Can we be changed by the lives of refugees? Taylor Smith is living proof that we can. After spending time with refugees both in eastern Africa and her own hometown of Portland, Taylor found herself leaning into gratitude and away from defining herself by her losses. She has taken her experience and turned it into a non-profit that hopes to help refugees feel like they belong in a world that tells them they don’t.
Who is Taylor Smith? Taylor Smith is a journalist and storyteller who focuses on creating community and belonging for people all over the globe. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in journalism, her love for people and their stories has taken her to east Africa and then home again to her native Portland, OR. A reporter for the Oregonian, Taylor has worked with university students in Rwanda and refugees in her own city, focusing on providing them a sense of community and spiritual mentorship.
After losing both of her parents by the age of 18, Taylor learned what loneliness looked like and found her healing in God’s love. She has a special love for the refugees who have lost their families and their homes, and works alongside them to help restore the feeling of belonging to their lives.
“I had the space to surrender my broken pieces to God and ask Him to write my story.” — Taylor
“What I experienced in refugee camps was so vibrant and to me that could only be explained by a joy that comes from God.” — Taylor
“Before I visited a refugee camp, I had defined myself by the things I had lost. And then I got to a refugee camp, where everyone there had lost their homeland, their homes, their belongings, family members, and yet in this place of loss they had a spirit of being found. Their faith couldn’t be taken away from them.” — Taylor
“The refugee community has taught me to live with open hands and a posture of surrender.” — Taylor
“Our world is full of a lot of people crying out to be seen right now.” — Taylor
- Don’t doubt the bigness of God. God can take a country known the world over for its evil and make it a peaceful haven. And He can ask us to come alongside in that process.
- When you encounter someone who is antagonist to the Christian faith, it’s likely that they don’t care about what they should believe. Reach out to them with a focus on belonging, first. It’s much easier to follow with the Gospel, but it’s much easier to lead with belief and belonging. Even the terrorist organizations lead with belonging.
- Focusing on our losses keeps us from experiencing gratitude for what we do have.