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By Nikole Hahn

Newly appointed Global Workers, like Lan, serve in various places through local organizations or churches while building a financial team. Lan is heading to Asia to care for orphans, and while she waits on the Lord’s timing, she finds places in her community that need her compassion.

Currently, Lan volunteers with a local organization that teaches her how to befriend new refugee families. In one particular instance, an Afghan family recently arrived at the center. We shall call the husband, Abdul.

“[Abdul] used to work with the military in Afghanistan. He was in the right place at the right time, but his brother was not as fortunate,” Lan said. While Abdul and his family made it safely to America, his brother remained behind and later was betrayed by a neighbor. The Taliban is hunting down his brother while Abdul continues to seek out ways to rescue him. As the family gets settled in this American city, life as a refugee poses challenges for them.

Abdul reported scammers on Facebook pretending to be government workers and extorting money to rescue family members. Thankfully, Abdul’s English wasn’t perfect, and Lan could explain that this wasn’t an American. Other refugees warned Abdul to not go out at night because it’s dangerous in the city. One can get robbed.

“We fled Afghan because of theft; now there is robbery in America.” He said to Lan after nearly losing his cash and giving up his brother’s identity to an internet scammer (who would put his brother in jeopardy). Internet scammers come from various countries like Russia, Nigeria, and even the United States. In the wake of the Afghanistan situation, fake charity organizations have materialized. Still, people like Lan and the organization she volunteers with keep our refugees wise and safe.

“It’s a struggle getting used to everything,” Abdul said of living as a refugee in America. “[My] wife was only educated one year when she was very young and so cannot read.”

Lan explained, “We communicate through Google Translate, but Google Translate does not speak out loud the Afghanistan language. It only writes it in Arabic script from English. So communicating with the wife is hard.”

Lan took Abdul and his family to the park. It was their first time, and Abdul’s wife saw another Afghan woman. She couldn’t contain her excitement of seeing a face from home. Abdul’s wife hurried over to this woman and began to converse excitedly.

Abdul used Google Translate to talk to Lan while his wife was socializing at the other end of the park. “When a woman meets another Afghan woman, they see a sister.” 

“I am learning of Afghan customs I never knew.” Lan shared. “Like at dinner time, everyone eats from the same serving plate with their hands and spoon. No individual plates or bowls. They have this dish that looks like milk in a bowl. They collectively use a spoon and drink it like soup—all from the same bowl! I was worried about germs, so I got myself a plate and decided not to drink from the communal milk bowl. Learning this now is good. I will probably have to get over my fear of germs soon and adjust to the culture of my future community.” 

Lan frequently hangs out with this refugee family, and she says, “I’m like an auntie.”

Eventually, Lan will leave the United States to serve in Asia among unreached people groups. She writes, “I will be there long-term developing relationships and following up with those whom God has already prepared to come to know Him. Since I was young, God has placed a passion for the care of orphans on my heart, and now He has allowed me to take all the skills and ideas He has given me and pour them into the street children that I will be working with!”

 As for Abdul and his family, perhaps you can lift them up in prayer today, especially for his brother, who is on the run from the Taliban. 



On your social media or in the comment section of this blog, share your answer to this question.

  • If you serve with refugees, what have you learned about their customs and how has that challenged you?



Header image by Pexels from Pixabay 

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