In Brief

God has called us to be the transformative presence of Jesus in our community, wherever that community may be. Currently, that is with refugees who live in E. Denver and N.W. Aurora–some of the most depressed zip codes in the country. Our refugee neighbors come from conflict situations around the world, and find themselves in a foreign culture in an area of the city prone to conflict centered on crime, gangs, and drugs. We seek peace by befriending and loving our neighbors as our own family. Many are separated from their families and friends and have difficulty integrating in this new environment, so we attempt to walk with them, connecting them to our family and friends and oftentimes they become our family. This takes various forms-from our paid work to our free time to our community garden. Alicia is a nurse at a nearby hospital and works with our community’s most vulnerable members to improve access to health care especially for those with Medicaid or uninsured. Derek is a lawyer for refugees (currently winding down his practice to free up the family for future work overseas) and also runs a tiny non-profit working with Colorado’s refugee communities from Burma. As part of this, he works with the different Burmese ethnicities who traditionally distrust each other to encourage reconciliation through community events, sports, and especially youth development. Together we work with youth from the different ethnic communities to encourage team work and leadership. In addition to our “work,” we run a community garden in our neighborhood which has plots rented by refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Sudan, Congo as well as local Coloradans. In the garden, you might say we sow seeds of peace, trying to encourage a sense of community across cultures, language barriers, and backgrounds.  We also believe strongly in the power of fellowship over food so we regularly host friends in our apartment and visit others’ homes, trying to bring together refugees, our local family, and friends to encourage discussion, understanding across religions and a deeper feeling of belonging and love with our friends who have left all their loved ones behind. We also pursue relationships through opening our home as much as possible to our community (including hosting a dear friend’s 14-year-old, at-risk daughter for five weeks during a family crisis), participating in community events such as funerals and celebrations of births. It’s hard for us to define what exactly we “do,” but relationships are at the core of everything we do, think, and pray and God has abundantly blessed us with relationships, particularly, with Him!

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