Diapers from Jesus

by Emma Pirela, Mission Georgia Refugee Ministry Mobilizer

I could never tell you what it is like to step out of a Kenyan refugee camp for the first time.

I could never explain what it’s like to be a young mom, 6 months pregnant, boarding a plane to restart my life in a far-off city called Atlanta. I don’t have the words to share how it may feel to leave my whole world behind. But my friend Elizabeth could tell you.

Community Building in Clarkston: Embracing Diversity and Support

I met Elizabeth where I live in Clarkston, Georgia, a small suburb of Atlanta, just one square mile. Within our little town, there are over 60 languages spoken and 120 different people groups represented. Around 2,000 refugees are resettled every year in Clarkston, which is how we have become known as the most diverse square mile in America.

I serve as the Mission Georgia Refugee Ministry Mobilizer and I work with newly arrived refugee families, building relationships for the sake of the gospel.

I love partnering with volunteers from Georgia Baptist churches to walk alongside families as they adjust to new life in the United States. Volunteers will often help us pack care kits with household goods, baby items, and children’s toys for new families. I always enjoy getting to deliver these care kits. Some of the best ministry moments take place in families’ homes, sharing cups of tea and exchanging stories. 

Let’s get back to my story of how I met Elizabeth, a courageous Sudanese woman, and how the Lord provided for her. 

A volunteer team came to visit Clarkston and asked me what they could bring to bless some families. I had recently connected with two different expectant women, so I told the group they could collect some baby items for these moms. I was so overjoyed to see them arrive with not two but three huge baskets full of diapers, onesies, bottles, and more!

We visited the two ladies and gave them their baskets and prayed over the little babies. They told me to hold on to the extra basket so I could bless someone else with it. It was a large basket with a big blue bow on the top and full of things for a baby boy.

I ended up sticking the basket in the trunk of my car, intending to put it in our donation room at church, but then forgot about it.

Weeks went by, and soon we were in the midst of the long hot Georgia summer and all the frantic busyness it brings. We had just collected Mission Georgia Backpacks filled with school supplies for families in Clarkston, and I was helping deliver many of these backpacks.

As I was making my list of families, someone told me that they had recently met a brand-new family that had only just arrived a few weeks ago. They were from South Sudan but had been living in a refugee camp in Kenya for many years. I thought I would stop by their home and offer some backpacks for the children. 

A Personal Encounter: The Story of Elizabeth

As I knocked on the door, I whispered a quick prayer.

The door swung open, and standing before me was Elizabeth, a beautiful yet timid young woman with a baby bump that looked just about ready to pop.

Her English was good enough that I could tell her who I was and why I was there.

She smiled at me and, though I was a stranger, welcomed me into her home.

As we talked back and forth about our families, and our lives, we discovered that we were the exact same age. We were born at the same time, yet our lives were so different. But here we were, sitting in this little hot Georgia apartment together exchanging stories. Eventually, I asked about her baby. She shared with me that she was having a little boy and it was very clear to me that she didn’t have much for his arrival.

That’s when I felt the Lord whisper to me to remind me about the basket full of baby boy items sitting in the trunk of my car.

I said, “Can you wait for just a second? I have something in my car for you,” and I hurried out to get the basket that was just waiting for a family to go to.

Message Received: Diapers From Jesus

As I brought it back inside the apartment, Elizabeth’s eyes lit up. I told her that a church group gave this basket of diapers and baby supplies to me and that I had been praying about who to give it to.

“You have brought me diapers from Jesus!” she said.

It was hard not to tear up to see this woman, who had left everything behind, now receive a simple gift from the Lord. She hugged me and told me she was very happy to make a new friend in America. I was very happy to make a new friend, too.

The Lord continually teaches me new things in refugee ministry. He is constantly showing me stories just like Elizabeth’s, where He is working and restoring lives. He taught me a very sweet lesson from Elizabeth herself that day: welcoming in the stranger will often bring the sweetest blessings and the dearest friends.