Dec 03, 2021

As they watched the frantic evacuations of people from Afghanistan on their televisions in August, several members of Wesley UMC in Bethlehem approached the Rev. Candy LaBar, pastor, asking, “How can we help?” Communities across the U.S. were asked in September to prepare to welcome over 50,000 refugees.

So, Wesley, whose motto is “People Blessing People,” decided to do just that.

“Through the Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, we’re uniquely positioned to meet some of the key transitional needs of our new neighbors, including furniture, housewares, cleaning supplies, and other necessities,” said LaBar. “Now we’ve also developed new relationships with community partners which will lead to vital ministry in the years to come.”

The Depot is working with Bethany Christian Services to provide household furnishings for refugee families moving into the area. The refugees themselves do not come in to select their furniture, as they are not placed here until there is a fully furnished apartment ready for them. So representatives from the agency do the selecting. And besides the Afghanis there are other refugees from other countries arriving, too.

A U.S. Airman with the Joint Task Force-Crisis Response embraces mother after helping reunite their family at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 20. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Davis Harris)

“Often, but especially at this time of year, we recall that Jesus and his family were refugees, seeking to find peace and safety in a new land,” said LaBar. “That in itself can be a powerful motivation for helping modern-day neighbors who are seeking refuge. But even more than that, I think the people of Wesley are motivated by the simple fact that these new neighbors are fellow children of God, made in God’s image and beloved by God. How else could we respond, but with gifts of help and hope?”