We love to hear stories of families who have arrived in the UK and have been welcomed by their local church. That is the reason Welcome Churches exists, to ensure that no one feels alone when they arrive in a new country. Today we get to hear this encouraging story from one of our Welcome Network churches, City Church Cardiff on their journey of welcoming a family from Hong Kong. This story is written by Pastor David Parfitt, who was privileged to be the one to welcome the family from the airport.
A friend and I from church drove up in two cars from South Wales to collect a family of four and their luggage from Heathrow Airport. Not just a few bags for a long holiday, but chosen and carefully packed possessions for the rest of their life! It was a humorous beginning: as the mum was speaking to us on the phone and looking out of the concourse window towards the car park, we walked up behind them still speaking on the phone. “Where are you now?” she asked, “turn around,” I said, as we stood two meters away. We all laughed. Here began a very special friendship. Driving to Wales we began sharing stories of culture, family, food, and climate.
We had made contact a few months earlier via email and as a church, we had committed to bless and help in any way we could. Their emails had spoken of hope for the future, and a faith that God would help them, but they also had some trepidation. We had offered some advice on areas to rent in, with access to shops, doctors, universities, etc. They could use this to support their decision in booking a short-term place, which they did and booked in advance. The big omission in the rental place was that there was no cooker, but we soon found one the next day. We gave the family several tours around the city, our first stop was Cardiff Bay and they fell in love with it. Cardiff is a city on a large estuary, so perhaps one similarity to Hong Kong is that it is a city next to the water. We went looking at areas they might like to rent in long-term and shared funny stories of the benefits of living in apartments or houses, especially if you like playing musical instruments! Eventually, the family found an apartment which they rented for six months and have now bought an apartment of their own, in Cardiff Bay.
We offered time and the opportunity for them to meet new people. There were lots of questions and we were privileged to help the family start settling, enjoy living with new freedom, and in turn a new sense of peace. They met a man who was a great cook, loved Oriental food and he took them to a specialist supermarket in Birmingham for a unique shopping trip. The family’s UK experience soon became a great gift to share. They have now befriended other people who have more recently moved from Hong Kong. They have been able to answer questions, give local area tours, and recommend the best places to source familiar food.
When we first communicated via email, we shared the words of Psalm 23:1 ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’. Almost a year after they arrived, the mum reminded me of this. She said how the Lord Jesus had indeed provided and they had never lacked anything. They will always be so grateful.