By the Rev. RJ Jun, Associate Director of Serving Ministries
“RJ, we need some cars to be donated.”
This request from a VAUMC Refugee Response team member created a moment of silence during the monthly Zoom meeting where the greatest needs of our new neighbors are discussed.
That comment threw me to 2004 when I immigrated to the States as an international student. To adjust, people shared we would first need to get a driver’s license and a vehicle. I see now how that recommendation became essential to settling into this country. At the same time, I thought about how different this reality will be perceived for people who needed to evacuate from their home country in such a rush, different from my long-planned decision to study abroad. But it seemed like the suggestion of the team member would have been buried under other needs to attend to for our new neighbors.
When the meeting was over, another team member called and shared that their family was in the process of purchasing a new car and that the minivan that they used could be donated if it would be helpful for the family. The minivan needed about $5,000 worth of repairs to be a dependable means of transport so the family decided to sell it for what it was worth and purchase a new vehicle. But after attending the meeting, the member saw that this minivan could be donated to a refugee family if someone could help with the repairs.
The word was shared with the Refugee Response team, and a member connected us with a family that was in need of means of transportation. After hearing that the refugee family settled in Arlington, we thought of reaching out to some United Methodist Churches. With the experience of serving at the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington, I contacted Mr. Steve Chi, a lay member of the church and a mechanic. He said he would like to see the minivan and see if he could do the repairs for the family at a reduced rate. He identified the immediate need for repair and applied a discount, lowering the cost of repair from $5,500 to $1,800. Korean United Methodist of Greater Washington heard about this project and agreed to raise enough funds not only to cover the cost of this repair but also funds so this type of work can continue through the support of the VAUMC Refugee Response team.
“It has been such a huge relief knowing that we have a car. Thank you. We are so appreciative of your help. We are a big family, and this car will certainly help us move more efficiently around. We can’t wait to use it well and you will be on our minds while we have it,” said the family who received the car.” – Makhfi Family
This story highlights why we are a connected church. Together with connected people willing to live out the call of discipleship and moments of silence space is created for God to move God’s people to fill in that void. And we wonder, can this become a ministry to provide means of transportation to people who are in need? Could we create a network of United Methodist Mechanics who can offer their time and skill to repair cars that are donated? Could we create a fund to cover the repair cost so it doesn’t burden the families who will receive the vehicle or the mechanics that offer their gifts? Could this be actively happening in our churches and districts? Could Serving Ministries assist the effort of the churches to better connect gifts and talents around the Conference? Am I just dreaming? Or can we dream this together?