When Strangers Become Family

Posted by Kaylee K on Friday, May 24, 2019 Under: Unaccompanied Refugee Youth
It's been a while since we posted a blog post. In February, a young lady named Esther from the Democratic Republic of Congo moved in with us. She is an unaccompanied asylee and was aging out of the Office of Refugee Resettlement youth system. She needed a home and wanted to be part of a family. After a quick Zoom chat and some prayer, John and I invited Esther to live with us. She agreed and moved in on her 18th birthday.

We've had ups and downs together and lots of learning. Most days we laugh a lot and some days we have really tough conversations. For all the time John and I have spent with refugees and unaccompanied youth while working with a variety of organizations, this experience with Esther is so personal and requires a lot of leaning into Jesus to know how to respond and what to do each day. We are getting a daily experience of what life is like for a young refugee in our country. And it definitely has it's challenges. But we've also seen a lot of reason for hope for Esther's future and are grateful to be part of her journey.

I had the opportunity to trace John's and my journey to hosting Esther at the request a foster care publication. I documented how we got involved with refugee ministry to creating Refugee Connect through our time serving with IAFR, and then onto creating the Mobilized for Unaccompanied Minors (MUM) Network and our time with ministry partners in Europe. All of which ultimately led us to Esther.

Over the last decade in refugee ministry, there have been many times when it felt like we were shifting gears or maybe hadn't heard correctly when we thought God had led us to Italy or to France or to Philly. But as I wrote this article about the journey, for the first time it all made sense. I can see His hand in all of it. While human minds try to make straight lines to desired destinations, God has a way of creating a beautiful tapestry through weaving experiences, people and places together in unexpected ways. We are really excited to see what He will add to this tapestry in the coming months and years as we explore with Esther and a local organization how to create a hosting program to help other unaccompanied youth.

I hope you'll read the article to get a sense for the journey and how God's route is often not the one we'd create...but it is always the right path at the right time leading to something better than we can ever plan for ourselves....The Road to Esther

In : Unaccompanied Refugee Youth 

Tags: god  faith  unaccompanied yoresources/johnkayleeesther.jpguth  aging out 

Blog Authors

John and Kaylee Kolditz Kaylee founded Refugee Connect in 2008. John joined the work in 2011 as we investigated the refugee situation in Europe. But our faith and cross-cultural journeys have been a work-in-progress for many years. Much of this blog reflects that. ************************************************ We met in Austin, TX, while volunteering at a serving event at Gateway Church and have been married since 2002. Marriage, parenting and ministry all require a great deal of intentionality, humility and true reliance on God for strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a journey we are grateful to be on together. Ultimately, what matters to us is building into meaningful relationships in ways that, to the best of our ability and by God's grace, demonstrate the love and hope Jesus freely offers to us all. ************************************************ We bring both business and ministry backgrounds into our current work. John started a business in his 20's and helped build several other businesses. He has also served with churches in a variety of roles including as an assistant pastor, director of community development, and missions board member. Kaylee left her marketing career to become the global missions director for our home church in Austin, TX, then founded a local refugee ministry, and became TEFL certified (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in order to prepare for our work overseas. We have led short-term teams domestically and internationally, and served with a variety of cross-cultural ministries. In 2008, we sensed a call to build into the church in Europe, which was also around the time when God broke Kaylee’s heart for refugees. Since then, God has continued to weave together this heart for refugees, desire to serve alongside the church, and focus on His call to Europe.

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