Saturday, November 6, 2010

Help! The Most Ethnically Diverse Square Mile in the World

Having just completed a project resulting in 909 blankets being hand delivered 2 short weeks ago, we are hard pressed to catch everyone up and share details about our neighbors set to benefit from this years Heavenly Harvest Hoedown.

Once again, the good Lord willing, we will prepare blankets for our Appalachian friends in West Virginia. Along with those needs, we hope to gift a global group of needy children right in our own backyard of Clarkston, Georgia.  

With over 150 different ethnic groups represented within and around the city, Clarkston has been named "the most diverse square mile in America" by the New York Times. With more than thirty language groups living there, this unique town on the east side of Atlanta has been the settling place for over fifty thousand refugees from many countries since the early 1990s. A city of high crime, high gangs, high drugs and low economic opportunity, it is a most unique place for people from around the world to settle as they enter the United States starting a new life far away from their homeland.

We all know children; perhaps in our neighborhood, our workplace, our community, or within our own family. Of these children, how many do we know who have left war-torn countries in search of freedom, suffered religious persecution, experienced famine and pestilence before the age of five, or watched with their very own eyes as their parents were killed by the Taliban government? We can find hundreds of children with just such stories living right in our own backyard, in Clarkston, Georgia, just a short 40-minute drive from Woodstock. These children are starving, not just for food, shelter, structure, and companionship, but especially for the love of Christ made evident through the tangible time and touch of people just like you and me.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took me in . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35-40, NIV).

There are 1,800 children within walking distance from the Clarkston International Bible Church, with over 30 language groups represented from countries all over the world. Stepping out of your car onto the pavement of Clarkston is equivalent to stepping from an airplane onto the dusty lands of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal Laos, Syria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Liberia, Vietnam, India, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia. Religious diversity is evident, as well, with ninety percent of the immigrant population claiming the Muslim faith. As Ron O’Kelley of the FBCW Missions staff noted, “The hand of God is evident in Clarkston.” Referring to the incredible number of immigrants here who flow through the United Nations, INS, and other relief agencies, Ron noted that, “These kids and their families are God’s gift to us right here at home. For many of the Muslim children, it is the first time for them to hear about Jesus, and to hear others say that they are a ‘Christian.’”

Fleece for the Flock looks to prepare and provide at least 1,000 hand-tied fleece blankets for our precious international neighbors in Clarkston, Georgia. These home-spun messages of hope will be personally delivered this winter with help from ministry partners in four organizations in Clarkston; Clarkston International Bible Church, Upward Basketball, Friends of Refugees and World Relief of Atlanta. All of these organizations are evangelical and serving the people who enter the United States as Refugees.

Our prayer is to have these 1,000 blankets made and completed next Saturday, November 13th.  We are still accepting donations.  No matter where you are, you bring hope to hundreds this holiday season to children from around the world, right in our own back yard. 

To make an online tax deductible contribution for this blanket project go here, then under 'Special Offering', enter

'Account #25238 - Project Code 4373',

this will direct your funds to the purchase of fleece specifically for Clarkston, Georgia.    

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him,

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:35-40

For more information on how you can be a part of the work being done in Clarkston, contact Ron O’Kelley at 678-230-9984 or at ron.o’ .

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