Y'know what? We're really proud of how our Tour has gone. We haven't had one presentation that felt discouraging or like a waste of time - not one. Each time we've spoken, we've been encouraged to meet at least one person who felt impacted by our message and nudged towards proactive change.
As we speak so highly of our Tour, it is due time to say that our boast in all this is in God alone. The flow of our Tour, the smoothness of our presentations, the timing of our message, the generosity we've received along the way, the encouragement we've heard, these all point to God's help in it all. As we explored a number of countries within six continents over the last few years, much of our travels felt random or unpointed. God seemed to bring these amblings and findings together so beautiful, at a time where masses of people were willing and waiting to hear a positive outlook on the refugee crisis; waiting to hear what part they could play. We're a little in awe of how God pulled this all together, and so beautifully at that.
Here, we want to share a few of our favourite stories that were a result of our Tour presentations.
- In our first week in New Zealand we met with a young couple passionate about refugees. They informed us of New Zealand's system for resettling refugees and processing asylum seekers. Because of this meeting, during the rest of our New Zealand Tour we were able to inform others on their country's procedures as well as answer quite specific questions
- We met a lady who had been passionate about refugees since she was five but she'd never connected with a refugee. We gave her an information packet of suggestions for building relationships with refugees in the local community
- One of our hosts reprinted our challenge cards to hand out and is currently printing her own Status:Welcomed t-shirts
- We have a photo of a refugee camp in Thailand that we show as we speak. We've met multiple people who either lived in that camp or know people who did and we were able to give them prints of this photo
- A lady heard us speak and shared her desire to sponsor a refugee family with New Zealand's Red Cross
- Status:Welcomed is being translated into Norwegian by a teacher so that he can get his class to do our 52 week challenge
- A husband and wife (economic migrants) from an African nation heard us speak and afterwards addressed the group affirming our message of hospitality, saying their own story was hopeful and aided because of the support network they had around them
- We hand out asylum application forms in foreign language/script and ask people to try and fill the forms out (it's near impossible to decipher) to simulate the difficulty of applying for refugee status when you don't speak the national language. A lady took some forms home because she wanted to show her family
- We've met students who want their student houses to do the 52 Week Challenge together
- We've given out more than 50 DIY Status:Welcomed packets. These packets give people our challenge cards as well as tools to encourage others towards the welcoming of refugees
- We shared a Bible verse from Leviticus about caring for the foreigner and the group said the previous Sunday's preach had been based on that verse. A lady shared that she was certain that God was imploring them towards action
- We met a lady from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and gave her a photo we took within Myanmar
- We met a youth group of Karen refugees (Karen is a state in Myanmar) who confirmed to us that friends made their transition story easier. Meeting them was a highlight of our Tour
- A college we spoke at gave us a gift-voucher for gas/petrol and a few others have given really practically towards our Tour costs
- A group of students voiced that they've never thought about refugees beyond what they saw in the media, but now they'll think with more compassion towards their stories
- Thanks to the generosity of people who've heard us speak, we've sold a lot of our merchandise and have money to donate to two refugee aid organisations that we've worked with closesly