We don't have to agree on immigration policy (or even talk about it) to recognize that God wants us to follow his example to care for the foreigners among us and for refugees fleeing war and persecution (see
Deuteronomy 10:18 for example).
Here are some non-political, non-policy ways that you can engage with others to grow your heart for people that God constantly reminds us to care for.
World Vision has a concise prayer guide for Syrian refugees that can be applied to any refugees: Their first prompt is: "Lord, Psalm 46:9 declares that You "make wars cease to the ends of the earth." Help those in conflict with one another to come to a peaceful solution, so that civilians may resume their daily lives. Lord, we trust in You." You can read the other seven here: check out this link for eight ways to pray for refugees.
2. Get to know refugees and immigrants
"The answer to the growing hostility in our culture is hospitality. Before the church had stained-glass and steeples, it had tables and kitchens." –Rev. Mike Cline
NPR shared a story about a "Syrian Supper Club" where American citizens invited refugees to dinner just to learn from each other. The story talked about hiring caterers, but you could simply host a pot-luck and invite refugees and immigrants from the area along with your own friends and family to begin conversations that will lead to empathy and understanding. We have access to resources and tools to help you get this started.
Did you know that All Shores Wesleyan Church has helped resettle several refugee families in the Grand Haven, Michigan, area? There are two families now being served from Sudan. One family of six is now largely independent. The other family is a single mother of three who is trying to find work and take care of her kids. We have a team who coordinates rides, babysits, helps with English, helps navigate social services, and has helped furnish their home. Do you want to help? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Nepali church in Grand Haven. (Did you even know there was a Nepali church in Grand Haven? Or enough people from Nepal to form a church?) Experience worship in another culture and language, invite someone to coffee, hear what they went through that brought them to this country.
For best practices on connecting with your neighbors from other countries, check out this post by Dina Horne.
3. Connect with Organizations that support refugees and immigrants locally
The Immigrant Connection in Grand Rapids provides low-cost legal support for those pursuing legal pathways to citizenship. Immigrant Connection is housed at City Life Church, a Wesleyan church in Grand Rapids. You'll walk away with a better ability to tell fact from fiction online and next steps to get involved if you want to help. The Immigrant Connection is willing to host another "Immigrant Connection 101" in the tri-cities or Coopersville area if we have enough people interested in attending.
Bethany Christian Services (BCS) provides aid to kids who have walked across the border into the U.S. These are kids, as young as six, who have traveled from countries in South or Central America to the border. Can you imagine how bad things must be to send your 6-year-old on a journey like that? Through a program called Transitional Foster Care, BCS finds temporary foster homes, does basic wellness checks, connects with extended family members in the United states, connects kids with lawyers, and keeps them safe as the government works to determine the next step of a kid's journey. We had 10 kids from the Transitional Foster Care program at our Foster Fun Night in November and their stories were heartbreaking. Contact BCS's Muskegon office to find out how you can get involved.
4. Support organizations who are helping refugees overseas
There are a lot of good organizations who support refugees and immigrants including:
- The Refugee Relief Fund helps Global Partners missionaries meet the physical needs of refugees in Europe
- The Immigrant Connection at City Life
- World Vision
- World Hope International
- Charity Watch lists several charities with a proven track record here
I'm sure any of these organizations would welcome your financial contribution!
5. Support missionaries who are helping refugees overseas.
Global Partners (the missionary arm of The Wesleyan Church) has missionaries who work with refugees overseas. Their ability to continue their work is directly dependent on others' willingness to support their work financially. Some are at risk of coming off the field in the next few months due to short funds. If you're interested in supporting missionaries who are working with refugees, contact email@example.com or contact Dave & Dina Horne (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dave serves as the Europe Area Director and can connect you with missionaries on his team who serve refugees.
All Shores Wesleyan Church, Spring Lake, Michigan