We join God in His work of reconciliation; seeing that which is broken redeemed to new life.
Shalom is often experienced in unexpected ways.
During our Thursday morning Clothing Distribution, we experienced the day-to-day difficulties of our new refugee families, sometimes in heart wrenching ways. One gentleman, James, had his backpack stolen while he was with us. His English was very limited, but we learned that his official paperwork, his visa documentation and more than $700 were in it.
At first we were puzzled why he would keep such valuable documents and all his cash with him in a backpack but then we realized that he had no access to a bank or a deposit box to safely keep his possessions.
Most of our new refugee families arrive in the United States with everything they own and, having had many traumatic experiences are understandably slow to trust even federal or banking establishments with what they own. They are unwilling to leave important things in the small apartments given to them by the city and often end up carrying them wherever they go.
In this case, James, was painfully upset over his loss, knowing that without documents he might face deportation.
Fortunately, we were able to track down the offender who took the backpack and, after negotiation with both of them, which happened in a number of languages simultaneously, we followed him down the road to a dumpster where it was hidden with the documents intact, but the money missing. After everyone returned to The Root Cellar and more conversations with both of them, we witnessed the offender on his knees and deeply afraid, petition James not to press charges, after giving back more than the money lost. James said it was more important to have peace between them.
It was a moving and unforgettable moment for all of us as they shook hands and parted ways. Great misfortune was avoided and a just and peaceful resolution, that once seemed impossible, was found as we worked together.