In April 2011, Pastor Bruce Davis and his congregation at Messiah Lutheran Church in Newtown Square, PA, sponsored an Iraqi family who arrived in America as refugees through Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS).

Nael Ilias left Iraq with his wife Shadah Hermiz and daughters Dyana and Tara Adbullah because he feared for his family’s safety. They fled to Turkey, but were not welcome there because they were Christian.

“Lutherans have been resettling refugees since the 1800’s, including many of our ancestors,” Pastor Davis said. “Of course there were concerns, but you don’t need a whole congregation, you just need a committed group.”

Pastor Davis and volunteers from the congregation helped the family to find housing, provided them with transportation, helped them through the immigration process, and donated furniture for their apartment.

“It doesn’t take a huge investment of time, and the families are so grateful,” Pastor Bruce said. “The need is huge.”

Nael is working in dining services at a local nursing home and the girls are doing very well in high school and looking toward college. “They have the same American dream as everyone else,” Pastor Bruce said. “They’ll do whatever it takes.”

“The gratitude of the family is amazing,” said Pastor Bruce. “You’re family to them.”

The family also decided to become members of Messiah Lutheran Church. “They’ve been a wonderful addition to our congregation and I think our congregation is proud to have accomplished this,” said Pastor Bruce.