To fully understand the story of Jamila’s housing crisis and the way one church stepped in to make all the difference, you must understand God’s incredible timing using circumstances.
Jamila is a single mother of 3 young boys who fled Mozambique due to an unsafe situation. After arriving in Minnesota, she was living in transitional housing for almost 2 years.
Housing is one of the greatest needs refugees and asylum seekers have…Jamila was not eligible for most social services due to her immigration status as an asylum seeker; and affordable housing was her biggest hurdle.
Through Arrive Ministries, Jamila was partnered with a church team from Bethlehem Baptist Church. At a recent Refugee Life Ministries (RLM) training, the RLM church team leader shared a prayer request to find Jamila housing. Sitting next to the Bethlehem volunteer was another Arrive Ministries volunteer, David McCoy.
“As (the team leader) is sharing her prayer request, and this alarm is going off in my head, ‘We have these properties at our church that have been used to house refugees in the past,” said David McCoy.
David had learned about the properties only a couple of weeks earlier. His pastor had casually mentioned them in passing during a conversation he and David were having about forming an RLM team at First Free.
When David went back to tell his pastor about Jamila’s need for housing, he learned one of First Free’s three South Minneapolis houses had just opened up.
“Housing is one of the greatest needs refugees and asylum seekers have,” said Wendy Meyering, RLM Program Director.
Jamila needed a few more months to figure out some financial and work barriers before she could sign a lease. But Arrive Ministries’ staff learned through a church team in St. Louis Park, of a Congolese family of five who needed a new housing situation within 2 days.
It was a housing match! The next day the Congolese family signed a lease and moved into the open house at First Free Church.
Three months later, another of First Free’s houses opened up next door, and by this time Jamila was able to sign a year lease with First Free; she and her sons could move in immediately. Another housing match!
Where First Free had initially planned to house one family, God had clearly planned for them to house two.
“It could have just been 17 coincidences. But clearly it’s not just a coincidence, the timing was God working his plan for good,” said McCoy.
…it’s not just a coincidence, the timing was God working his plan for good.Jamila now has a full time job, stable housing, transportation, and childcare lined up for the next year. God even had the smallest details worked out. Jamila speaks French, the language from her country of origin. The church’s property manager? He speaks French.
“This is not a story about First Free’s generosity. God has had a plan this whole time for this woman, and because we were a little willing to participate in obedience, we get to be a part of God’s plan and generosity,” said McCoy.
“Even though Arrive Ministries did not resettle either of these families, it’s amazing to see these churches step into the complicated nature of responding to felt needs. God was in this; and the church was motivated. This is next-level investing in God’s people, and this is what we are called to do,” said Meyering.