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Refugees Are Welcome Here: A Prophetic Dialogue About the Crisis in Afghanistan

August 25, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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Although the invasion of Afghanistan was billed as an effort to aid the Afghan people, the past 20 years and the current crisis reveal plainly that their wellbeing was never our top priority. Even present conversation on the news about the refugee crisis too often centers “who is to blame,” instead of confronting the staggering humanitarian both parties have been complicit in creating. And the refugees in clear and present danger—many of whom risked their lives to work beside our country—find themselves wading through red tape to apply for asylum.

On Wednesday, August 25, our Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis will interview Shekaiba Wakili-Bennett and Retired General Ron Lewis, to help us understand the crisis in Afghanistan, the history of U.S. military involvement in the region, and inform viewers how they can advocate on behalf of refugees. In particular, Shekaiba Wakili-Bennett will describe how her family immigrated from Afghanistan from fear of violence, the suffering of Afghan women and girls under Taliban rule, and how artists can be a moral voice. And Retired General Lewis will talk about his own history of service in Afghanistan, his analysis of U.S. military action in the region, and what our country must do now. And Rev. Dr. Lewis will amplify their collective call for immediate action and refugee resettlement.

Shekaiba Wakili-Bennett is a documentary photographer. Her family immigrated from Afghanistan when she was 10 years old, fleeing violence. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts from State University of New York, College at Old Westbury, and a Master of Arts in Education from Teachers College Columbia University. She holds a Permanent Teacher’s Certification in Art Education K-12th grades. She has taught in high schools in New York City, Long Island, and has been a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities. She is an actively-exhibited photographer, whose work has appeared in art galleries and museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, Tribes Gallery, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Gruss Center for Visual Arts, Gallery Arts India, Graphic Eye Gallery, etc. Ms. Wakili’s work has also been featured in publications and media such as The New York Times, Newsday, NY ARTS, PBS, Town & Country Magazine, and several books.

Ron Lewis is a recently retired Army General who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ron has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College. He served two tours in Afghanistan.

Ron has 30 years of senior executive experience in Defense, Aerospace, Acquisition, Global Security, and Public Affairs. He spent most of his career working as a strategist, leader, and manager. The organizations he led ranged in size from 30 to 20,000 personnel. Much of his recent military experience in the Pentagon was at the cabinet level operating across the United States, Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific regions.


August 25, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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