Mike Merino

Mike is a recently retired software developer who lives with his wife and two dogs in Southwest Denver. He has been involved with the Mission for a number of years, working with three families in Family Refugee Services (FRS) and mentoring one family in Family Rescue Ministry (FRM).

What initially inspired you to get involved in helping those in FRS and FRM?

I served overseas for seven years in Cyprus as a cross-cultural missionary. During that time, I traveled in the Middle East, and everywhere I went I was treated with extreme hospitality and patience. It is something I now try to cultivate in my own life and in my dealings with others. So, when my church offered to help settle refugees alongside Denver Rescue Mission and Lutheran Family Services, I was very excited to get involved in that.

What are some of the things you do to help the families?

As a mentor for an FRM family, I helped them with things like setting a budget and setting goals. As a team member through my church, I worked with two Somali families 20 years ago and then recently came back and helped an Afghan family, all through FRS. The most recent family is a family of nine, and I met them at the airport, took them to an Airbnb, found them a house, helped them move in, and am now helping them get their children in school and helping the men find jobs. We also usually get together once a week or so to do social activities like go to a concert or go out to eat.

What has it meant to you personally to get to connect with these families?

I really enjoy cross-cultural interaction and I’ve chosen to spend a fair amount of time with the Mission because of the people I’ve seen and the results I’ve seen them get. For example, the Afghan family has been very, very kind toward me—very grateful, very hospitable. And to see them come here, very excited about the American dream, and to be able to show them, in Jesus’s name, an opening into that dream, is very gratifying.

What would you say to encourage others to help the families in these programs?

In the Bible, Ruth was a refugee. When she came to Israel, she said she wanted to follow the God of Israel and come into that culture. I would tell others that you have a chance to do that—to welcome people to America and to be Jesus to people who have definite needs. These are wonderful people and I have really gained a lot from being with them. To me, the church of Jesus Christ is multicultural, so if I can help move us all more towards that, that excites me.

This post is part of March’s Changing Lives Newsletter. This month, we’re telling Melody’s story of finding a forever home for her family.