Jesuit Volunteers are able to truly focus on relationships of mutuality during their service experience. Our volunteers share that they leave with a widened sense of the power of humanity, connection, God and interfaith. For Liz, this occurred in conversations with co-workers and those Liz serves at Catholic Charities.
This year I am serving as an Employment Specialist with Catholic Charities of Tennessee in their Refugee and Immigration Services department. My placement accompanies newly arrived refugees through the employment process, and helps families and individuals feel welcome to their new home in America! At my placement site, I have witnessed the power of accompaniment and being present to those we serve.
Many of my co-workers are former refugees who have advanced degrees from their home countries. I have spoken with several about the work we do and why we do it. Many of my colleagues have expressed the belief that God/Allah has put them here so that they can serve others and help their fellow community members who have fled from similar crises they left. We come from all different backgrounds, faith traditions, and cultures but we are all connected. Community support networks in Nashville among refugee populations, as well as native Nashvillians, has illuminated to me the power of human kindness and what it means to live in a society that hopes the best for all who call it home.
One particular grounding moment for me was when I was accompanying a client who was badly beaten in their home country for practicing Christianity. I found myself thinking of the persecution of Jesus and the disciples for their faith and others throughout history as we drove along a highway in Nashville. This client spoke with me about their views on faith, God, and hope.
In that moment, this client was able to speak freely without fear and their joy exuded from every word. Accompaniment, in that moment, was to be present, listen and respond with compassion. I felt overwhelmed with the sense of humility and joy in seeing God in this client. I think far too often that we forget the humanity of those outside of our circles. When we share kindness with the whole of humanity, it has a ripple effect and spreads across communities across neighborhoods, countries and around our world.