African Refugees from Malawi have resettled in Odessa, TX, and found their way to First United Methodist Church in Odessa.
Almost one year ago, a group of around 40 refugees went to FUMC Odessa. They asked for space to hold their own worship services in their first language, Swahili. The church granted this request and more than welcoming the refugees into their space, they welcomed them into their hearts.
As the cost of housing and living have risen in Odessa and the whole Permian Basin due to the oil boom, a housing shortage has developed.
When the news of needing housing for some of the refugees was shared in church one Sunday, members began to respond. Two houses were donated the very next day.
Over the following months, the church, along with some funding from the District Board of Missions, has paid for the renovation of these houses (pictures below), and provided furniture, appliances, food, and clothing.
Church members, including Marsha Melton, have assisted the refugees in finding English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, in filling out forms for Texas Health Services, and in applying for jobs.
"I am pleased to say that the refugees are doing well. Most have jobs and a place to live.
It has given us all an opportunity to learn about their culture. They have been a blessing to our church."
As part of this relationship, FUMC Odessa has also supported building a church in Malawi and discussed the possibility of taking a mission trip there.
If you'd like to learn more about the work with African Refugees in Odessa, please contact Marsha Melton at