Rev. John Frerking’s interest in refugee resettlement first began when his home church, Ascension Lutheran in Charlotte, NC, sponsored a family from Estonia. He was fascinated by this family’s story and how dramatically different it was from his own.
While watching the fall of Saigon on 1975, he relived this past experience as he watched news reports showing terrified people trying to escape. It was at this point that he decided he needed to do something so he called Lutheran Services – Florida, our partner, and began the process to sponsor a family.
As pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in North Palm Beach, FL, the congregation rallied and the first family was successfully resettled. This began a 30-year history of resettling families for this parish.
One of Rev. Frerking’s treasured resettlement stories involved a family from Vietnam. The father and his three sons were assigned to his congregation for resettlement. The wife and their daughters were believed to have been lost at sea on the long journey to the US. Later it was discovered that everyone was alive and in the US. Rev. Frerking and his congregation witnessed the joy of reuniting this family.
Rev. Frerking also comforted a young family from Vietnam with two small children when the mother died of leukemia shortly after arriving in the US. The mother’s highest hope for her children was for them to graduate from college. What a joy it is for Rev. Frerking to have been able to provide her children with assistance to see their mother’s dying wish come true!
We are grateful for Rev. Frerking’s years of service as a board member and we thank him for witnessing God’s love for all people through his years of welcoming and encouraging refugees and immigrants.