After suffering immense persecution in your homeland, fearing for your life and the life of your children day in and day out, waiting for years in an overcrowded and disease ridden refugee camp, you finally arrive at your new home in the United States.
Any sense of security is short lived, however. Within moments of arriving you encounter a new kind of fear. Virtually everything overwhelms your senses–the new and unfamiliar language flooding your ears, the bone-chilling cold that seems to engulf you, the strange smells, the bizarre customs…
The challenges of learning an entirely new life, land, and language, are further amplified by the debilitating effects of grief and trauma.
Although you have spent many fearful years under the rule of an oppressive regime, you must now learn to trust and navigate an entirely new and unfamiliar government system in order to survive. Even as you turn to those who offer assistance, you encounter new obstacles: judgment from those unfamiliar with your culture or plight, irreparable harm done by well-meaning, but ill-equipped volunteers, uninvested “advocates” who take advantage of your vulnerable position–the barriers to justice are seemingly endless… Where can you turn for help?
In 2013, while serving and working with North Side refugees, a local pastor recognized the great need for legal aid within the community.
Very few organizations were offering the kind of specialized work that they needed and many of law firms that did, were inaccessibly expensive. By God’s perfect design, a small and dedicated legal team began the hard work of building an organization that could provide high quality legal services at a very low cost.
The Christian Immigration Advocacy Center is a legal center, but at its heart, CIAC is about being the hands and feet of Jesus.Barriers such as language, mental trauma-related injury or illness, stress disorders, general distrust of government, lack of familiarity with our court system, and a host of other issues create a gap between our community’s… Click To Tweet
It’s about meeting the real and tangible needs of our clients. Legal matters are a heavy burden for almost anyone to bear. For low-income immigrants and refugees, the challenges can seem virtually insurmountable. Barriers such as language, mental trauma-related injury or illness, stress disorders, general distrust of government, lack of familiarity with our court system, and a host of other issues create a gap between our community’s immigrant population and their ability to navigate the complex legal pathways necessary to obtain citizenship and other critical services. We want to stand in that gap.
As lawyers, we want to provide a necessary service at affordable rates. As followers of Christ, we want to touch the lives of those in our community who are too often regarded as “less than.” We want to play a part in breaking through the misconceptions and reshaping the way many immigrants view Christ and the Church. We want to listen to, serve, and love them so that, ultimately, by meeting their immediate legal needs, we can earn the privilege of speaking to them about their eternal need for Jesus.
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. -Matthew 25:35
Christian Immigrant Advocacy Center – If you would like to learn more about the work we do and how you can support refugees, visit our website at www.ciacpgh.org or call us at 412-532-6181.
To learn more about refugees and ways to get involved with loving your neighbors, check out our archives for previous blog posts!