Make it Personal: Build Relationships with Refugees

Headline news reports daily showcase the worldwide refugee crisis. Governments pass laws to deal with influxes of homeless internationals. Communities struggle to find solutions to growing multicultural populations. Neighbors voice conflicting opinions. What should believers do in the face of such turmoil?

Sure, we care about the refugee issue. But how can we change caring about the issue to caring for the refugee? Instead of being overwhelmed with current events, let’s allow God to use us to reach the nations, one person at a time, right in our own backyards.

Ways to Create Space for Relationships

Physical Space

  • Spring clean. Organize your home to make a comfortable area to entertain. For maximum flexibility, utilize your living room, kitchen, porch, and backyard. Include a container of toys for younger guests.
  • Explore. Search your neighborhood for convenient locations for gatherings and places to meet and make friends with refugees. Coffee shops, restaurants, parks, schools, medical offices, grocery stores, and the post office are important to families regardless of cultural background.

Spiritual Space

  • Pray. Pray for opportunities to greet and become acquainted with refugee families. Ask the Lord to lead you to 1 or 2 refugee women in whom to invest. Pray you would exhibit kindness, compassion, and friendship while living a loving Christian lifestyle.
  • Study. Read biblical accounts of refugees. Consider the impact refugee status had on the characters and how God used those transition times for His purposes.

Mental Space

  • Clear the calendar. Schedule time to pray and focus on the issue. Block chunks of time to consider your response to refugees and how the Lord is directing you to take action.
  • Research. Discover which cultural groups of refugees are moving to your community. Read information from reputable sources and ask questions of experts. Learn about conditions in refugee countries to allow love and compassion to bathe your budding relationships.

Emotional Space

  • Imagine your family as refugees. Consider home country situations, the stresses of refugee life, and living as refugees in an unfamiliar land. How would you feel if you didn’t know the language, legal system, customs, and neighbors? What would you need help with the most? What concerns would you have for your children?
  • Choose one issue. Focus on helping refugees shop for groceries or find doctors. Help refugee children succeed at school by volunteering. Teach survival English or accompany refugees to appointments to help explain terms. Watch for opportunities to serve refugees in your community.

Social Space

  • Commit. Make a goal to greet and exhibit friendliness to the refugees you meet. Offer coffee or tea. Take your children to the park and visit with refugee parents while the youngsters play. Hold the door open at stores. Make eye contact and smile. Patiently express interest in the lives of refugees.
  • Build. Allow the Lord to point you to the right woman. Lovingly invest in her life. Lavish time and energy on her family. With prayer, share your hope in Jesus as you learn about each other. Let her see Jesus’ love and compassion as you grow in friendship.

Angie Quantrell lives in the Yakima Valley of central Washington, where she loves seeing new faces and families from around the world.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appears as part of the My Refugee Response series in Missions Mosaic (March 2018).

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