Locals minister to refugeesPublished 10:58am Friday, March 29, 2013
The idea of spring break brings to mind sandy beaches, bright sunshine and carefree days for some, but for a local group of girls, mission work was the getaway they had in mind.
An Acteens Activator Team – a division of National Woman’s Missionary Union – of ten high school and college age girls and two leaders from Alexander City took a four-day trip to the “international highway” in Nashville to work with refugees from Burma and other countries March 24–27.
“We went to an apartment complex that was mainly populated by Burmese people and other refugees,” said Elizabeth Bates. “We just went around and gathered up the kids from the different apartments and played with them. We jumped rope, did coloring, played games – just to get the kids interacting with us. We acted out a Bible story from Noah and the ark.”
The girls also organized an Easter egg hunt – refusing to be hindered by the snow that began to fall – and used the contents of the eggs, like donkeys and other items, to teach the story of Christ.
“We didn’t just give them snacks – we gave them a story,” said Katelin Pattillo.
Mission team members said they tried to share hope and love with everyone they encountered – like an Arabic shopkeeper who welcomed them in for tea.
“We got to hear some of her stories,” said Kelly Harris. “She was very touched that so many American girls were interested in her life.”
Katelin Pattillo said being welcomed so readily by some of the people they were hoping to help was an important part of the trip – like a woman they visited who professed Christianity but still had doubts.
“We showed her that we loved her and wanted to get to know her,” Pattillo said.
“Hopefully she can see that there are good people, and that will strengthen her a little bit more in her faith.”
The girls said they also learned a lot from the trip – about what many refugees have gone through, about Hindu and Muslim religions and about sex slave and labor slave trafficking – the last of which they gained more awareness through working with an organization called Rescue1 the second full day of the trip.
“The main thing we did is pray, and we just spread awareness to the victims that there is hope,” said Catherine Bates. “They have hope of getting out, but there’s also hope in the Lord.”