A Donor’s Point of View

Bruce Barton became a World Relief donor after working on The Life Application Study Bible.  After five years of working on the Bible, Bruce and his wife, Mitzie, made the decision to donate a portion of their total giving---one third to their church, one third to evangelism, and one third to the poor.  At the same time, Bruce was working with Youth for Christ in Carol Stream---across the street the World Relief offices.  Approximately 25 years later, the Barton’s are still faithful World Relief supporters.

“As a donor, I think we are supposed to be responsible about our giving and I feel good about giving to World Relief,” said Barton.

Barton believes that financial giving is not primarily an emotional response. While he enjoys hearing success stories about refugees getting a good job, earning citizenship, or starting a small business, those stories are not a means-to-an-end. Instead, Barton views these stories as a conformation that World Relief is doing a good job with the resources entrusted to them.

“For me, it is like watching a magician.  After the first three tricks, you just start to trust the results--- and everything World Relief does backs up their promises with quality,” said Barton.

When asked about his involvement as a World Relief donor, Barton relates his commitment to the feeding of the 5,000, which is found in all four Gospels. He believes the Bible mandates that we proclaim God’s word by showing His love and concern for others.

“Jesus trained his disciples and told them to feed the people, which says to me that we too are called to serve and give physical help to others.  Or in other words, continue to feed WRDA---the conduit that serves refugees,” said Barton.

Finally, when asked what he would say to a potential WRDA donor, Barton responded, “If you are moved to give to refugees then World Relief is the best place---you can count on them to handle your money well.”

 WRDA History

Djoua Xiong came to the U.S. as a Hmong refugee from Laos to escape violence and start over in a safe place; however, God had a very specific mission for Djou.

During the mid-1970’s Djoua and his family were among the Hmong people seeking political alyssum.  Upon arrival in Wheaton, his first job was as a dish washer at Wheaton College and then in the shipping department at Tyndale Publishers.  Djoua adjusted to the culture and language quickly, and as a result he became a leader and advocate in the Hmong community.

Djoua was in the U.S. for a short time when he was recruited by Catholic Charities to serve as a case manager and help resettle other refugees arriving from Southeast Asia. In 1980, Djoua left Catholic Charities and accepted a position with World Relief to serve refugees being resettled throughout the Midwest.  But as his family grew, Djoua wanted to be at home more; therefore, he approached World Relief with the idea of opening an office in DuPage County.  His request was granted and he became the first official resettlement director for World Relief DuPage.

The DuPage office opened in 1982 with one case manager and a secretary, and together they resettled 100 refugees the first year.  During his tenure as director, with the help of volunteers, Djoua and his staff resettled thousands of refugees, from approximately 20 different countries.  “I would go to churches to speak and people were very sensitive to the refugees’ needs and responded,” said Djoua.

According to Djoua, during the early years churches and families would host newly arriving refugees in their homes, enroll the children in school, and run the ESL classes.  When Djoua left World Relief in 2000 to serve as president and CEO of Overseas Tribal Service, Inc., the DuPage office had both a strong volunteer and Church network---and nearly 50 employees!

Some of Djoua’s accomplishments as director include: establishing local refugee churches, a summer youth program, an on-site counseling center, a senior adult program, a community garden, and a program for refugee women to sell their handmade goods.

Today, Djoua continues in his advocacy work by helping to create access for missionaries to serve the tribal people of Southeast Asia.

 Update: Director’s Reflections

One of the benefits of looking back at the history of WRDA is seeing God’s faithfulness.  Over the years, God has shown through as He used people like Djoua – transforming them from refugees into faithful servants who serve and advocate for others.  His faithfulness has shown through people like Bruce and Mitzi, who have both lent their talents and been faithful financial supporters.

Recent events have led us at WRDA to realize how very dependent we are on God and His faithfulness through his people.  Last month in this newsletter, we shared concerns about public funding that was originally designated for refugees is now being used to meet the desperate needs of unaccompanied children entering the U.S.  Congress did not take action before its recess, so funding cuts to several of our refugee programs have gone into effect.   This re-allocation of funds represents the largest single drop in public funding WRDA has experienced in recent years.  As a result, we have scaled back several programs and we will face further reductions in October if Congress does not approve sufficient funding in the FY15 federal budget.

While this drop is dramatic, over the past several years public funding has been decreasing steadily---yet God has been faithful.  Even in the face of these cuts, we believe He will again be faithful through His people.  We believe that, as Bruce and Djou said so well, churches and individual donors are willing to step up to serve refugees and provide for the funds World Relief needs to continue to be a part of serving refugees, immigrants, and local churches.

I want to highlight two ways that you can be a part of helping us meet current challenges:

- On Friday, September 26 WRDA will host its annual benefit dinner at Piper’s Banquets.  This is always an important event for us, but never more than this year in light of these funding cuts.  It will be an inspiring evening of seeing how God has worked in the lives of immigrants and volunteers, as well as hearing a special message from Evelyn Mangham, one of the co-founders of World Relief’s Refugee Ministry 35 years ago.  You can help to fill the hall with supporters, friends, churches and sponsors.  Tickets are available now.  Click here for more information.

- We are 2/3 of the way toward our goal of raising $15,000 to meet a challenge grant of another $15,000 from the IDP Foundation for teaching Job Readiness ESL, which prepares refugees for jobs in the U.S.   The deadline for this match is fast approaching, so if you are willing to help us reach this goal, click here and choose “Help a Child or Adult Learn English” to designate your gift to this match.  Or, for more information, contact Bill Janus at bjanus@wr.org.

I ask you to pray for immigrants coming to our communities, to pray for the Church to rise up to welcome immigrants in the name of Jesus, and pray for us here at World Relief as we endeavor to do what God places before us each day.  I hope to see you in September!

Emily B. Gray, LCSW
Executive Director