30,000 people. That’s the proposed ceiling for refugee resettlement in 2019. It is also the lowest cap since the Refugee Act was signed in 1980. I’m discouraged—the shared frustration is palpable. But this is a moment for our passion to drive us into action. Here are 8 ways that we CAN support refugees. Everyone can do something.
PRAY for refugees. Without God, the refugee crisis is hopeless. Without God, I have every reason to wring my hands in worry and scream in frustration and mourn in despair (and oh, how much more intensely they feel it.) But God is real, and He does answer prayer. I can approach His throne with confidence on behalf of refugees. God is not restrained by any administration. God has the power to change the hearts of rulers. God can bring peace to war torn places. God can bring comfort and hope to those who have suffered displacement, persecution, and loss. We must pray!
EDUCATE yourself. Oftentimes the problem simply lies in not knowing what’s going on! There are so many myths spread about refugees, don’t believe everything you hear. I’ve frequently heard: “The majority of refugees are military aged men.” Nope. “Unvetted refugees are flooding our nation and we don’t even know where they’re from.” Nope. “Refugees receive more aid than our veterans.” Nope. Take the time to check reputable sources, and graciously correct those who unintentionally spread false information. Truth is vital. Here’s one starting point: The UN Refugee Agency- Figures at a Glance
ADVOCATE for refugees. Do this in grace and truth. I struggle with the grace part. I’m tempted to react in anger towards those who are apathetic at best, or disparage refugees at worst. We must strive to follow the example of Jesus, who unabashedly spoke truth in a spirit of grace. We must apply the wisdom of Proverbs 16:21 “…Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” If we want to persuade people to have compassion for refugees, it will only work if our words are gracious. (At the same time, we’d do well to remember that sometimes grace is expressed by rebuke and correction.)
CONTACT your legislator. Communicate your fervent desire to welcome refugees. We must prick our nation’s conscience on this. The current state of affairs must change. Info to Contact Elected Officials
GIVE to agencies that assist refugees. It’s frustrating when we want to offer practical support but just don’t know how to reach refugees. By giving to trusted organizations that are working on their behalf, we can offer desperately needed and practical support. For this particular issue, my favorite organization is World Relief. They work with refugees stateside and internationally.
SERVE refugees in your area. You probably have refugees living near you. It can be difficult to identify where they are—it took quite a bit of searching before I found any useful information regarding how to be involved locally. But do a little digging, and you’ll likely find ways to serve. In my area there is a need for volunteers to take refugee families to doctors appointments, teach English as a second language (ESL), tutor refugee children, network to help find potential job placements. Think outside the box, talk with agencies who are working nearby, and consider ways you might be equipped to fill in the gaps.
BEFRIEND refugees in your area. If you are lucky enough to find them, take the time to befriend them. This is often challenging due to language barriers, but even seeing a familiar face on a frequent basis is a source of comfort as they learn to navigate a foreign country and culture. And as we strive to extend love and friendship, we must also learn how to receive from them. True relationships go both ways. It can be uncomfortable to receive generous hospitality from those we know are in need, but fight the inclination to resist. We should never rob people of the opportunity to give, since it is far more blessed to give than to receive!
FOSTER unaccompanied refugee children. There are children here who have been forced to flee their homes, are now separated from their parents, and are in a country where they do not know the language, the people, or the culture. Many states don’t offer this opportunity, but it may be available to you. Learn more here: Bethany Refugee Foster Care
I’m sure there’s more. But for now, start by committing to ONE action item on this list, and God-willing the fruit will multiply.
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This post was originally published on January 28, 2017. It has been edited to reflect current updates.