One of The Star’s best reporters, Rick Montgmery, latched onto an excellent, running story several days ago, and the four stories he has written about the plight of a Somali family’s stop-and-start journey to resettlement in Kansas City have flowed like chapters of a book that’s hard to put down.
Montgomery has brought the readers through a range of emotions: first hope — hope that the family would be allowed to come despite President Trump’s executive order; then distress — because it looked like they might be turned back and would not get the rental home volunteers were readying for them in the Northland; and finally relief and gratification, as the family made it to Kansas City Wednesday evening and headed for their new home.
The family consists of nine members — four girls, four boys and their mother — who were temporarily stranded in Nairobi, Kenya, because of Trump’s travel ban on refugees and residents of seven Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia.
Della Lamb Community Services is sponsoring the family, and several volunteers were helping get the home ready. Some of those volunteers are members of Country Club Christian Church, which I attend and is three blocks from my home. Video from one of The Star’s stories featured volunteer Nancy Lear, who was quoted as saying she was “disgusted” at Trump’s order.
“It just blows my mind,” she said, “that people who are good people have gotten so afraid of something they shouldn’t be afraid of.”
Her words echoed a common refrain that people attending Country Club Christian have heard the last 14 years from senior pastor Glen Miles, who gave his last sermon there Sunday before heading to Columbus, Ohio, for a new post. One of Miles’ favorite subjects is the insidious nature of fear and how it is first cousin to hatred.
Clearly, fear and hatred are the entangled emotions at the root of refugee paranoia. It is ironic that the vast majority of the people fleeing their homelands because they fear for their lives and their futures are encountering reciprocal fear when they arrive — if they’re lucky to arrive — in their new countries.
The fear they are being greeted with is, in most cases, totally unwarranted. The people I saw photographed arriving at KCI last night hardly looked like “bad dudes” or “bad hombres.” They looked like average people who were glad to be someplace safe.
Greeting them were several area residents holding hand-written signs of encouragement. One sign said: “Welcome to Kansas City — You Matter.” In another photo, some of the family members were trying on brand-new winter coats that volunteers were pulling out of plastic wrapping.
It was a heart-warming sight — a sight standing in sharp contrast to the fearsome images that Trump and his narrow-minded minions are trying to plant in people’s heads.
…During the two years I have been attending Country Club Christian, I had never heard Glen Miles utter a politically tinged statement in any of his sermons. It is generally an affluent congregation, including many members from across the state line in the Johnson County suburbs, including Mission Hills. I would guess at least half the membership is Republican.
As a result, Miles always tread carefully. On Sunday, however, in his get-away sermon, he gave just an inkling of how he felt about Trump’s order.
The church, which holds about 1,000 people, was packed, and I was sitting in the front row because I didn’t want to miss a word. At one point, Miles was talking about the courage of Moses and how he went to Pharaoh and demanded, “Let my people go.” Eyes burning, Miles leaned forward in the pulpit and repeated, this time with a hard edge in his voice, “Let…my…people…go!”
And then, straightening up and preparing to take the sermon in a different direction, he glancingly and softly added, “Today he might be saying, ‘Let my people in.’ “
It took a second or two for that to register with me; it was so subtly done. But there it was…The pastor had cast Trump ignominiously in the long shadow of Moses. And it smacked of truth to me.