Lloyd Merry Evans, a dear friend of refugees and of the World Relief family, passed away on November 17, 2015.
Lloyd’s service to refugees began in the late 1990’s when his church, Maple Valley Presbyterian, sponsored a Kurdish family of refugees. As Lloyd remembered it, “My church friends invited me to a picnic with the Kurdish family. I wasn’t really interested.” But he had no other plans so he went to the picnic and was moved by the family’s story of arrival to the U.S. Through this experience, he found out about refugees’ need for furniture and household goods for their first apartment in America.
From then on, Lloyd was known as “the Furniture Guy” to everyone at World Relief. He volunteered for more than a decade and helped furnish apartments for literally thousands of refugees. As his former World Relief colleagues, Lidija Rudenky, remembers, “Lloyd loved refugees and often he would be the first from the American community to visit them upon their arrival, deliver household items and befriend them for life.”
Lloyd did the physically demanding work of picking up and delivering furniture donations into his late sixties, oftentimes logging more than 50 hours a week—all as a volunteer. He was recognized for his service with the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service. This award is given to “an ordinary person who does extraordinary things for others.”
But Lloyd did more than deliver furniture. He opened up his life to refugees in so many ways. His World Relief coworker, Nataliya Semeshchuk, recalls once when a Ukrainian refugee family arrived and–with no prior notice–needed a place to stay for their first days in the country. Without hesitation, Lloyd offered his home. This sort of joyful generosity is something that Lloyd’s World Relief friends remember as typical.
Even after he finished delivering furniture at World Relief, Lloyd continued to serve refugees. He sold his truck to the organization for a fraction of what it was worth so that the work of delivering furniture to refugees could carry on. He also continued to visit refugee families on a regular basis. He had a special heart for Iraqis and Kurdish people, in particular. Because of his incredible service, he was given the name “Shwan” by the Kurdish community, which means, “The Shepherd.”
One thing that all of Lloyd’s World Relief colleagues remember about him was his sense of humor. One former colleague, Antonina Bozhko, remembers that whenever someone commented that Lloyd was doing the work of a much younger man in moving furniture, he’d smile and reply, “I’m busy. No time to get old!” It must have been this sense of humor, surmised another former colleague, which enabled Lloyd to do his work in the face of such incredible need.
All of us at World Relief extend our deepest condolences to the Evans family and join them in mourning their loss, while also celebrating Lloyd–a joyful and tireless friend of refugees. We praise God for this good and faithful servant!