Welcoming Strangers with Open Arms

I’m lucky to be married to Tari on numerous fronts. Among them are invitations to unique events around town that she receives by virtue of her work. Last week we attended the very first “Amplify Nashville” awards program sponsored by Siloam Health. Amplify Nashville seeks to shine a light on the contributions our growing immigrant population is making in Nashville.

We heard from Kasar Abdulla, a community catalyst from Kurdistan in Iraq. Nashville is home to the largest population of Kurds outside of Iraq. Kasar and her family were forced to leave her home when she was only 6 years old and lived for four years in a Turkish refugee camp. Since coming to America and landing here in Nashville, Kasar has been a tireless advocate for immigrants—especially the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. She was the founder of Welcoming Tennessee Initiative. Currently, she serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the Valor Collegiate Academies.

Fabian Bedne was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the first Latino Metro Council member—a position he has held for 6 years. Fabian is an architect by training and spent many years as an urban planner in his home country. He came to Ohio in 1990 as part of a vocational exchange program and then to Nashville in 1997. He is a founding member of Organicus Design LLC and currently serves as the Associate Director of the Hispanic Family Foundation. Fabian is a passionate proponent of affordable housing, neighborhood development, and increased access to education.

As we celebrate our nation’s independence this week, it is good for us to take a step back and look at who we are—from 30,000 feet. We are a mixed bag and always have been. Our diverse culture is our genius. Our diversity is what truly makes America Great.

I am proud to be an American citizen. I am even more proud to be a Christian believer living in America. The Jesus revealed in the pages of the New Testament was one who welcomed strangers with open arms. I believe we should do the same.