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Update on Congolese Refugees

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by Emily Morrison

Our Minnesota winters are famous (infamous?) for frigidity and weathering your first Minnesota blizzard is a rite of passage!

This year, 15 Congolese families bracing for their first sub-freezing weather came to our partner organization, Voice in the Wilderness, with a request: “We hear it’s going to be cold, and we’re a little nervous. Can you help us?” In response, we teamed up to host their first ever coat drive, and together we gathered enough winter gear to help these families brave the cold. Thanks for your support!

The story doesn’t end there, though. We’ve since learned that our Congolese sisters and brothers need our help in a new way.

This week, due to new immigration policies here in the United States, 100 Congolese refugee families were turned away from their planned departures for the States and had to travel back to refugee camps in Tanzania and Kenya. This has been a devastating turn of events. Some of these families have been living in camps for as long as twenty years. Others were looking forward to reuniting with family in the U.S. after being apart for five years or more. These families are heartbroken. Many already gave away their possessions, so they are returning to the camps empty-handed.

The new immigration policies have created a new landscape to navigate, so the future is uncertain. The process of vetting and getting approval to immigrate is long and grueling, and these families don’t know if they will be given another chance in the near future or if they will have to start their applications over from scratch.

The individuals turned away include some family members of those in the Congolese congregation that meets at Woodland. Kilo Kisongo, co-founder of Voice in the Wilderness also learned that his cousin’s family was turned back.

“We don’t have any answers,” says Kilo. “It’s breaking hope for them.”

We asked how we can help, and Kilo said, “Pray. Pray, because prayer is powerful for the families that are broken. Nothing would comfort them more than finding strength and hope that God could find a way. And pray that there will be leaders who will remember refugees and make decisions to help them.”

The way ahead is uncertain and at least for now, very discouraging. We know that when one part of the body suffers, all the others suffer along with it. May we grieve and lament with our Congolese sisters and brothers.

Together we have already loved well for those families who have arrived here and need to prepare for the coming winter. Please join us and continue to love in prayer!

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