Immigrant Epistle

A few months ago I presented my refugee story at a church. The members asked how they could help and one of my suggestions was that they write letters to young immigrants. I didn’t expect them to do any of what I recommended but was pleasantly surprised when they called me back to lead a letter writing session. On the designated evening, we read and discussed 2013 Liberian Awards Honoree, Dr. Robtel Pailey’s story and the stories other immigrants. We answered questions, without judging. We were honest about our limitations. Then we sat quietly, took our pens, and wrote on paper with Second Presbyterian Church letterhead.

Later, I read the letters and cried. I couldn’t help but think how my 13-year-old refugee self would have felt to see those words or to know that busy and successful professionals would care enough to write those words to a stranger. Each time I read these letters and remember the faces of the writers, I remember that amidst the darkness of hate is the light of love.

These letters were written for immigrants, by white Christians, but they apply to anyone who has been made to feel like you’re less than…


Dear Friend:

A group of parents, grandparents, professionals, and pastors decided to write and encourage you through this season of hate and division. We invested time to hear the stories of people like you –strong people pressured by breaking circumstances. We hope our letters will serve to counter some of the negative reception you face. Know that they were written from the hearts of people moved by an unconditional love, prompted to welcome the “stranger” in that same Christian love.

In peace,



S (African female 34 yo).

A grandmother who admires you and wishes you well.

Female. Age 70. White.

Your friend in Carlisle PA.


Dear Friend,

I do not know your precise circumstances, but I pray that you are able to sustain yourself through the trials and difficulties you are facing. Above all, I pray that you can maintain hope for your future. Please know that even when you feel alone and the days are bleak, we are praying for you…that you will have “a hope and a future.”
His Peace to you,


Dear Friend,

I am on your side even though I don’t know you or what you face every day. I do know that you are an amazing person who is facing a long list of unfulfilled needs and wants. I know many people look at you and believe that you are somehow like others who have come here without documentation—not a legal human, not worthy, not…not…not. Don’t believe them! Believe in yourself. In your hopes and dreams and know that slowly but surely your intelligence and strength will make you a hero.

Know that God loves you and know that God’s people love you. Keep up the good work you are doing.

Age 70


Dear Friend,

I understand that you are here in America in school facing great uncertainty about how long you will be able to stay—what you can do—how you will be able to achieve your goal—where you can turn for help—so many questions that really matter!

I wish I could meet you and get to talk with you! I admire your persistence in pursing your goals in spite of set-backs and perhaps loneliness. I don’t know you, but I pray that God will be with you to guide and strengthen you. Trust in Him to open doors even if some are shut.Trust in Him to open doors even if some are shut.

In love in Christ,
A grandmother who admires you and wishes you the best!


Dear Friend,

I am writing to say welcome to the United States. Many U.S. citizens are concerned about those immigrants who feel invisible. I am praying for you and your community. The immigrants I know are hardworking descent people. I pray you find a way to fulfill your dreams. May God watch over you.

In Christian Love.


Dear Friend,

This letter is sent with words of encouragement and [the] spirit of God to a difficult situation.

Your condition that surrounds you may feel insurmountable. You may feel no one understand you. You are confused, culturally as well as generationally. Sometimes we just need to focus on [the] end we wish to accomplish. If it is a meal shared with love [sic] ones or an education to bring skills to [a] family unit.

It may sound like just words when sometimes there is no hope, or seems like it. Remember there is an almighty one who has a watchful eye on you and cares for you.

May you succeed.
Your friend in Carlisle PA


Dear Friend,

I heard about you and wanted to let you know I am praying for you. You don’t know me but I am a Christian American citizen. I know there is so much you are going through that causes you pain, unwelcomeness. I want you to feel welcome. I want you to know that someone cares about you. I want you to know there are many Americans who care about you. It is difficult for you now but trust that life can get better. It is hard to feel no one cares or understands. While I am not in your shoes, I do understand some of what you are going through. Hold on to hope.

In my faith Jesus and his family were refugees at one time, so therefore all of us should care about refugees. I believe God can give you strength to get through this difficult time. You are a person of great value in God’s sight. We all have talents to use and develop. I pray you will be able to become the person God created you to be.

In peace and love,