A Note Form Khedija

In March, 1997, First Baptist welcomed 13 people fleeing Iraq and the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Over 50 people in our congregation were directly involved in helping them adjust to their new life – securing housing, learning English, finding jobs, feeling safe and loved. Twenty years later, all of the Othman family except Hadar (who has returned to a safe place in Iraq to raise her family and teach English) and Elias and Khalid are still in Greenville and doing well. We gathered recently on a Sunday afternoon to remember and re-connect. The next day, Khedija (who was 2 when they arrived) wrote this letter expressing her family’s feelings. Although it is addressed to me, it is meant for the entire congregation. What a wonderful tribute to the FBG family – never doubt that you DO make a difference!

— Susan K. Shelley

“It was wonderful catching up with you and
every one else who helped us when we came
to America. You all Are the reason I have hope
for the future in this country. We came from
two different country’s. Speak two different
languages. We eat different foods. We have two
different religions. Yet you and every one who
helped didn’t see that. Y’all saw us as people.
People who needed help and came to a new
country. Y’all showed us the basics of living in
America. The simple things that we didn’t know.
Like how to use a washer machine or how to
enroll in school or (my favorite) how to do the
hokey pokey! You and every one have impacted
our lives so much. You made it possible for us to
have a future and live in a country where freedom
is given and we are equal. I learned a lot about
my family and myself talking to y’all. Like I cried
every time going to school because I didn’t want
to go and I was so happy when I would see the
car waiting for me after school. I learned I was
a kind of a hand full. And that I would opened
and closed the window 100 times in a car ride.
I learned so much. I learned that there are good
hearted, wonderful people in this world and
they wanted to help us. They wanted us to be
happy and live in America. This was your home
and you all have welcomed us here. This! is why
America is great Our difference didn’t impact
us negatively, only educated us about our back
grounds. So, thank you, Susan Shelley and all
the wonderful people at your church who helped
us 20 years ago. You. All. Are. Truly. Blessings!”