May 11, 2022St. Anne’s Afghan refugee family – Making a real difference, one family at a time

St. Anne’s Afghan refugee family – Making a real difference, one family at a time

Margie Gray Two-minute read.   Resources

There are two great unexpected joys resulting from the recent changes at St. Anne’s. As you leave the Sunday morning service in the nave, you are hit with the wonderful smells of exotic food cooking in the apartment adjoining the church. Also sometimes there will be little Afghan children playing on the playset in the yard with children from the congregation.

When the Rev. Meg Rhodes proposed remodeling the church to take in a refugee family from Afghanistan in September 2021, a lot of people thought she was crazy to take on the daunting task.

People other than her congregation, that is. As soon as funding was secured in October through grants from the Diocese and the Central Deanery, volunteers rolled up their sleeves and started clearing out the space. It had been used for the library, office, and storage in the older part of the building. Renovating and furnishing the space was undertaken with the help of St. Paul’s and St. Andrew’s in Kansas City. Within a few months, a three-bedroom apartment was completed, and new office space off the nave and a new library were completed.

Mid-November, in the middle of the night, Jewish Vocational Services delivered six members of a fleeing family to their new home. The Rev. Meg attributes the effort to “a Christian church working with a Jewish organization helping a Muslim family be safe.”

St. Anne’s member, Brie Miller, acted as coordinator of the St. Anne’s volunteer force to get the family the services they needed. She arranged transportation for them to a mosque, medical appointments, ESL classes, immigration, and any other appointments. She also managed volumes of information for the church and the family, and acted as a liaison with agencies providing services. The father of the family will soon be able to pass his driver’s test so he can work to provide for his wife and children. Brie said working with this family and the congregation has been a joy and honor.

Once the family has outgrown their need for support from St. Anne’s, the apartment will once again await the arrival of a family in need of God’s help, working through some very dedicated people.

When asked what she would say now to the naysayers who discouraged her from taking on this project, The Rev. Meg said “God calls you to do things and all you have to do is take the first scary, blind steps and He will take care of the outcome.”

Margie Gray retired in 2000 from the Missouri Department of Corrections as a Probation and Parole Officer and lives in John Knox Village with her dog, Jax. Margie attends St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Lee’s Summit, and is currently working on a teen novel and picture books.

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