The City of Portland is currently welcoming hundreds of new asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. These families have found their way to our city after long, taxing journeys from Brazil and through Central America. They immigrated into the US legally at the Texas borders crossing, claiming asylum and hoping for a welcome home. They were then screened and processed and given a bus ticket to Portland, ME, where the city arranged for them to stay in a make shift shelter, set up at the Portland Expo.
Last night, I was able to visit the Expo along with Ministry Coordinator, Sean Noe and our Executive Director, Drew King. We found that over 150 men, women and many children were currently being given shelter and meals, with an an additional 200 expected on Saturday. There are reports that hundreds more are expected in the coming weeks. Each person represents an incredible journey from Central Africa to South America and through Central America on foot, into Texas and finally Maine. Each person at The Expo has demonstrated the kind of effort that only happens when desperation and determination meet - and no doubt, faith and hope.
HOW TO HELP
This is an extraordinary opportunity to follow the way of Jesus and welcome the stranger, the immigrant, the asylum seeker. We are excited to welcome them into their new home where they will find a safe community and eventually become a contributing part of our neighborhoods.
There is much work to be done in the coming weeks - but we are asking those willing to work with us to stand by. We are in communication with city officials and working together to provide the specific services and respond to the specific needs that we, as The Root Cellar family, are uniquely positioned to help with. The City has requested that people not come to, or drop off in-kind donations at the Expo, as these efforts are being coordinated.
We are going to need your help - so continue to pray and connect with us as we work with our other partners across the city to welcome our new neighbors.
In the mean-time we have 2 ways that you can contribute to this effort.
Make a Donation to the City of Portland’s Asylum Seeker Support Fund. This is a true need and worth your financial contribution. TEXT TO DONATE - TEXT THE WORD EXPO TO 91999 or click here to LEARN MORE.
Make a card with a welcoming message to our new neighbors. This is a great way to let these incredible people know that you love them, support them and are so happy that they are safe. These cards can be dropped off at either our Lewiston or Portland locations and we can make sure they are delivered to a new asylum seeker family. If you want to really get fancy, use Google Translate to write your card in French and/or Portuguese so that they can read your message in their home language.
Stay ready and stay tuned. This is dynamic and new details are constantly coming at us!
- Joel Furrow
Site Director in Lewiston and Portland