Do you remember last month when we wrote about Wide and Narrow Windows? If you missed that article, go take a quick read. In thinking about the unknown windows of time we have with refugees, our team has been reflecting on who is already in our sphere, and how can we be strategic in the ways we engage them and work alongside their communities. To that end, our executive director came up with the diagram below.
The overarching goal in all of the things we do at RLP is not simply to solve problems, be social workers or answer questions. While we do equip mentors and volunteers to walk alongside their immigrant and refugee friends in meaningful, authentic ways, we have a deeper vision at work. The goal is to pull people towards the middle of that bullseye, to move from a participant in one of our programs to someone who understands that our aim is to see them grow as a person of passion and purpose with an eye to investing back into their own communities as leaders and change-makers. A Congolese man who understands both worlds he lives in will serve as a far more effective bridge between his elders and the City of Amarillo than one of our staff could ever be.
So, as a team, we began to plot all the refugees we know onto this chart, color coded by ethnic groups: Anyone who has attended our ESL classes, people we’ve met at Table Talk, mentees in our mentorship program, leaders that Dr. Ryan has invested in, and strangers who have walked into the PLACE. Take a look at the series below. What do you notice?
The middle is really empty, right!? We have a lot of people who we kind of know, or who we see every week at The PLACE for ESL class, or who are more deeply involved in mentorships. There are a few who have made it to the middle over time, but not many. We are thinking carefully about what leadership looks like for these different groups, and what conversations about leadership should sound like in these relationships. Our definitions of leadership are often very different from the norms in other cultures. Maybe we expect an out-front spokesperson, but an Afghan woman will be more likely to lead quietly through persuasion.
We do know that we want more people like Samuel, who have a heart for their own communities and a drive to do creative and new things — and who understand that RLP is trying to be a vehicle for that very thing. Samuel, who works part-time for RLP as a Storybook Assistant, has made it to the middle. He has exciting ideas, a big heart for people, and a future that looks very bright.
Pray for us as we equip volunteers, encourage refugees and work together for the greatest good of our community. Join our prayer team by emailing Emily.
You can also join us in person for a night of prayer with Pray the City on October 17th from 7-8 PM at The PLACE, 3107 Plains. No need to RSVP, just show up!