Iranian-American Minister: Why the Bible Belt Is the Perfect Place for Muslim Refugees
March 8, 2018
Samira Page sees the church mobilizing to serve Dallas’s influx of new neighbors.
When Samira Izadi Page arrived in Dallas nearly two decades ago, she experienced a generous Texas welcome from a local Baptist church that provided her Iranian family a fully furnished apartment.
That first impression changed her life—setting her on the path to finally convert to Christianity, seek ordination in the Episcopal Church, and dedicate her career and ministry to refugees.
“My life has always been about being a bridge between two cultures,” said Page, founder of Gateway of Grace, a nondenominational nonprofit that has connected more than 90 Dallas congregations with refugee families in the area. “It’s not about me; it’s about God’s work. I see myself as just a bridge, a steward of what God is already doing.”
Plenty has changed in North Texas since 1999, when Page and her ex-husband arrived with their two sons, having made their way to the United States via Turkey and Mexico. Back then, Page had glimpses of the God of the Bible—a childhood dream of Mary that she could never forget, plus the Christian values gleaned from classic literature she read growing up in Iran—but hadn’t yet come to understand the gospel preached in churches in her new home.
In her first years in Dallas, the area was already booming with ethnic diversity; the region’s immigrant population had grown by two and half times (146%) between 1990 and 2000, according to US Census data. During the 21st century, the foreign-born and refugee population has continued to climb and, at times, become a source of political tension.
The year before President Donald Trump took office, Dallas-Fort Worth resettled more refugees than any other US metropolitan area, according to US State Department …