On Sunday, March 24, Rev. Daniel Schweissing and his wife Estela, missionaries for American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains, led a diverse group in exercises which identified basic differences to consider when helping refugees resettle to Delta.
The same circumstances exist in any situation when a person comes from a community where he or she had been a part of the mainstream and, in resettling, becomes a person on the margin.
First Baptist Church in Delta hosted the seminar, which was attended by 46 people, in addition to the presenters, Pastor James Conley and staff from First Baptist.
There were many talents among the participants which are being used to aid resettlement for Karen people and other immigrants: people from the school district, tutors of English as a Second Language, one-on-one tutors, agricultural professionals, social agency professionals, interpreters, pastors from English and Karen communities, other specialized disciplines and people who are interested in learning about and helping in resettlement.
Rev. Schweissing said immediate impediments to successful resettlement exist which place the relocated person on the margin. These occur because of their operating on an internal set of social rules and, usually, because of speech.
Led by the Schweissings, participants identified some features of a person on the margin. These included speech, clothing, preferred foods, what part of town the person lives in, and knowing the mainstream has the power over and sets the norms for the people on the margin.
He asked participants to close their eyes and remember a time when they were on the margin, what it felt like, and what they wanted to say to the mainstream.
Feelings of the person on the margin were identified as lonely, unwanted, frustrated, self-conscious, uncomfortable, excited, inferior, sad, scared, adventuresome, rejected, bad, angry, humiliated, alone and searching for help.
What they would like to have said to those in the mainstream were: You think you are better than I am; You're acting superior; You are clueless; You are intimidating; You are in control; You are safe; You are arrogant.
Rev. Schweissing said, "We are all in the margin at some times, in some circumstances. And we are all in the mainstream at times. When we are in the mainstream, we need to remember to act better because we remember our time in the margin."
He led the participants in identifying productive behavior to exercise while in the mainstream: We're all the same; Spend time looking beyond yourself; Take time to get to know others; Remind yourself of the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.)
Dan Schweissing is a fifth-generation Coloradan. He has been on several cross-cultural mission trips and served in Haiti for nine years. Estela, whose home country is the Dominican Republic, is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. As married missionaries, they served in the Bahamas with International Ministries of the American Baptist Church for a decade. Estela has worked with women caught in the sex-trafficking trade and in children's ministries.
Both work with Karen people in the Aurora-Denver area. They have been region missionaries to the Western Slope for four years. They see their purpose as responsibility for cross-cultural diversity in our communities, Dan said.
The Schweissings' mission includes refugee resettlement, finding churches to sponsor a refugee family, homework tutoring, summer day camp, Front Range camp for youth, and hosting workshops to help others in understanding refugees and immigrants.blog comments powered by Disqus