Speaker: Susan Deason, Mission Committee Chair, Wesley United Methodist Church
What motivated your congregation to apply for a Mustard Seed Migration Grant?
Susan Deason: We learned that many migrants in our community of Bloomington, Illinois are in need of short-term emergency assistance with food, rent, gasoline, transportation and utility and medical bills as they are trying to get settled in our community. Their situations fell through various gaps to receive funding from other sources, often because they didn't have birth certificates or other kinds of documents that are unfamiliar to the country that they have left. We felt our church could help refugees and migrants in need in our community where other resources aren't readily available.
Describe your Mustard Seed Migration Grant project.
Susan Deason: A local organization named the Immigration Project will refer a person to us who is in need of emergency funding. Their organization could assist immigrants in many legal ways but they do not provide direct financial assistance for many needs. Wesley Church fills that gap by using funds from the Mustard Seed Migration Grant and other funding that we raised from a dinner that focused on Venezuelan cuisine and with speakers from Venezuela.
What impact do you hope your Mustard Seed Migration Grant will have in your community?
Susan Deason: We already have seen the impact where residents from many different countries know our church as a caring church. The emergency need funds as well as a ministry of our church that distributes paper products to all residents in need, helps those as they get through their time of struggle and become more firmly settled and independent, allowing them to reach out and to help others.
Why is work with refugees and migrants an important ministry of the church?
Susan Deason: A staff member from the local organization called the Immigration Project said these words: "Immigrants and asylum seekers come here through different routes. But all of them are taking a real leap of faith, believing that there's a place where you can live free from persecution and holding on to a hope that there will be someone there, maybe just one kind soul, maybe a community, maybe a church, that would welcome you and help you as you start your entire life again in a new country." Our church wants to welcome immigrants and asylum seekers to start their lives again and respond to the call of Matthew 25:40, which says, "I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me."