By Josh Levin
From the Garden of Eden to the Promised Land to our future eternal dwelling place, the theme of Home Lost and Home Found is woven throughout Scripture. This article is about how our family found home, and how we walk alongside asylum seekers who are searching for the same.
Anyone familiar with the Twin Cities housing market understands that
buying a house now requires perseverance or deep pockets. Deep pockets we do not have. Our process took nine months. After seven rejected offers, in June of 2018
we had our house.
As career missionaries at Youth With a Mission Ozarks, the Lord stirred us to respond to the refugee crisis, eventually leading us to the Twin Cities team of International Association for Refugees (IAFR), a Christian mission helping people survive and recover from forced displacement. We helped launch Jonathan House, a space that provides stable shelter to asylum seekers.
People arriving to the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program and those coming as asylum seekers share many things in common. They fled persecution or violence in their home countries. They seek legal and physical protection in a foreign country. They all must wait.
Resettled refugees wait long years in refugee camps. Those selected have paperwork and a support network in place when they arrive. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, wait out a lengthy process within the borders of our country.
With their legal status pending, they do not receive federal benefits and must wait a minimum of 150 days to apply for a work permit. What can a person do when she receives no support nor has any way to legally support herself? Jonathan House offers a solution.
We currently operate two sites with capacity for nine people. In 2020 we plan to open a third site, bringing capacity to 21. Through partnerships with churches and volunteers we create supportive community around our friends, a key ingredient in the recovery journey that they must undertake.
During the challenging season of our house-hunt, I had the following conversation with a Jonathan House resident:
“Every door I try to go through is closed,” he lamented. After years of waiting there remained no decision on his case. He pursued education opportunities that went nowhere. He applied for jobs but was not hired.
“Though I don’t know how it feels to be in your situation, I know what it’s like when every door you try is closed,” I responded.
Did the Lord extend our home-buying process last year to help us relate to the asylum seekers we serve, who have to wait much longer and under much harder circumstances than anything we’ve experienced?
Trusting in God’s faithfulness helped us wait patiently for our home that eventually came, and we love it. Now we encourage our friends at Jonathan House that they can trust God’s faithfulness. They are resilient, resourceful people, and they have my respect.