Hanna Jonsson

I wish I could say I had a heart for the refugee community ever since moving to Dallas a few years ago. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Though outwardly I would verbally affirm the importance of being involved and helping in the refugee community, inwardly my heart was callous and cold. I talked the talk, but never walked the walk. I made assumptions without first seeking to understand. Subsequently, I wasn’t ready to walk through to the doors the Lord had opened.

About a year ago, I met a lady who lived in Vickery. Within knowing her a grand total of 5 minutes she was inviting me into her home, making me food, and sharing her story with me. I had never experienced anything like that before. Her hospitality and love were radical. I realized that these refugees are more than the name given to them. They weren’t my assumptions. They are people with faces, stories, feelings and souls. The Lord changed my callous heart and opened my eyes to His love and plan for this community— to make His name known among the nations.

Soon after, I walked through the doors of Reading Circle. I was greeted with big smiles and lots of energy. It was there that I met BuMeh for the first time. 

BuMeh is a sweet 10 year old girl who has quickly become my best buddy. She is more reserved and is sometimes a tough cookie when it comes to cracking a smile. But goodness—when she does smile— it lights up the room. She loves to draw and be creative and is always working on projects and crafts. I look forward to seeing her on Tuesday nights where I’m greeted with our special handshake, and swap stories about our week. She is a fast learner and continues to amaze me week in and week out by how much growth she displays in her vocabulary as well as reading!

Amongst the many fun memories we have together, from baking cupcakes to swimming, a sweet time that stands out to me was a Tuesday night when BuMeh was taking a reading test. She was so nervous of not doing well and being a failure. It was such a sweet moment where I was able to remind her that my love for her, and more importantly God’s love for her, is not based on performance. Despite what happened on the test she is still loved and cherished deeply. We would still be friends, still hang out, and yes, still go swimming! When she heard that, the anxiety left her face and she said, “Thank you for making me feel better Miss Hanna”. 

Reading Circle is more than just reading. It’s about building relationships with students like BuMeh and taking captive every moment to share the radical love of Christ. Reading Circle is an open door in the community the Lord is using to make His name known and bring many to Himself! 

Alysa Marx