Journeying with Refugees: A Summer at CWS

My name is Josiah Brock. I am about to begin the final year of my journey at Duke Divinity School and with it brings the anxiety of having to find a real job, the uncertainty of being left adrift in a sea of ministry. This summer I was given a perspective I do not usually have the eyes to see. My summer began differently than any in recent memory. This summer I was not sent to some church to lead some group of young Christians, to be their mentor and spiritual guide. This year I was truly sent to serve the least of these. To clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger. I was sent to work with CWS, a refugee resettlement agency.

My work at CWS mostly has me accompanying refugees to various appointments. By doing so, I have learned more about the clients and their journey than I ever could have imagined. One of the most pronounced trips for me was taking a client to pick up his family from the airport. I waited and watched as a brother fidgeted nervously while passenger after passenger walked past us with no sign of his family. Finally an airline agent brought his family out–they had been waiting patiently for us by the gate. The resulting relief that flooded everyone’s faces is an image that will be seared onto my brain for years to come. I pray that I will never know the fear he experienced that day. And as long as my family and I have a safe place to sleep and warm food to eat, I will continue to offer the same to those less fortunate than myself.

Josiah working with a pair of Congolese clients in an ESL class.

Josiah working with a pair of Congolese clients in an ESL class.

In my career, I may work in refugee resettlement or I may minister in another capacity, but I know that these ten weeks working with refugees will forever change how I view people and how I view my ministry. I have seen people who have traveled to another country with little more than the clothes on their back adapt to a new life and culture. I have watched them grow and thrive even in my short tenure. I have seen people reunited with loved ones after months separated. I have heard fathers talk about the children they had to leave behind in their home countries. I pray that no matter where my career and ministry takes me, that I will remember what I have seen and heard and I pray that I will have the strength to be an advocate for a better world through these experiences. My time at CWS has been a blessing for me and will inspire me in my preaching and teaching. I will continue to be a part of the work done at CWS, whether in North Carolina or wherever my ministry takes me.

Anyone can help by volunteering to take clients to doctor’s appointments, visiting clients, helping to teach them English. For more on how to get involved with our volunteer program, click here. We also need donations offurniture and household items. Part of our job at CWS is to prepare apartments for the new arrivals in America. This involves putting a bed, dresser, table, chairs, and a couch in the apartment. These things get expensive and we have a limited amount of money for each client. Every donated mattress, table, and chair is one fewer that we have to purchase. To donate furniture and household items, just give us a call at 919-680-4310.

A group of Somali children enjoys a week at Museum of Life and Science camp.

Josiah helped a group of Somali children enjoy a week at Durham’s Museum of Life and Science camp.

-Josiah Brock, Duke Divinity Summer Intern


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