"He’s My Brother"

by Elyse Herrera, Digital Communications Intern

When Thomas Steiner and Raheem Abbas met two years ago, neither could have anticipated the profound impact they would have on each other’s lives today.

Thomas was assigned to be Raheem’s volunteer by World Relief shortly after Raheem arrived from Iraq, and what started as a refugee/volunteer relationship quickly turned into a brotherhood. They were “fast friends,” Thomas describes. After introducing Raheem to a member of his church, referring to Raheem as his friend, Thomas says, “Raheem corrected me and said, ‘no, he’s my brother.’’ Having grown up with five sisters, Raheem described joyfully, “now I really have a brother.”

The brothers bonded over now-shared faith. Thomas, visibly impressed by Raheem, said “in a country where I didn’t understand the language, I don’t know that I would have stuck to it.” As he walks beside Raheem through his experiences as a refugee and a Christian, Thomas says that he is “just doing what my parents taught me: to treat others the way you want to be treated.” Raheem’s deep respect for Thomas’ faith is evident. Raheem described, “some people cry and speak for God, but don’t do anything good, but this guy, I love this guy because he has a good heart.” 

Their involvement with church is very important to Raheem and Thomas, and their faith has helped them to overcome many of their differences. At the beginning of their friendship, Raheem and Thomas often met over tea or soup, and together they discussed their countries of origin. “We had been told lies,” Thomas said. Through television and media, both the American and Iraqi people were being “portrayed poorly” in the other nation, they said. Thomas described that sometime before Raheem and he met, his “heart towards people from different nations was totally different,” and that God prepared him by turning his heart toward people from Iraq. Thomas reflected, “God has worked in my heart and in Raheem’s” amidst their differences.

Raheem serves in City Church regularly, and he and Thomas attend the church’s men’s group. The two are looking forward to the summer months, camping together and continuing to enjoy life with one another as brothers.

In the last few years, World Relief has welcomed many refugees like Raheem, people who would love to have an American brother or sister. If you are not volunteering with World Relief already, please consider signing up to be a refugee's American friend. Learn more here.

If you already volunteer with World Relief, we are so grateful for your service. As a way to express our thanks, we are hosting a movie day for you, your family, and your refugee friends on April 27th from 2 to 4 p.m. Learn more and RSVP by clicking here.