Paula Hocking is a Romanian refugee, who left her country of birth with her family in the late 1970’s when she was only nine years old. Her family landed in a small town of New Jersey where there weren’t a lot of immigrants. None of them spoke English. Their shared struggles brought them closer to one another and to this day, they remain a close-knit family. Paula graduated high school with quite a few college scholarships that enabled her to study nursing. She worked as a nurse for three decades in various departments, including ER, intensive care, and hospice.

In 2020, Paula was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer. Only 25% of people with stomach cancer survive that stage but God has kept Paula cancer free and alive. Her life, however, changed after the treatment since she had to learn to eat without a stomach. Paula is learning to listen to God’s voice daily and depend on Him for strength and encouragement as she copes with her new way of life.

Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Paula has been through much adversity – death of a loved one, infertility, and cancer, but I could see God’s love and peace shine through her. People watch how we cope with suffering and our response can point them to God.
  2. It’s the right and biblical thing to do to ask for healing when we’re sick, for deliverance when we’re in trouble. But sometimes, we can get so caught up in finding a solution and getting rid of our problems, that we fail to recognize God’s hand at work, helping us in miraculous ways during our trials. Paula appreciates how God helped her find the right doctor and the resources to help her through her caner journey.

The process of resettling in a new country can be difficult for families. We can help refugee families by being hospitable and kind. Cross cultural relationships can be inconvenient but they can also be rewarding when we don’t give up and prayerfully make consistent efforts. I hope this episode encourages you to make friends with someone from a culture that’s different from yours and expand your circle of influence.


About Mabel

An immigrant from India who has lived in seven cities across the U.S. in fourteen years, Mabel navigates between cultures, feeling at home everywhere and nowhere. In her award-winning book, Far from Home: Discovering Your Identity as Foreigners on Earth, Mabel draws from her personal experience as an immigrant and examines the lives of biblical heroes to shed light on how we can find purpose and joy as sojourners on earth. Get her FREE digital resource, 7 Reasons Why Heaven Matters.

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Download the tip sheet, Love Your Immigrant Neighbor : 5 Action Steps, here.

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