12 August, 2022

Fresno Church Sponsoring Summer Camp for Afghan Refugee Children

by | 24 June, 2022

By Chris Moon 

CrossCity Christian Church in Fresno, Calif., is spearheading an effort to offer a summer camp for Afghan refugee children in its community. 

Forty families relocated to Fresno from Afghanistan following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from that nation last summer. CrossCity has sponsored one of those families, said Nick D’Acquisto, the church’s missions pastor. 

The summer camp is a way to reach more of them with the love of Christ. 

“It’s really cool to see it all come together,” D’Acquisto said. 

The three-week camp started June 14. The children meet for two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a local gymnastics and dance facility owned by a member of CrossCity. 

The kids have practiced gymnastics skills, learned dances, and even tried out tae kwon do. Older kids have been learning archery. 

The idea sprang from the church’s involvement with the family it has sponsored.  

CrossCity helped that family of five find housing and furniture. Volunteers brought meals and got the kids into school. The church also helped the father find a job and obtain a driver’s license. 

And all of that despite a serious language barrier. The family speaks Farsi, not English. 

Still, the work has led to new ideas.  

D’Acquisto said his wife, Sara, had the idea for the summer camp after realizing the Afghan kids would be getting out school with nothing to do for the summer. 

The church partnered with Bethany Christian Services, a global social services organization that has been providing for many of the needs of the refugee families, to get the word out. 

“We just kind of created it out of thin air,” D’Acquisto said. 

Twelve to fifteen kids have shown up each day for the camp thus far. 

D’Acquisto said the parents of the kids attend each session and watch from the sidelines. The idea eventually is to share Christianity with the families, in part to change their perceptions of Christ and his church. 

“Their view, from what we understand, of the Christian church in America is not good,” he said. 

D’Acquisto said 14 volunteers from CrossCity have been helping with the camp. 

The language barrier has been difficult. But church members have been able to communicate about faith matters with some of the Afghan parents, all of whom are practicing Muslims. 

“That’s where the actual change is going to happen. But a lot of it is relationship-building [initially],” he said. 

LEARNING THE CULTURE 

Punctuality has been an interesting cultural challenge, D’Acquisto said.  

“Getting the families to commit to coming and being there on time has been a bit overwhelming,” he said. “But with more volunteers helping, it has progressively gotten better. Time is fluid to Afghans.” 

D’Acquisto said every community has needs that can be met by the church, and this was one way CrossCity could serve its community. He noted the biblical admonition for God’s people to take care of foreigners.  

He also said “sensitivity and understanding” are important components of ministries like the Afghan kids’ camp. 

“Our Afghan friends are deeply rooted in their Muslim faith,” he said. “Instead of shrugging that off and pushing our own agenda, it’s imperative to comprehend their background and faith. 

“Becoming educated is key, because once you understand their background, you can then begin to find commonalities,” he said. “And once common ground is found, friendship and trust can flourish. And through that, they will begin to see the hands and feet of Jesus in supernatural ways.” 

Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colo. 

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

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