Lighting the Way

The Arab-American Learning Center helps more than 20 refugee families a day. The Awabdehs are pictured on the left.

During Thanksgiving week, the Arab-American Learning Center in Sacramento, California, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for Middle Eastern refugees. “It was an act of divine love to a broken and oppressed community,” said Raed Awebdeh, an Alliance pastor who leads the ministry.

Local and national news media were present to report the event. When they asked about his motive for hosting the dinner, Awebdeh told them, “Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself, so we show our love in practical ways.”

Awebdeh believes he is uniquely qualified to reach the Middle Eastern refugee community in the Sacramento area. “Because I attended school in the United States and am acquainted with American culture, I am able to help immigrants in credible ways that form relationships and open doors to preach the gospel without offending them,” he explained.

On an average day, the center ministers to more than 20 families; each case represents traumatized souls. “The refugees have lost everything—their possessions, culture, language, and identities,” said Awebdeh. “We offer services that help them settle in their new land, and we share the good news of Jesus.”

As they enter the facility, the families are welcomed with a daily Scripture verse written on a white board. They also receive Bibles and DVDs of the JESUS film. A successful children’s ministry to ages 4–14 is under way as well.

“About 300 people were blessed by the Thanksgiving outreach,” said Awebdeh.  “One person told me, ‘You are the candle that brings light to our lives.’”

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