After a long couple months of limited interactions, the leadership at the North Site in Phoenix decided they wanted to try getting people together. Our students had been particularly conservative concerning the quarantine, and many of them hadn’t left their homes in months. A picnic seemed like the perfect virus-proof solution — everyone would bring their own food and be able to spread out in an open-air environment.

So, with hope in their hearts, the staff members went about asking people to come. In refugee ministry, an answer of “maybe” usually means “no, I won’t be there,” and the maybes were rolling in. However, when the day for the picnic rolled around, family after family began pulling into the park!

Everyone spread out on blankets with various snacks and foods and, though apprehensive at first, everyone quickly relaxed into conversations while the kids started playing soccer. It was in these different pods of people that the GoTEN staff and volunteers began catching up with everyone and, in some cases, building new relationships! There was talk of coronavirus, dogs, housing, jobs, and Bible stories. In one group, a volunteer and the father of a family discussed the attributes and nature of God. In another, a couple GoTEN staff tag-teamed the Jonah story to an entire Muslim family.

By the end of the night, everyone had laughed and had fun, and most had made a new friend. Everyone agreed it was such a good way to see each other, and that it would even better if we did it again with tea and grilling. It was a total success in sharing the love of Christ and building relationships that will hopefully lead to lives transformed by Christ.