10 Things You Can Do Right Now for Refugees That Are Non-Political

Social media and in-person discussions have burned hot after President Trump halted the entrance of refugees from certain places. The differing perspectives have had the potential to divide believers at a time when we need instead to be focused on great opportunities. Here are 10 things you can do right now in order to build bridges of friendship and serve refugees/immigrants.

  1. Lead people in positive, focused praying. Encourage your church, small group, or Sunday school class to pray for the refugees and immigrants already here. If someone else leads the prayer, you might want to email them some suggested prayer prompts. Here’s one idea:

 Dear God, while our country is in turmoil over accepting refugees, we want to pray for the millions already here. Your Word admonishes us to care for the strangers in our midst. Today we want to ask You to bring millions of immigrants already in our country to hear and respond to the gospel. Expand the work of ___________ (name one or more ministries in your area that serve refugees or immigrants) and make them a powerful expression of Your love and truth to those from Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or no religious background. Show our church how to reach the nations by better reaching out to the peoples of those nations who already live near us. Help us have compassion on refugees around the world who are suffering, especially those suffering for Jesus’ sake. Thank You for loving each of us who were also once aliens in the spiritual sense.

Or you can use a video prayer from any country dealing with a refugee crisis.

  1. Live your faith out loud. Most immigrants come from cultures where God is a part of every aspect of life, so they are very comfortable if you bring God into your next conversation with them. For example, when you pay the Sikh gas station attendant or greet a Muslim mom at your children’s school, express how thankful you are to God for… (anything from today’s sunny weather to the school’s caring staff). Develop the habit of dropping “God comments” into every interaction and see if He opens the door to more conversation.
  1. Learn the story of an immigrant in your church. Initiate a conversation in the foyer or over coffee, or better yet, invite them to your home for dessert. Find out about their experience in moving to America. Listen carefully to their story and try to see life from their perspective. How can this make you more sensitive in any cross-cultural relationship? What suggestions do they have for your church to help immigrants?
  1. Volunteer in a local ministry to refugees or immigrants. Most such ministries can use help. Invite a friend to volunteer with you.
  1. Have a conversation with kids. Talk to your children or grandchildren about God’s heart for refugees. Read with them, or gift them with a children’s book about refugees (here is a list of secular titles; review before passing along). Talk to them about befriending kids in their class or neighborhood who may be from another culture. Pray together for hurting refugees around the world.
  1. Introduce your immigrant friend. Do you have a friend who is from another country? Would they be willing to share their story with your church group? Such connections bless everyone. Use Facebook, your blog, or your next conversation with friends to describe how your life has been enriched by getting acquainted with someone from a different culture. Don’t have a friend from another country? How could you begin a cross-cultural friendship in the next few weeks?
  1. Give a gift to support refugee ministry around the globe. Prioritize one of the many ministries with a strong Christian message. Catalyst has connections in Syria and Lebanon with high-impact ministries; contact us for details.
  1. Read a book and join a FB group. Two highly recommended options are Seeking Refuge and At Home in Exile (Jeung). Better yet, enlist your small group, book club, or an informal group of friends to read the book with you and discuss it. World Relief offers a free downloadable study guide for Seeking Refuge. Join the Diaspora Mission Mobilization page on Facebook, or if you are in the Philadelphia area, the Philadelphia Regional Diaspora Network page. 
  1. Put books in your church library. In addition to the two mentioned above, consider books on ministry in lands where many refugees come from such as In the Land of Blue Burqas (McCord—about Afghanistan), and books on how to reach out to those of other faiths such as Christian.Muslim.Friend (Shenk), or Woman to Woman (Loewen).
  1. Volunteer to help organize or lead a short-term team to help with refugee ministry either in the US or abroad. There are likely immigrant churches in your city who could use help with children/youth ministry, ESL or citizenship preparation programs, or renovation of their churches or homes. One great opportunity for spiritual impact with immigrants: Global Gates’ sifting weeks in multiple cities. International Teams uses short-term workers in Greece. Heart for Lebanon takes teams there.

Do you have other suggestions for action now? Please share them.

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