“Be the face of Christ to others.” It’s a phrase I have so often heard throughout my life, both at church and in school. Before Thanksgiving break, I got to experience what this means firsthand during the Basket of Blessings event sponsored by OPEN.
Organizations on campus put together baskets full of food, hats, gloves and school supplies for refugee families spending their first Thanksgiving in Erie. On Nov. 19, students delivered the baskets to the families.
My roommates and I volunteered to deliver the baskets put together by Phi Eta Sigma, one to a family of eight and a second to a family of nine. Both families are refugees from Syria who arrived in the United States less than three months ago.
Both families were very welcoming, inviting us into their homes to spend time in fellowship. Because they were still very new to the United States, neither family spoke very much English.
While the language barrier proved to be quite difficult, we did the best we could given the circumstances, using translating apps to communicate back and forth. Both families even called one of their friends who had been in the United States for longer and who knew English so he could translate faster.
I was struck by the hospitality of these people. In both homes, the families stood up so that we had a place to sit and offered us something to drink.
Even though they had very little, they were still so generous with what they did have to offer. When we left each home, they told us that we were welcome back any time.
While the entire experience was very fruitful, I think the most rewarding part of the morning was Omar, the 2-year-old son of the first family we visited.
Omar and I formed an almost immediate friendship. As we sat with the family, Omar brought me every toy he owned. Each time he brought another over, he gave me this knowing smile, almost as if he were saying, “This means we’re friends.”
It was in Omar and his family that I saw the face of Christ. Though they were in a completely strange environment, away from everything they’ve ever known, they were joyful and welcoming.
The families I encountered are a reminder that life is beautiful and we can find this beauty in even the darkest of circumstances.
I think it’s important for all of us to remember that no matter what we are going through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. God will make himself known to us when we are struggling, whether that be through prayer or in the face of another person.