Reflection on the Eighth Station
By Rev. Gregory Han with Elena Korbut
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. Much like the woman wiping the face of Jesus to offer Him comfort and love, we at Interfaith Ministries welcome the stranger and treat our refugee families like family with open arms as they work to settle into their new lives.
The Stations of the Cross narrative is filled with pain and suffering, as we are reminded of our own worst moments and fears.
Jesus is suffering at the hands of state-sanctioned violence.
In this time of violence, he stops, though, to mourn with those who mourn, especially with those who were near the bottom of the social structure at the time.
At Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Refugee Services department, we work with refugee families who have come to America fleeing violence, often violence either sanctioned by the state, supported by the state, or tacitly endorsed by the state. Women and children have often been the most vulnerable in these situations. We look to many faiths and values within faiths to support our work: “the strength of shared beliefs” is at the core of our mission. Drawing from the Christian tradition and this story of Jesus’ final walk to his own death, we find strength and encouragement, resolve and determination, in seeing that Jesus noticed the women who were mourning, the women who had found in Jesus someone who respected them, and we do the same. Our Women’s Empowerment Group provides a safe space for refugee women and their children to connect to each other, to relevant resources in their new home, as well as members of our Houston community that volunteer tirelessly with the group.
Jesus tells the women of trials that are to come. Yet, perhaps in this example of Jesus’ actions, we also find a model. Comforting does not mean we wash over the difficulties or that we ignore the pains of the past and arrogantly boast of some bright future. And the same is with the women we work with: they have come through challenging, even horrific, events to come to America, and we do not ignore those. What we do find is that these past stories are the seeds of present strength; they are brave and resilient women who rely on their past stories to build their new lives in Houston and make our diverse community stronger and more resilient.
The Rev. Gregory Han is a “half-Asian, midwestern-Raised, Jesuit-educated, Harvard-trained, Texas-residing, Presbyterian Minister.” Since the summer of 2014, he has served as the Director of Interfaith Relations & Education at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston.
Elena Korbut is the Community Engagement Manager in the Refugee Services Department at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. Her passion for serving the refugee community is fueled by her experience as an immigrant and someone who is familiar with the challenges one faces when moving to a different country.