Clare and Mark's story

Clare and Mark share how they were prompted to respond to God's call as a whole family.

When we heard, through Home for Good, that there was a need for families to offer homes to refugee children, we thought about our own boys, and how we would want them to be welcomed into a home and family if they were in the same situation.

The idea wouldn't go away, so we started making enquiries about what would be involved, without committing to anything at first. We have five sons, aged between 13 and 24, so we discussed the idea with them and came to the decision together that we could offer a home to a teenage boy.

In December 2016, a 16-year-old unaccompanied asylum-seeking boy from Ethiopia arrived in our home.

He has been a wonderful addition to our family. As he's started to relax, we've discovered his amazing sense of humour. He's also very affectionate and loves a hug!

We enjoy hearing about his life in Ethiopia, as well as seeing him delight in things we take for granted - like gloves that stop his hands hurting in the cold!

Our school has welcomed him warmly, commending him for his lovely character, and he's even been able to represent the school in football and athletics.

There have been challenges too. At the start, communication was difficult because he didn't speak much English, but he has learned amazingly quickly and nowadays it's not really an issue. A challenge for him has been adjusting to a new culture and climate; we've needed to learn about his Muslim faith and living that out alongside our Christian faith.

It was a very dangerous situation that forced our boy to leave his home country, and his journey was long and traumatic, so that's hard for him to deal with sometimes, as well as the fact that everything and everyone he's ever known is a long way away.

For us as carers, it's been a challenge to work out our role and how we fit in with all the professionals involved, but there is lots of help available and we have been well supported, not least by the other families in our church who care for unaccompanied refugee children.

Friends have supported us in prayer, and sometimes with gifts and donations for our boy. Others have befriended him, taking him to football matches and other places with their families. Our church youth team have been wonderful and he enjoys their youth activities, especially camping trips and sports.

If you have a spare room, some time, some love and a sense of humour, we really encourage you to find out what's involved in offering a home to an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.

Winston Churchill said, 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give'. It's true that we've given our boy a home and some practical help, but he has enriched our family in so many ways, and whilst the future is uncertain (frustratingly, his first asylum application was refused), we will always be grateful for the time he's been with us and hope he can stay.

Read other stories from this feature:

York families respond to God's heart for young refugeesLynn and Simon's storySandra and Harry's storyJen and Paul's story

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