By Dawn Pearson
In the six years since Sam Howard found his calling, establishing The Gathering in Carmel, his congregation is making a difference in the lives of refugees from many different nations.
Howard said he wanted The Gathering in Carmel to be a safe place for people who are drawn to God but perhaps have a hard time with some of the more traditional expressions of church. He described The Gathering as more of a living room environment than a performance hall.
“It was also our desire for our community, the First World, to be a blessing to the Third World. This desire led us to the Congolese community,” he said.
The hard work paid off for Howard’s non-denominational church when it received the 2017 Community Partner of the Year honor from Exodus Refugee Immigration.
“We were very honored and surprised, because we are a small church, and I know that other Exodus partners are much bigger organizations than us,” said Kim Howard, Sam’s wife.
When The Gathering launched, the Howards wanted to become involved in the community and partner with nonprofits.
Exodus Refugee Immigration places refugees in the Indianapolis area, helping them get established. The Congolese community receives the most help from The Gathering.
“It really appealed to me. When I read about Exodus I felt very drawn to it, and knew it was what we should do,” Kim Howard said. “These people have been pulled from their homes and need help with the new culture and finding a new home in Indianapolis.”
The Howards welcomed three boys and have made them a part of their family.
“The past three years they have graduated from Carmel High School, gotten married and are part of our community and our lives,” she said. “When we first met them we knew they needed a family. We started out meeting three sisters and a baby, and it exploded from there and into our new family.”
According to Exodus’s website, exodusrefugee.org, “Indiana is ranked 17th in the U.S., admitting 1,893 (refugees) in 2016, over 2 percent of the national total.”
“These wonderful people, refugees, have become our friends, and they’ve become our family and involved in each other’s lives,” Kim Howard said. “They have given us much more than we’ve given them. We are very blessed having them in our lives.”
For more on The Gathering, visit gatheringincarmel.com.