DC’s National Community Church Moves Past Politics to Help Syrian Refugee Families


As governments and politicians debate the Syrian refugee crisis, it’s often the church that steps in to offer practical solutions. One Washington, D.C., congregation is doing what they believe the Bible calls them to do: loving their neighbor.     

Recently, members of National Community Church gathered at Pastor Dave Schmidgall’s home to listen and learn one refugee family’s story and see what they could do to help.

The family, who are Muslim, left Syria when ISIS invaded their town and gunned down many of their neighbors. Bashir and his wife told how they buried their 16-year-old son alive for hours during the raid to protect him from being forcibly recruited to join ISIS.

Most of the church members attending the prayer and fellowship gathering on this weekday evening had never met a Syrian refugee before.

National Community Church member Michael Bloomhurst said the media gives the idea that refugees are bad people. “Watch out for them – you know, all sorts of danger. And I just know that’s not true,” he said.

Struggling to Start Over

Pastor Dave Schmidgall and his wife, Kate, met the family shortly after they arrived in the United States. They spoke no English, and to make matters worse, they were placed in Washington, D.C. – a city with one of the highest costs of living in the country.

The resettlement agency covered the family’s expenses for only three months. Bashir, once an electrician, now feels helpless.

“Bashir has said that in Syria he was very strong, he was a provider. He had a sure skill set in a profession. Here, he feels lost. He needs a lot, and I think that’s been uncomfortable for him,” Kate Schmidgall said.

Kate and Dave realized there are two major things missing in the family’s resettlement process: friendships and income. They opened their home to host this event, providing both a meal and friendship. It’s also an opportunity for church members to put a face to the crisis.

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Abigail Robertson