Cathy Barker: Helping Afghan refugees like we did 20 years ago


Cathy Barker

Twenty years ago, after what came to be known simply as 9/11, I asked my congregation in Seattle what we should do. Everyone felt helpless and discouraged. So I stepped out of the pulpit and asked, simply, “What shall we do?”

Spontaneous answers came: most had to do with love. I pressed on. “How shall we show love?” The idea came bubbling out: “We could sponsor Afghan refugees.” More discussion followed, and several people volunteered to find out more. After much research, and finding a refugee resettlement organization to help us, the congregation voted to be a sponsoring church.

One generous person offered an apartment rent-free for up to a year. Another coordinated the search for furniture. Donations poured in. The enthusiasm was contagious! But other forces conspired to keep Afghanis out of our country. So we offered to help any refugee family who needed us. A dear family with young children came to us. (Were they from Somalia? I’ve forgotten now.) They stayed long enough to get on their feet and then moved to another city to be with

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