|Source: Baptist News|
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of Oklahoma has joined an emerging interfaith coalition to provide support services for an estimated 1,800 Afghan refugees.
CBF Coordinator Kyle Tubbs said, “We will absolutely be involved in meaningful and transformational ways, even though we are not sure what that will look like right now. CBF Oklahoma wants to make sure that we are greeting these refugees as we would Jesus himself.”
The coalition has partnered with bipartisan officials to promote a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. According to a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office, “Governor Stitt welcomes Afghans fleeing the terrorist Taliban regime to come to Oklahoma and live in the freedom we hold so dearly.”
By tapping into existing refugee programs, Oklahoma pastor Kristin McAtee hopes to raise awareness about the broader global refugee crisis to create lasting partnerships.
“I became interested in working with refugees when I was at First Baptist Oklahoma City, where we had six refugee congregations meeting in our facility. We worked hard to connect people to refugees to build a relationship-based ministry,” she said. “I have had a 12-year relationship with a Karen family from Burma.”
An additional ecumenical partner is Catholic Charities, who have been contracted by the U.S. government to resettle the Afghans during their first three months in Oklahoma.
A spokesperson for Catholic Charities said, “What we are looking at here is the need for long-term relationships. It’s about transportation to doctor’s visits and filling out forms, but ideally it’s also about establishing friendships.”
The churches have been working to coordinate volunteer chaplains and counselors to help the refugees cope with the stresses and other mental health illnesses.
McAtee added, “No one yet has had the time to think about how we deal with the trauma these people are going to have. These Afghans are coming straight out of a war zone. A comment was made to me that we haven’t seen anything like this since Vietnam.”
“We haven’t seen anything like this since Vietnam.”
Additionally the partnership has been ramping up to meet the influx not only of Afghans but of refugees from other countries since the Biden administration increased the nation’s refugee cap from 62,500 to 125,000.
For now, it will take a grassroots network of volunteers to come alongside their new neighbors.
Source: Baptist News