Melanie Dobson discovered her love of the written word at the age of seven, scribbling her observations and ideas into a little red journal. Words continued flowing through her as she grew, pouring out in poetry, songs, and most of all, through stories. Writing is now a form of worship for her. Every story she writes is an offering laid at the altar of the Master Creator, as she prays He will use it to draw people closer to Him. In her latest novel, she explores what it’s like to live as a refugee and the great blessing of journeying alongside someone who needs both a friend and a home. It’s a grace to welcome Melanie to the farm’s front porch today…
Two children. A boy and girl.
That’s what I saw in my mind’s eye as I looked out the window, studying the branches of a weeping cedar that draped toward the ground.
The leaves were a silvery green, almost like tears mourning a loss.
Because it knew—the kids harbored in its tree house had to run.
Only a glimpse from behind this glass, in the world of my imagination, but a story began to unfold inside me. Picture by picture. Frame by frame.
I prayed and then I waited.
Sipped green tea and offered up my keyboard, asking God to fill the pages with His story.
By grace, the words began to come that morning, spilling out on my screen.
Refugees who leave everything behind and then find themselves lost in another land, far from what they know and the people they love.
More than 65 million people are living as refugees, forced to flee because of militants, drought, war.
An unprecedented crisis, overwhelming in number and scope.
An unprecedented opportunity to love our neighbors from around the world: “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your house.”
Jesus’ words, exhorting us to love our brothers and sisters as we love Him.
None of us can help 65 million people on our own, but together we—the body of Christ—are a mighty army, fully equipped to fight evil with love. We can serve and pray as a body. Provide cups of water to thirsty lips. Deliver boxes of food with a smile.
The heroines in my real world are ladies who have offered up their passions and talents to be used by Him.
All of them serving as sisters in Christ, but in very different ways.
Tamara, one of the most courageous women I know, travels into some of the most dangerous places in the world, meeting refugees in their tents and camps and boats. Capturing their stories on film.
Tamara doesn’t see danger. She sees hurting people who are literally dying to find a home. People who need someone to listen. Someone to care. She’s feet first in the body of Christ and then ears.
But she never sees herself as helping. Instead she says that she’s the one blessed:
My life has been transformed by the strength in their stories. My view of God enlarged by the depth of their hope. I witness courage and find faith.
My friend Leslie is unique as well. She’s like a hand who serves with kindness.
Instead of traveling to the Middle East, she loves refugees in her city. For the last year, she and her family have been mentoring a family who fled Afghanistan. Driving them to appointments. Helping them decipher documents and pay bills.
My mom—she bows her head regularly to pray for Syrian friends, a refugee mother trying desperately to reunite with her children. Praying for hope and help when things seem hopeless.
And then there is Megan. On some days she is like skin: refugees see her when she welcomes them at the airport or shows respect by sharing tea with them in their new home.
On other days, Megan is more like muscle, connecting those who want to love their neighbors but don’t know how. Through Refugee Care Collective, she partners with people across our city to build restart kits, stock cupboards with food, place stuffed animals on beds about to be filled.
Small acts, she says, make the biggest difference in a refugee’s life.
Me—I’m not exactly sure where I fall in the body.
Today I delivered coffee cups and creamer to Pamoja House, a place where refugees have found home. Then I returned to my keyboard to write about the glimpses of story that God has given me.
Maybe I’m a finger. Or toe. Nothing grand.
Yet God doesn’t call me or any of us to be grand. He calls us to be faithful.
Jeanette, the co-founder of Pamoja, has journeyed with hundreds of refugee families over the past fourteen years, helping them carry their tremendous loads. Through relationship, through the love of Christ and breaking of bread, she’s watched the hardest of stories being redeemed.
There are so many ways for us to use our gifts, love the hurting but resilient people finding refuge in our cities and towns. We can offer a cup of water, something to eat. Deliver kits packed with items that show we value them. Welcome them home.
We can pray, specifically that His perfect love would cast out fear. Pray for opportunities to meet the refugees in our communities. Pray that families would be reunited, hearts would be restored.
We can open our front doors, offer a meal and conversation to people missing family and friends, all that is familiar to them. Physical items are necessary but relationships—those are balm to a wounded soul.
We can teach or tutor a student learning English. Take a new friend shopping. Teach someone how to drive. Advocate when he or she needs a voice.
We can listen and learn and share their stories, inspire others to use their gifts as well.
For there is incredible power in story. That’s why Jesus, I believe, liked to speak in parables.
Often what we need to hear most is reflected back to us through the journey of someone else.
Often what we need to hear is that we’re not alone.
Like the story of the wounded traveler ignored by so many who passed by, left dying on the road.
And the Samaritan who gave time and money and resources to rescue this traveler. An ordinary man, an enemy at that, offering compassion to a foreigner in desperate need of a friend.
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus tells us.
And so, together, we go.
Equipped with the uniqueness of our gifts to love and serve —
catching the wind, everyday heroines in this story for His glory.
Melanie Dobson’s desire is to be faithful in pouring out the stories that God has etched into her heart. She is the author of sixteen novels, a writing teacher, and the mom of two amazing girls, both welcomed home through adoption. She and her husband, Jon, are thankful to be part of a church community passionate about caring for refugees in their city of Portland, Oregon, and around the world.
Melanie’s latest novel, Catching the Wind, is about a boy and girl who lose one another after escaping Nazi Germany.
Seventy years later, a journalist begins searching for the girl, and what she uncovers ultimately transforms her life.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]