Cassie Henley Story
Every Wednesday, my five kids and I eat breakfast, finish a quick homeschool lesson and load up the car with crayons and playdoh and stickers and sensory box supplies and head a few miles down the road to Vickery Meadow. We say hello to the eager faces already playing at Refugee Resources and prepare the tables with activities and art supplies as we wait for the rest of our preschoolers to arrive. As each child walks in the door, we greet them by name and give hugs and high-fives to those awake enough to know where they are. We spend our time together playing and moving, scooping and pouring, coloring and painting, singing and reading. We leave exhausted but completely overwhelmed with joy. These 17 preschoolers have become some of our dearest friends and we can’t imagine not knowing them and loving them. But...
A year ago, if you had asked me if I would ever serve within the refugee community, I probably would have given you my default list of reasons as to why my answer would be no: 1) I homeschool all five of my kids (FIVE kids!), 2) I already serve within my church, 3) I don’t think I can commit to something weekly, 4) I don’t know anything about the refugee community. The truth, however, was that I was too scared of the unknown to say yes.
Like many reading this, I had heard about the refugee crisis for years but didn’t understand enough to be comfortable serving them. I knew there were needs within the refugee community but couldn’t see how I had anything to offer that would be of help. To be completely honest, I was okay letting it be someone else’s problem to solve. But…
The Lord, as He does, had other things for me. Last year, I was convicted that I needed to come alongside Alysa and help her in any way I could as she relaunched Refugee Resources. My kids and I began serving in the office once a week, helping with filing and paperwork. One Thursday as we were serving, Alysa brought up a desire for a preschool program. Preschool had always been my passion and my “sweet spot” so my heart perked up at the idea of getting to teach little ones. One conversation led to dreaming, dreaming led to planning and in August 2018, we officially launched the Preschool Circle.
The Preschool Circle is certainly a work in progress but it is also the most beautiful way to spend a Wednesday morning. Throughout our week, my kids and I tell stories about our students, laugh as we remember funny things said or done each week, celebrate ways we have already seen them grow and flourish and most importantly, recount the goodness of the Lord to ALL of His people.
Serving in the Preschool Circle has left us completely different. Each week we serve, we are more in love with the refugee community, more expectant of what God has for our family, and more eager to be a part of His work and love for every tribe, tongue and nation.
We may not always finish our homeschool lessons, Preschool Circle may not always go as planned, and my kids certainly don’t always have the best attitudes, but I have found that nothing can compare to the joy of loving, teaching and being loved by the sweetest group of three-year-olds and four-year-olds.
As I think about the changes I have seen in my children and in my own heart since serving with Preschool Circle, I realize that none of the sweetness and none of the joy would have been possible if we had stayed on the sidelines. Just tonight, I paused writing this blog because I heard two of my sons talking upstairs. I went up to see what they were talking about and they said, “We were just saying how neat it is that in America there are so many different languages. We know people from Mexico who speak Spanish and now we know people from all different countries who are refugees and speak all different languages…” And my heart almost burst into a million pieces. Those who were once strangers have now become friends and my kids and I have a clearer picture of the Kingdom of God because of it.