In late September, as I perused the Women of Welcome public page, I noticed under the ad for the documentary Who Is Welcome Here? that a lovely strawberry blonde woman, from Fort Collins, Colorado, had responded with a comment tagging her friends and asking if they’d be interested in watching it together and going through the discussion guide. I smiled. This is why we do what we do at Women of Welcome..
I messaged this lovely lady and introduced myself as an Ambassador with the group and asked if I might be able to sit in and observe the conversations, with the goal being learning what women are saying both about the documentary, but also what they are feeling concerning the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border.
Heather, who is quite organized and very handy with all things tech, quickly put together a Facebook group and added all who voiced interest in getting together. On October 21, she launched the very first Zoom meeting.
Each week she’s posted the 5-7 minute segment of Who Is Welcome Here? and the discussion questions so that the participants can view and think about the material before meeting. This has been super helpful in keeping the meeting to a one-hour limit.
Over the weeks I have listened to the hearts of these amazing Jesus followers as they shared thoughts, concerns, and really unpacked what it looks like to love God and love people when it comes to those from other lands. They have identified neighborhoods that are predominantly Latino migrants, talked about what opportunities there might be for outreach, and then put their money where their mouth was. Collectively, they pulled together resources to bless a single migrant mom who was not just caring for her children, but also a grandchild. She needed food and these ladies not only made sure she had groceries but also coordinated a good evening to have pizza delivered.
But that’s not all…One of the ladies collected backpacks filled with essentials for paroling prisoners and one lady collected money to make a basket that included “Mexican essentials,” and gift cards, along with some cash to assist with a bill for an immigrant friend. Lastly, one of the women took part in Dresscember. To raise money to help fight human trafficking, women were invited to wear a dress every day in the month of December.
This is just one of the many examples of the way Women of Welcome members are touching their communities. Some women volunteer for food banks or provide immigration appointment transportation like rides to doctor's appointments. Some are teaching ELL (English for Language Learners), and some sacrifice their comfort and time to live at the border on the Mexican side with migrants, meeting needs as they arise. Some pray and advocate from home by reaching out to elected officials and spreading awareness.
We provide resources to make it as simple as possible because we want women to be able to follow their hearts in doing what God is calling them to do concerning the vulnerable and marginalized. What I love the most is that it all starts with a conversation, an invitation, and a heart of welcome for all who are made in the image and likeness of God.
We are all welcome here.
Story by Joanne McAfee-Maldonado. Joanne lives in Delaware with her husband and two children. She is an Ambassador with Women of Welcome and co-leads racial reconciliation discussion groups with a dear friend. She taught ESL for a few months until COVID made it impossible to meet for classes. She's been a Christian for 42 years and an immigrant advocate since she traveled to the US Southern Border with Women of Welcome in 2019. She loves this community and is blessed every day to be able to connect on the phone with other women who are learning how to extend Christ-like welcome to our brothers and sisters from other lands.