First Presbyterian Church — Columbus, Indiana

Felipe Martínez, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Indiana, shares how the Spirit is moving in their congregation.

Welcoming an Afghan family at the Indianapolis airport. Photo submitted.

In the summer of 2021, we heard that thousands of Afghan families were going to be living temporarily at Camp Atterbury, an Indiana National Guard facility just a few miles from our church. We had all been watching the news reports from Afghanistan with concern, but we never imagined that distant news would become local news. Eventually, about 7,200 Afghans were relocated to Camp Atterbury, and an interfaith effort ramped up to collect items for our new neighbors (formula, diapers, shoes, menstrual pads, winter coats, prayer rugs, etc.). First Presbyterian Church collected items, but it also felt a call from God to resettle an Afghan family in Columbus. However, the initial resettlement agency we contacted said they would not let us resettle only one family in our small community (45,000 people) being so far away from their offices in Indianapolis. That’s when the Holy Spirit opened hearts and doors all over the community. The result is that a total of five Christian congregations and the local mosque partnered with Church World Service and Catholic Charities and with about one hundred volunteers to help resettle four families with at least one more spouse and one more family set to come. It has been a challenging and rewarding community-building effort!