Karen Morrow: Welcoming refugees by loving their children

Karen Morrow, with a child in the Hope Library

Karen Morrow, with a child in the Hope Library

By Marv Knox

Late Monday mornings, the foyer of Kingdom Manifesters International Ministries
sounds like the United Nations. Children from all over—all over the world, not just all over their
neighborhood—stream into the building.

They laugh and talk, and many carry books. Most stop in the middle of the room to
greet a smiling woman whose love they’re learning to count on, even as they learn to speak and
read English.

They’re on their way to Hope Library, tucked into a corner of the building. It’s the
newest ministry sponsored by Karen Morrow, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionary in
Fort Worth, Texas—the woman who dispenses hugs to the children, as well as to many of their

They’re international refugees legally resettled by the U.S. government. Although they
arrived from many nations, mostly in the Middle East, western Asia and Africa, a common
denominator is violence. They fled civil war, or ethnic and religious persecution, or all of the

“It was no longer safe to live in their countries,” Morrow explains. “Living peacefully was
not a choice. The parents came here for the future of their children.”

Morrow began serving Middle Eastern refugees in Germany in 1996. She has been
serving these children—and children who came before them—in Fort Worth almost 10 years.

Refugees resettled in the United States receive pre-planned support for six months,
Morrow notes. That includes the basics, such as a place to live, homemaking necessities, a first

“But from then on, they’re lost,” she says, explaining newcomers still need help learning
to adjust to and fit into their adopted country.

“A Congolese father told me: ‘We do not want your things (although they still could use
more things). We want your relationship. Where we came from, our aunties and uncles taught
us how to make a life. We do not know how to live here.’

“So, we’re here to create community, to make them feel welcome, to teach them how
to live here.”

Morrow does that in the name and spirit of Christ. She crosses language, ethnic and
religious barriers with friendly support and the love of Jesus.

For many refugees, she’s a walking encyclopedia of Americana: Where to go to get their
children’s supplies for the start of school. How navigate the myriad systems that natives take
for granted—government, medical, commercial, social. “The more we connect them with
resources, the better off they are,” she says. Her presence is a constant in the apartment
complexes and neighborhoods where refugees congregate.

Hope Library at Kingdom Manifesters International Ministries is her newest initiative.
Volunteers read with the children and encourage them to read on their own. The library is open
midday on Mondays this summer, and it will be open Monday evenings in the fall.

Morrow’s signature ministry is the Ready for School program, located in four apartment
complexes last school year and opening in a fifth soon. It’s designed to teach children the concepts they should know to enter school, such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers. Each
child receives a book every week, and at the end, each one receives a bookcase at a family
reading fair.

Parents attend Ready for School with their children. “The parent learns alongside the
child,” Morrow says. “We’re teaching the parent to be a teacher.”

Last year, Ready for School ministered to 80 families who completed the 20-week
session, as well 20 others who attended less than three times.

Volunteers make Ready for School, as well as Hope Library, possible. “Somebody walks
alongside the parent and child at every step,” Morrow says. Many volunteers are retired
educators, and they primarily come from four congregations—Bear Valley Community Church
in Colleyville, Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, The Church at the Crossing in Aledo, and
Kingdom Manifesters International Ministries in Fort Worth.

More than anything, the ministry needs volunteers. “We can use volunteers for a day,
an event, a program,” Morrow reports. Ready for School involves two hours per week for 20
weeks; Hope Library also takes a couple of hours a week.

Like refugees, the Ready for School curriculum is mobile. “It’s free and online,” Morrow
says, adding two Houston Baptist congregations—Tallowood and Willow Meadows—started
using it this spring.

For more information about Morrow’s ministry or to learn how to minister to
immigrants and refugees in your community, contact her at: kmorrow@cbf.net or (817) 964-

To see and download the Ready for School curriculum, click here.

The Miles Foundation, which supports Ready for School, has issued a $5,000 challenge
grant through Literacy Connexus, a Fort Worth-based Fellowship Southwest ministry partner.
To contribute to the challenge, send gifts to Literacy Connexus with a notation for Ready for
School and mailed to 3020 South Cherry Lane, P.O. Box #123168, Fort Worth, TX 76121.

Also, to learn more about or to support Morrow’s ministry, click here.

Amy Gobel, of Bear County Community Church, in the Hope Library

Amy Gobel, of Bear County Community Church, in the Hope Library

Jay Pritchard