Each month this year, Amplio will be highlighting a different non-profit partner providing job preparation and job training within the refugee communities we serve. More than just words, we are committing to financially support the work of the partner we select each month and want you to join us! We will match every dollar given to the Amplio Foundation this month, up to $1000, in support of this month’s partner.
Our partner spotlight for the month of February is Gateway of Grace Ministries in Dallas, Texas. If you ask Samira Page, founder and executive director of Gateway of Grace, how it all began, she’ll share about Thanksgiving dinner 2010. She reminisces about the simplicity of “just six or seven people” around her table of different ethnicities, different backgrounds, but all with the same basic human desire—to be known and loved.
Samira grew up in Iran, a country marked by continuous war and religious conflict. She was just 15 years old when she married her first husband. He was a devout Islamic Sunni—a denomination greatly persecuted for their opposing beliefs by Islaic Shias.
When threats mounted, the family risked their lives through four feet of snow, nearly dying, to escape to Turkey. They hired smugglers to take them to Canada, but were instead taken to Mexico instead. Abandoned with no documentation, the family stayed in Mexico City for a year before being forced to flee again after being identified. They crossed the border and applied for asylum in the U.S.
In Dallas, Samira says they met many new friends who helped them and invited them to church. Their love, displayed through practical action, made her a believer, and she began to pursue God’s plan for her life.
“You have your plan but God has His ways,” she laughs, adding that she originally planned to pursue a PhD to teach. She earned her Master’s in Theology and later a doctorate in Church Missions. When she prayed about what was next in her journey, an obvious gap became clear…
“I noticed there were many, many [refugee] programs and Christian organizations, but I didn’t see anything that would systematically mobilize the church to work with refugees.”
The need birthed a vision of mobilizing one church at a time—challenging spiritual apathy; awakening them to their social responsibility, and propelling them in Christ-like action toward their fellow man. The plan was to create a holistic ministry that met the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of the refugee community, helping them assimilate to their new surroundings. They began forming refugee ministry teams who would “adopt” refugee families and begin assessing their needs while building friendships. Since then, she says the ministry has grown to over 600 volunteers.
“What I have discovered is that people in Dallas are extremely generous and big-hearted. The majority of what happens is outside the [Gateway of Grace] building,” Samira explains, pointing the credit to churches and individuals who have really taken ownership of the program. “People are taking refugees to hospital visits, appointments and connecting them to jobs. We’ve developed different ministries—education, baby showers, English as a second language, using [people’s] gifts we have through volunteers and partner churches.”
Perhaps the greatest and fastest-growing of these is their English program. They offer the program at no cost, and complete with both transportation and childcare—a big need among the refugee community, especially women.
Samira shares, “The students are mostly women. The husbands work and speak some English. Many come from cultures that are very oppressive to women, and therefore they receive little or no education. Many have never received an award of any kind– especially one for education accomplishment. It’s very important for us to serve as many as possible, but there is a huge waiting list because of childcare.”
To meet these needs, Samira says they need an additional $30,000 which would allow them to add additional space, transportation, and childcare– each area directly affects the others.
Dennis Page, Samira’s husband and Gateway’s Chief Operating Officer, chimes in, “Our reality is that we serve a lot of people… [but] we could serve literally at least twice that many. There are people five minutes outside of our radius that we can’t get to the school.”
Thanksgiving dinner looks a lot different these days, with over 400 refugees and volunteers filling the tables, but the mission remains unchanged—welcoming refugees in, and equipping and empowering them to become productive members of society.
“Without a doubt, if you interact with refugees over a short period of time you will discover that they are pretty much just like you,” Dennis shares, imploring individuals and churches to get off the “sidelines” and respond to the refugee movement.
Amplio became aware of Gateway’s incredible work in the Dallas-Fort Worth community through our Dallas Managing Director, Abby Davis.
Abby, who volunteers there with her husband regularly, now has boards where she posts job openings regularly. “We are grateful to be able to partner with Amplio and help Abby be successful at this,” Samira shares, sincerely. “What you do is an important aspect of meeting the needs of refugee families. We believe that through Amplio families are going to experience financial independence and restoration.”
At Amplio, we are proud to work alongside Gateway of Grace in serving the Dallas-Fort Worth refugee community. For the month of February, every penny donated to the Amplio Foundation will be doubled and given to Gateway to help them in their endeavor to expand their facilities and transportation, in turn opening the door for more refugees to take part in their English program.
To make a charitable donation, visit the Amplio Foundation page. Scroll down and click the Donate Now button. Fill in the amount and payment information, as well as whether you would like for it to be a one-time gift or recurring donation. Click the Give button and you’re done! Thank you for partnering with us to support the refugee workforce.