Monthly Archives: December 2015

Refugees from world’s hot spots share their culture, learn about Christmas in U.S.

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Dallas police officer with refugee

By Dan Wooding
Founder of the ASSIST News Service

DALLAS – With tensions about refugees running at a high point in the United States, a Dallas-based refugee outreach, has arranged for a uniqueRefugee children enjoying their gifts Christmas event for refugees that have settled in its region.

Gateway of Grace, founded by a refugee, has turned the tables on the traditional “helping hand” this Christmas. Instead of serving meals to the displaced in North Texas — the displaced will serve their homemade dishes to North Texans.

“The goodwill we celebrate at Christmas extends to everyone,” said Samira Izadi Page, founder and executive director of Gateway of Grace. “This Christmas, refugees in our communities can give us the gift of meals from their homelands, even as we reach out to them with gifts and an explanation of what Christmas is about.”

According to a news release from Lovell-Fairchild Communications, the event —a Christmas Party for Refugees called “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Mankind” will be held Dec. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Wilshire Baptist Church, 4316 Abrams Road in Dallas.

More than 200 refugees, their families and volunteers will be on hand for a potluck lunch of native food from around the world from countries likeDallas police officer with refugee Burma, Bhutan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Senegal, Sudan, Congo and Syria, to name just a sampling of nations represented. And dishes will range from African rice to Uzbek stew to whatever the families bring.

“Each refugee family receives a gift card, and as live Christmas songs are sung, Santa Claus will share the story of St. Nicholas with children and explain what Christmas is about,” said the news release.

In 2014, of the 70,000 refugees arriving in the U.S., Texas received 11 percent – more than any other state, Page said. She knows their plight well. Her family fled Iran and sought political asylum in the U.S., where she eventually converted to Christianity, attended seminary and founded Gateway of Grace.

“The negative portrayal of refugees these days causes them to feel unwanted, to feel shame, insecurity, anxiety and fear,” she said. “With all that is going on in the world, this year, more than any other time, the message of Christmas is relevant in imparting dignity and worth to refugees. To shareSamira Izadi Page the joy of Christmas with refugees who have never experienced Christmas is a great way of removing some of the fear and anxiety and bringing healing into their lives.”

The event still needs volunteers for transportation and to provide gift cards plus necessary items for the refugee families including winter coats, baby formula and diapers.

To learn more or to volunteer, call Gateway of Grace at 469-324-8825 or go to http://www.gatewayofgrace.org.

Note: Samira Izadi Page is the founder and Executive Director of Gateway of Grace Ministries. She was born and raised in Iran as a Muslim. Samira and her family fled Iran due to persecution and obtained political asylum status in the U.S. Samira converted to Christianity and earned her Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry in Missional Church Studies at Perkins at SMU.

Samira has committed her life to bringing the hope and love of Christ to those whose hope, dignity, and humanity have been taken away by oppressive governments and circumstances. She frequently speaks nationally and locally at conferences, churches and other venues on issues of interfaith relations, Islam and Christianity, and refugee outreach. Samira works cross-denominationally with pastors and mission leaders and moves local congregations into new ways of mission and outreach.

VISION of Gateway of Grace:

To see the practical and spiritual needs of refugees in our communities met through compassionate, meaningful, Christ-centered relationships with the local Church

MISSION

To educate, equip, and mobilize the Church to bridge socio-cultural gaps between Christians and refugees so that refugees can know the hope of Christ through words and deeds of compassion.

SERVICES

Gateway helps refugees start over, many of them survivors of severe trauma, with donated furniture, pocket money, groceries, baby showers, job assistance, language lessons, and more. Most important, perhaps, Gateway trains volunteers and churches to adopt refugee families, the point where friendships form and assimilation begins.

Book review: Authors trace history of Middle East, ISIS’ formation

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By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside The Pew

In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., it is more critical than ever to be informed aboutISIS Crisis the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Proverbs 19:2 says it this way, “Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way.” As news reports drift farther from reporting and closer to slanted commentary from myriad perspectives, it is helpful to include other sources to help understand and guide us as we pray.

If you want a brief, easy-to-understand primer on the Middle East then go pick up the book, The ISIS Crisis: What You Really Need to Know by Charles H. Dyer and Mark Tobey (Moody Publishers, $10.39). In a short and smart 136 page read you will gain perspective on the history, religion and politics of the Middle East players; the difference between the Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, trace the history of the Ottoman and Assyrian empires and discover the genesis of Al-Qaeda and its metamorphosis to ISIS.

From that vantage point the authors seamlessly connect the dots through the economic and political motivations and clearly present the struggle for oil and water and the overall implications for end-time prophesy from a biblical perspective minus the fear-mongering hyperbole.

As American’s we tend to get caught up and consumed in the everyday rat-race of life; raising families, playing the chauffeur and fighting congested roads to get to work and school. Our technological society has gained us precious little time and the information age we live in has reduced our news to a limited perspective and controversial sound-bits.

It’s no wonder the complexities of the endless conflicts in the Middle East are beyond us save for the blip on the radar screen known at 9-11 when it came to American shores. As the authors link history and the underlying religious and political motivations they quote Saddam Hussein’s observation of the same, “Americans are foolish. They don’t understand anything in the world. They never travel. They don’t know anything outside the area.”

Thankfully, the authors have made it easy and convenient for us to get up to speed, examining how the outcome inCynthia Northrop dividing the spoils (of land) after World War I set the stage for the rise of the Mujahedeen from Afghanistan, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda in Iraq and ISIS, or as President Obama refers to ISIL which stands for the Islamic State and Iraq and Levant, which the authors explain, “The Levant is an early geographical term referring to the land between Egypt and Turkey, which today includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.”

Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, concludes his remarks in the forward of the ISIS Crisis by sharing a most compelling need to read the book, “The third and most compelling reason to read this book is that all of these events are discussed against the background of the Scriptures.” Although the authors do not believe that the antichrist will arise out of the Islamic religion, we are treated to a general framework of Middle East prophecy. No surprise to us, it is clear that in the end, Jesus win! ISIS represents a crisis for us, but not for the One who will be declared King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Cynthia Northrop, of Dallas, is owner of Northrop Communication, and author of Make a Difference: Navigating the Maze of Local Government.

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