Northwest Bible Church has sent missionaries all over the world, but their newest ministry is aimed at serving the global audience that lives right down the road. In February, Northwest Community Center opened its doors to the Vickery Meadow community of immigrants and refugees representing 50-plus nationalities.
The center provides English classes, job-readiness training, after-school care, youth activities, a conversational café, and other services to help refugees navigate their new culture and life. A medical clinic, operated by Healing Hands Ministries, is set to open this summer.
The 15,000-square-foot facility on Pineland Drive is about a three-minute walk from an apartment complex densely populated with refugees. The center’s locale is perfect, said the church’s lead outreach minister Brian Newby.
“A lot of them walk everywhere, so proximity mattered, and space mattered to be able to facilitate relationships,” Newby said. “We eventually came across the building, and others [said]: ‘I’d rather not back up to those apartments.’ But that’s what made it the location for us.”
Northwest Bible started to prioritize working with and serving refugees in Dallas during its 60th anniversary celebrations in 2011.
“We went through a process of going, ‘Who are we now, and what does God uniquely have for us’,” Newby said. “We said as a church, we have over 65 missionary families who support 11 organizations around six continents. We’re doing a ton all over the place, but locally, this is the one thing that we call our entire church to.”
In partnership with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, members of the church’s small community groups will welcome and assist refugee families from the minute they arrive in the U.S.
Michael Ramsey’s group of Northwest Bible members received its call on a Tuesday in December. Two days later, a family of four arrived from Afghanistan around midnight at DFW Airport.
“Coming here, I don’t think they expected to be welcomed with open arms in a new country, especially in the middle of the night,” said Ramsey, a member since 2006. “I think that was really impactful. From there it really just grew into coming alongside them and treating them like friends.”
Ramsey said they helped the family get plugged into their new surroundings. The father has since secured a car, a job, and a network of resources through the community center. The wife, who spoke very little English upon arrival, has taken advantage of the English-language courses at the center, as have the two young daughters.
“Within the first month, we saw them go from grateful but stunned to have gotten here, to really feeling like this is now home and we can make it here and it’s going to be ok,” Ramsey said.