COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A family is seeking asylum at a local church to escape possible death in their home country.
Just North United Church of Christ has taken in a family of four from Honduras.
Just North is helping the family — Maria, Juan and their two children, ages two and two weeks — with legal fees, application fees, and more.
Church officials said the family had nowhere else to go and that the church is serving as the family’s home for now.
“Maria and Juan were forced to flee everything they had built,” said . “Everything they loved, suddenly, in the middle of the night.”
The church and family have chosen to use pseudonyms for reasons of the family’s safety and privacy.
“This family is a family of human beings who just want what everyone wants, a safe place to be,” said Dawn Leach, team leader with Immigration and Justice. “A safe place to raise their kids.”
The family said they walked for more than 90 days from Honduras to Mexico, waiting months to cross the border through a legal port of entry. Soon after arriving in the U.S., Maria gave birth. Just 48 hours later, they were loaded onto a Greyhound bus and when they reached Columbus, they had nowhere to turn.
“They are delightful,” Leach said. “Two parents who absolutely love their children very tenderly. They’re enjoyable to be with. Each has a great sense of humor, but dad is quiet.”
The family is seeking legal asylum and looking for help for counsel, application fees, and living expenses until Juan and Maria can receive legal work permits.
“The family has a whole lot of needs, a whole lot of good,” said senior pastor Eric Williams. “It provides us with a whole lot of motivation to do good, to do good in the name of our Lord.”
Williams and other leaders said they’ve worked behind the scenes for months to help the family get to this point.
“That’s our faith,” Williams said. “Our faith compels us to offer radical hospitality. That code of hospitality that we read in the Bible.”
Church leaders said the family is in the United States legally and are free to come and go as they please. Right now, though, they said the family needs the church’s safety and support.
“The feel spoiled, they tell us,” Leach said. “They feel overwhelmed by generosity. They’re doing very well.”
So how does it feel to help a family in need?
“It feels good. It’s incredibly rewarding,” Leach said.
“They’re doing very well,” Williams said. “Every day you see the baby grow bigger and hear her more. The mother is doing well. She’s recovering from the birth process.”
At this moment, church leaders aren’t sure exactly how long the family will stay, but they said the family can stay as long as they need to.