Refuge: Stories of the Displaced | Nations


12th June 2024

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Refuge: Stories of the Displaced

Editor’s note: Last week we shared excerpts  from our Vol. 3 interview with Eric and Lisa So, who moved their family from the Maryland suburbs to a refugee housing community.

At Nations, we seek not only to spotlight and advocate for reformers, but to create opportunities for partnership. Our goal is for our readers, creative advocates, and reformers to link arms as they work together to “seek peace and pursue it.” This kind of partnership was born after Caleb Paxton, one of our creative advocates, interviewed the So family for Volume 3. Caleb edits a community journal called

Liberatus, whose mission is to bring truth and beauty to American politics from the inside. Now, Liberatus has partnered with Eric and Lisa to create a new journal series on refugees. This journal series is called Refuge.

Caleb told us,

“Before Nations asked me to interview Eric and Lisa, I was following pieces in The New York Times about communities in Canada welcoming and assisting refugees as they adapt to day-to-day life in the West. In December 2016, after reading these stories, I felt compelled to create a Liberatus journal series focused on shifting the paradigm regarding how we communicate about refugee policy. If Canada could seemingly welcome Syrians and other refugees into their homes and schools whole-heartedly, why couldn’t the U.S.?

My first thought was to take a crew of writers to Canada and learn from these communities. But I was uncertain of the necessity of taking a trip to Toronto and Calgary when surely someone was doing the same work in the DC area. Within a few days, Nations asked if I could interview Eric for Volume 3.

Photo by: Chadwick & Jenika Gantes

Once we connected in person and finished the interview, the natural next step was to talk with Eric about partnering to create a journal series on refugees, connecting writers who work in politics with their community. In February we agreed to move forward with the series and to partner with the church he is planting, Peace City Church.”

Eric says,

“The vision for Peace City Church is: Family for strangers. Refuge for the broken. Peace for our city. The church will be a diverse family of Jesus followers that powerfully and beautifully illustrates true peace to our city. A family made up young, old, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, families from many nations—all united, worshiping, and proclaiming Christ.”

Photo by: Chadwick & Jenika Gantes

Nations: What is Refuge and what will it do?

Caleb: Refuge is a Liberatus journal series exploring how we welcome refugees. We plan to focus on healing in political communication by focusing on the refugee crisis. First, we will connect our writers with the Riverdale community over several months to learn their stories. I’m confident just listening to people who have come here for refuge will change our perspectives.

Second, we will advocate for refugees through the journal series. As they are willing, we hope to share their journeys with our readers and show how our well-being is tied to theirs. We also hope to meet with stakeholders, from Legislative Aides on Capitol Hill to refugee agencies. There are people coming from all over the world in Eric and Lisa’s community: connecting our face-to-face encounters with policy ideals is a monumental opportunity. To reach our target audience, we will promote the series by giving out promotional cards to all House and Senate offices.

Third, we will give ten percent of our $20,000 goal to Peace City Church for needs within the community. Because of what our donors have given so far, we have already been able to make a gift of $500. One of Eric’s neighbors is a genocide survivor from Sudan, and these funds are helping him work through past trauma, update and renew legal documents associated with living in the U.S., and ultimately get his life back on track. Additional funds will help with similar needs and cover the cost of a community health fair.

Photo by: Chadwick & Jenika Gantes

Nations: How can our readers support Refuge and your work with refugees?

Caleb: Most importantly, we need supporters who recognize that creating Refuge is a God story, not a Liberatus story. I’m reading Romans 4 in The Message almost every morning right now; we need partners who recognize that cultural healing is “something only God can do, and [who] trust him to do it.” Our culture’s focus on hard work and hustle makes it very easy to forget this. We can pray that God will align our hearts with his, and we can show up, give financially, and be ready to write, but we desperately need a power bigger than us for the peace of Christ to be established in Washington and Riverdale and communities destroyed by violence across the world.

Readers can join us by contributing financially to Liberatus. We’re a nonprofit organization, and while all donations are helpful, we are working on growing our base of monthly support. Setting up a recurring donation of $25 or more will give us the long-term stability to build community and create Refuge. Any new donations this year will be put towards creating Refuge.

Our monthly donors will receive one of the promotional cards we distribute on Capitol Hill and a monthly inside-look at how we are implementing our core values of contemplation, community, and creativity.

To support Refuge, visit Liberatus. To learn more about Peace City Church, visit their website.

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Caleb Paxton

Caleb Paxton

Caleb Paxton is the founder of Liberatus, a nonprofit with a mission to create a culture of American unity for the next generation by producing content, experiences, and leaders that inspire it today. From November 2 through the end of 2021, the Liberatus team is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to print Liberatus Volume One, a 200+ page graphic editorial filled with stories that elevate the human experience and blend congressional-level research with contemplative spirituality, beautiful photography, and good design. Its theme is Refuge: advocating for refugees the displaced, and marginalized. To get your copy, back it on Indiegogo.