by Beth Thomas
“The Church is the greatest vehicle God has chosen to bless the world around them,” says Joseph Khabbaz, youth and young adult pastor for the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist church in Maryland, United States (US). Khabbaz leads a group of church volunteers in a unique outreach to the recently resettled Syrian refugees in their community. Adventist News Network (ANN) interviewed Khabbaz to learn more.
ANN: Tell us how your church became involved with refugee ministry.
JK: One of our Sligo church members, Hannah Koilpillai, became involved in a volunteer program that helped set up local apartments for newly arriving refugee families. She needed an Arabic translator to help her communicate with one of the families, and reached out to Anees Abdelnour, another church member who is fluent in Arabic.
Abdelnour had been looking for ways to assist newly arriving Syrian refugees here in Maryland and was excited to help Koilpillai. Abdelnour began brainstorming how he could help these families and meet some of their most pressing needs. That’s when he proposed this refugee outreach opportunity to me. When I heard the personal stories of what some of these families have been through, how they risked their lives to get their families out of dire situations, and learned of some of their struggles in their new home country, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of compassion and a desire to help.