Home Christian News How One Chicago Church Is Stepping up to Help Afghan Refugees

How One Chicago Church Is Stepping up to Help Afghan Refugees

Refugees
The Rev. George Garrison, senior pastor, left, and Annette LaPlaca, minister of congregational life, at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois, on Sept. 23, 2021. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

WARRENVILLE, Ill. (RNS) — When Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, fell to the Taliban in August, it didn’t take long for the ripple effects to be felt halfway around the globe in Amy Treier’s home in the Chicago suburbs.

By mid-August, the local office of evangelical aid group World Relief was so overwhelmed by contributions to help Afghans arriving in the Chicago area it didn’t have the capacity to store them. Neither did Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois, which Treier and her family attend.

So Treier, a professor of political science at nearby evangelical Wheaton College, and others at Immanuel stepped up to sort and hold onto the donations until Afghans who need them arrive.

Within weeks, her guest room had become a storage room. By late September, her living and dining room were starting to look more like storage as well.

The donations in Treier’s home will be packaged into three welcome kits for evacuees who are being resettled by World Relief, one of nine agencies that contracts with the United States government to work with refugees in the U.S.

One welcome kit in the guest room is nearly complete, including a number of basic items a family might need to start life over in a new country: bedding, hangers, postage stamps, kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies.

“It just felt like this is a tangible, practical way that we could be a part and that we could just sort of partner and show love for our neighbors who are coming from Afghanistan,” Treier said.

The slow trickle of arrivals World Relief’s Chicagoland office has seen since August has sped up over the past week as many Afghans have completed security and health screenings at military bases across the U.S. and in countries where they have been waiting since they were airlifted from Afghanistan, said Nathan White, director of external engagement for World Relief Chicagoland.

And churches in the area are “wanting to welcome the stranger,” he said.

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Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.