The Nations are Right Here
The world is on our doorstep. The nations are right here in Cedar Rapids as refugees and immigrants arrive in Cedar Rapids on a regular basis. They come with housing and personal needs, as well as the need for culture and language training. We have the opportunity to share God’s love with the world, right here in our community. That’s where Ron Rohrssen and Becky Watts come in.
“We’ve been teaching English to refugees and immigrants at Catherine McAuley Center for two years,” explained Ron. “I also enjoy teaching citizenship. English language training is generally in a one-on-one setting. This format gives me an opportunity to get to know the student and share about our family, our culture, and our faith.”
Welcoming the Stranger
Becky added, “My students are adult refugees and immigrants that have not had a lot of education. Many of the women work nights and take care of their children during the day, so their lives are a logistical challenge. But it’s worth the effort it takes to connect weekly. We believe that God wants us to welcome the stranger and be hospitable as believers. CMC gives us the opportunity to show Christ’s love by welcoming and caring for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants in the community. We believe that is a biblical mandate and part of the way that Jesus transforms the world.”
"Teaching our students is not difficult and it is so rewarding. The curriculum provided is a great base, but we both like to add to it to help our students. At times we get to be very creative, acting out certain concepts or we have to get practical and have plenty of coins on hand when we study money. They seem to enjoy finding out more about me as an individual, so sharing family photos is always fun. I also have the opportunity to tell my students about the holidays and what it means to me, how our family celebrates the holiday. This lets me ask them questions about their culture, too and provides a nice conversation. It’s a joy to share life together."
In a world that is increasingly self-centered and self-gratifying, Ron and Becky find that looking after orphans, widows and welcoming strangers is a way to show themselves to be different. A favorite verse is, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
Their work with CMC serves as a reminder that we are all created in God’s image. Ron said, “I have learned to appreciate the differences in culture and perspective that I see between my students and myself. God gives me compassion for the stranger among us, and I am currently thinking about other ways I can help refugees and immigrants.”
The Need is Great
And that’s where you come in! More people like Ron and Becky are needed. CMC has a backlog of 109 students without teachers. Ron explained, “CMC will assist you in teaching English using provided curriculum. There are even videos that you can watch on YouTube to help you see what a teaching session is like before you commit. Interested people can attend one of CMC’s monthly orientation meetings. The initial commitment is only for 10 one-hour teaching sessions. Discover for yourself the loving the nations right here in our community.”