Due West UMC Prepares to Welcome Afghan Refugees to Metro Atlanta


By Sybil Davidson

Due West UMC in Marietta is setting the table to welcome 70 Afghan refugees to the Atlanta area in the coming days. Church members are preparing comfort baskets, clothing, and a meal.

The opportunity came by way of another church mission, the Waymaker Women's Pregnancy Resource Center. A partner organization of the Waymaker ministry is working with the U.S. government to receive the refugees and arrange for immediate and long-term housing. 

It started with a request to Due West to help identify host families. 

"After sharing the opportunity, I was inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails," said Kerri Casteel, church mission chair and part-time director of Women's Ministries and Waymaker Women's Center. She made the connections and asked, what more can we do?

The answer came in the opportunity for the church to provide a lunch or dinner on the refugee's arrival day, giving them a place to meet with their hosts and a welcoming transition point. Church members are preparing comfort baskets to give each guest, who may arrive with little more than a backpack. At the same time, the church will provide the location for host families to go through orientation, meet case workers, interpreters if needed, learn about housing, and school enrollment.

"We just want to be a good steward of God's will," said Kerri. "It is such an honor. It is an honor to be able to do this."

Church members are on standby and church staff are prepared to be available whenever the call comes — in this situation or another. 

"Due West is blessed with these kinds of opportunities because the church never forgets that we exist for the community and the world around us," said Rev. Dr. David Campbell, pastor of Due West UMC. "We have spent years developing strong ministry partnerships so that we are able to hear and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. I encourage every church to have a wide network of contacts and always be prepared for a prompting of the Spirit to get involved and be the hands and feet of Christ when these doors open!"

In a full-circle moment, Kerri, for whom the ministry of the Waymaker Women's Center is truly a passion, has gotten word that some of the refugees are pregnant.