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Ministry Opportunity: Help a Recent Immigrant or Refugee

The Bible tells us that God is pleased when we help the poor and welcome the alien.

The United States and Canada receive thousands of refugees every year. Many come with little money and few contacts, and the help you and your church give them can surely change a life.

In his book, The Changing Face of the Church: From American to Global, Pastor Tom Nees shares his own experience:

Following the Vietnam War, our family agreed to sponsor a refugee family from South Vietnam. I remember well the day in 1975 when my wife and I took our four children, ages 6 to 13, to Washington National Airport to welcome our new friends, a Vietnamese family - father and mother and their six children, ages 2 to 14 - who had been flown to us from their temporary shelter at an Arkansas military base. In the rush of resettlement following the war, there was not much paperwork and no preparation. We had no idea what to expect. We just agreed that we wanted to help a homeless refugee family and would make the adjustments necessary to live together in the rather large parsonage provided us by Washington First Church of the Nazarene.

The father was a former officer in the South Vietnamese navy. He spoke enough broken English to translate for all of us. For our family it was an exciting, expanding experience which ended all too soon when we were able to help them find work and a decent, even if humble, place to live.

As we look back, we realize that we didn't have to go to Vietnam to learn about the war or Southeast Asia. Through their experiences we learned about a country we have yet to visit. We learned to appreciate their traditions, their values, their loyalty to family, and even their Christian faith as practiced quite differently from our own.

And we became their gateway to America. We introduced them to our neighbors, enrolled the children in schools, led them through the supermarkets and shopping malls, assisted them in applying for jobs and housing, and invited them to church. In all these experiences and more, both families were changed.

Organizations that partner with churches in ministry to immigrants:

World Relief has worked to help resettle more than 200,000 refugees in the past thirty years. They work in partnership with local churches and offer services in the U.S. and abroad.

From their website:

Every year, World Relief staff and volunteers help thousands of refugees - victims of war and persecution - replant their lives in the United States. With 23 offices across the U.S., World Relief is the biggest evangelical refugee resettlement agency in America. Our staff and volunteers come alongside America's newcomers, helping them adjust to the culture, find employment, learn English, take steps towards citizenship and build a future for themselves and their children.

VIDEO: World Relief - Replanting Lives

Canadian Lutheran World Relief has been serving the world's poor and disenfranchised since 1946, offering community development, refugee resettlement, emergency relief, and humanitarian aid shipments. Their web site has practical information to help your church get involved.

Learn More:

The Changing Face of the Church: From American to Global
by Tom Nee

Loving the Stranger: A Divine Mandate for Refugee and Migrant Ministry
by Nana Couffie

Ministry to Migrants and Asylum Seekers: A Guide for Evangelical Churches
by Nick Park

* Read our article on Friendship Evangelism for practical suggestions for building cross-cultural friendships.

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