Do you ever worry it’s too late for you? Whatever that means. Too late to change directions. Too late to say “yes” to the invitation you think God may be offering. Too late to get involved in something new. Or are you on the other side of the spectrum and feel you are too young or don’t yet have the knowledge or wisdom age brings to take the next step?
You have heard the old adage, “Age is just a number.” We definitely know and believe that to be true, but unfortunately have seen that it can often become an excuse that stops us from taking the next steps to increase our proximity to refugees and immigrants.
Thankfully, the Women of Welcome community, a diverse group of Christian women from all ages and stages of life, provides beautiful examples of how age should never hold anyone back.
Carla, a member of our community, was in her early 50s when her views about immigration began to shift. She joined Women of Welcome even though she didn’t know a lot about immigration. As she dove into the community, she read every book recommendation and watched every video to learn more. Then Carla took the next step. She visited the border, and the experience had a significant impact on her.
She explains: “I could not unsee what I saw. When you realize these families are trying to survive, they’re fleeing violence—it changes how you see them. The media tells us these are bad people. But when you see the women and children, when you see the fathers—you realize that’s not who these people are. We have to get to know them and see them for who they really are, not who the media tells us they are.”
Carla is grateful for the doors God has opened for her and the people she has been able to meet as part of Women of Welcome. “When you take the risk to engage and help others, when you choose to be bold,” she says, “it is so rewarding and such a blessing.” Carla has attached confidence to her compassion, and she reminds us to be open to God’s invitations.
At age 58, she says, “You’re never too old to be used to by God. It’s never too late.”
Lynne’s story is another great example of how God can use you at any age. Lynne and her husband – along with their four sons – were missionaries in Africa for twenty-five years. In 2015, their children now grown, made the decision to leave Africa and return to the States. Upon moving to Nashville, they didn’t settle into retirement but instead began to connect with refugee families living in their city.
As an older adult, you have a lot of skills and knowledge to bring to the table. Throughout their time in Africa, Lynne and her husband had made many friends and loved ones, and those relationships influenced the lens through which they now viewed their neighbors in the United States.
Retirees also often have more free time and Lynee and her husband became missionaries-in-residence at a local university. They were able to take on a communal “grandparent” role among many young adults at the university as they worked together to pursue peace and welcome immigrants and refugees.
But, could someone be too young?
From what we have seen through our community, you are never too young to make an impact.
Inviting our teens and young children to love their neighbors, especially those who have different life circumstances, can help them become more empathetic to everyone in their lives.
One of our team members shared that her daughter came home with an assignment from her Civics class to write a letter to her senator about an issue that mattered to her. She asked her mom for some guidance because she wanted to write about how she thinks we should admit more refugees to the U.S.
Women of Welcome, remember your children are watching and listening. It’s never too early to talk to them about how all people are made in the image of God and how God asks us to care for others. It could be reading books together that teach about Christlike welcome. You can visit immigrant-owned restaurants and introduce new foods to your kids. Maybe you volunteer together. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference!
There are people in need showing up in communities all across the nation. “They are already our neighbors,” Lisa, who welcomed the Afghan refugees, says of the immigrants and refugees in our communities. “The question isn’t should they be here or not,” she adds, “the question is: what kind of neighbor do you want to be? One that represents Christ?” “We, as Christ-followers cannot turn a blind eye, says Lisa.”