As Kimberly Green of Bowling Green speaks about baptism to several dozen refugees gathered at Greenwood Park Church of Christ, she pauses occasionally so her lesson can be translated into languages including Karenni and Burmese, or so she can field a question in Spanish.
"If you are ready, the best time to be baptized is now because we don't know about tomorrow, but we know what's happening at this moment," she tells the multicultural group Sunday.
Language barriers sometimes make it challenging to communicate with participants in the church's refugee ministry, which Green and her husband, Kimball Green, have coordinated for about a year and a half.
"They may not always understand what you say, but they will understand what they see," Kimberly Green said. "They see that this is a Christian and they're helping."
The Greens lead the international ministry program each Sunday at the church, but throughout the week, they are out in the community showing refugees what services are available to them and helping them with everyday tasks, so they can ultimately achieve independence.
"It's beyond this building," Kimberly Green said. "It reaches out. It seeps out in every aspect of the community."
Kimball Green sees the ministry as fulfilling God's mission to embrace the broken world.
"So often, we go to foreign countries for mission trips, but we have a mission trip right here in Bowling Green every day," he said.
Me Meh, 21, who was born in Burma and grew up in Thailand, has lived in Bowling Green for three years, where she is a senior at Warren Central High School. On Sunday, she translated Kimberly Green's lesson into Karenni and Burmese. She has already been baptized, but she enjoys using her language skills to introduce others to her faith.
"I like to help them because they want to know about God and Christians," she said. "I like it because (the) teachers help us and give us the opportunity to pray in our language and have a class in our language. They also make friends with us."
Members of Hilltoppers for Christ, Greenwood Park's student ministry on Western Kentucky University's campus, also are reaching out to refugees at the church. Each Wednesday, they work with the Hamisi family, African refugees who are members of Greenwood Park and have children ranging from newborn to eighth grade. The college students bring the Hamisi children to the Hilltoppers for Christ house on Chestnut Street every week, praying with them and helping them with reading, math and other school work before taking them to Greenwood Park's Wednesday night service.
LaTasha Daugherty, 22, a WKU senior from Ohio County, is inspired by the Hamisi children.
"I never thought I'd look up to kids as young as them," she said. "Every day they come in and they're full of excitement, full of joy. It's just inspiring to be a part of their lives. It definitely gives you something to look forward to in the week."
Leading the outreach program also offers Daugherty good experience for her career goal of working at an inner-city nonprofit organization.
"It's really nice because we've built relationships with them," she said. "It's really not about the homework help. It's about creating a mentorship with them."
Mmunga Hamisi, 11, a fifth-grader at Dishman-McGinnis Elementary, had never learned to read in his native Swahili, so it was hard at first to try reading in English, but the Hilltoppers for Christ students have really helped him, he said.
"I learned how to read, and I learned how to do math," he said. "They helped me sound out words, and I started getting it."
The college students do more than tutor the children. They also visit the family's apartment and try to provide them with any household items they need.
"It's kind of like our adopted little family," Daugherty said. "They're like my little brothers and sisters."