Afghan Refugees Respond to Redland’s Love
In the late Fall of 2021, Redland Baptist Church, Derwood, stepped out boldly in a missions move that Senior Pastor Mark Adams called “One of the most exciting things I’ve seen in all my years of serving God’s people.” They adopted two Afghan refugee families.
In a little over a year, the church supported, nurtured, and loved them. Now the Afghan families have moved on. They kicked off 2023 with a car provided by the church and a new home, also with help from RBC. It has been an incredible 14 months.
The outreach began late fall in 2021 during the height of Covid, and the church could not take their usual mission trips. While seeking an alternative way to do some international missions, Outreach Minister Peggy Peek saw an email from Send Relief about opportunities to sponsor an Afghan family. She presented the information to the church, and the congregation fully embraced the ministry. They formed an Afghan Ministry Team.
Within months of their decision, which included training and paperwork, Peek and the rest of the team met their adopted young Afghan family, Bashir* and Darya,* and their three children, an 11-year-old daughter and two sons, ages five and 20 months. Bashir and Darya were also expecting a fourth child in April 2022. They were traumatized after their dramatic rescue when American troops pulled out, grabbing only a few belongings and leaving their home, their friends, and most of their families. They had been living in a military refugee camp before Redland adopted them.
Redland members embraced the family, providing housing, furniture, food, and housewares. They enrolled the children in school, helped Darya find an obstetrician, provided transportation, and helped with English. They also helped the family find employment and assisted in helping them budget.
A short time afterward, they sponsored Bashir’s parents Hamraz and his wife Ilham*, and Bashir’s brother, Wahid*.
In December 2021, RBC Associate Pastor Kevin Freeman invited the Afghan families to his home for Christmas, giving them an authentic Christmas celebration and explaining why Christians celebrate the holiday.
“But God doesn’t like Muslims?”
God opened many opportunities to build a solid relationship with the families, to grow to love them, and to share the love of Jesus.
The church said goodbye to their Afghan friends late last year. The families found a location in Virginia that better suited their needs and where they would be with other Afghan families. The church provided the deposit for a rental house in Woodbridge that was large enough for both families. At the end of 2022, Redland embers went a step further and bought the family a 2013 Toyota Highlander with a full year’s worth of liability and comprehensive insurance.
Were there huge open declarations rejecting Islam and turning to Christianity? No. But the church planted deep seeds, answered many spiritual questions, and became the hands and feet of Jesus. The Afghan families were impacted. So was the church.
The relationships blossomed. When Darya had her baby in March, Peek was with her. She took Darya to her appointments, assisted with paperwork, and supported her throughout the pregnancy. At the hospital, after giving birth, Darya talked with her mother in Afghanistan and told her that Peek was her “American mom.”
The children were also acclimating and developing friendships at the church. The sixth grader went to summer camp, and all the kids attended Vacation Bible School.
Following several days of VBS, one of the children got in the car with Peek and asked, “Miss Peggy, who is Jesus?”
Peek said, “I was able to explain very clearly who Jesus is. It is a question you wait for. I had my cross necklace and told him Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
“On the next day, I was picking her up from VBS, and she said to me, ‘Miss Peggy, they say Jesus is alive, but he died.’ We talked about how He came back to life. Then she said, ‘But Jesus doesn’t like Muslims.’ I told her Jesus loves everyone and that last fall, Jesus told the people at Redland to love Muslims and to help your family.”
Excited about the prospect of getting a car, Darya worked all fall, with the help of a Farsi interpreter, to get her license. In a text to Peek about the car, Darya said, “In Afghanistan, they don’t do big things for women. They laugh.” Peek replied, “God does big things for women here.” Darya said, “Yes, women are very valuable here.”
On a Monday at Carmax when Peek purchased the car on behalf of the church, Peek told the family, “You know, God tells us parents give good gifts to children, but God gives better gifts to His children. This gift is from God.”
Reflecting on the past year and the exposure the family has had to Christ followers, Peek said, “They’re still trying to figure it all out. The week before they moved they came to church, and I was sharing. I laid it out clearly how God loves us. We had people who could speak English and Farsi translating. When we sang the invitation hymn, they were singing. They don’t know the one true living God, but they were worshipping the one true living God.”
Bashir shared in a text,
“The kindness you and your team did for me and my family will never be forgotten. During this one year, Mrs. Peggy, you really did your best to provide the best life for us. Thank you. I will never forget your kindness.
“The kindness you and your team did for me and my family will never be forgotten.”
Neither will God forget.