Working with Refugees, Stage 3 Continued: Advocate for Refugees and Your Ministry

microphone laying down on greenish background above word advocacy

Connections are vital when working with refugees. Besides connecting with the community to learn, finding other ministry individuals and organizations, and seeking volunteers and funding, another big reason exists for getting into the community: acceptance of refugees and a ministry among them.

Advocacy for refugees is very important to your organization’s or ministry’s success. It must happen on many levels: in neighboring streets, in churches and schools around the ministry site, with local nongovernmental organizations/nonprofit organizations, and with government offices. Advocacy occurs not only to get funds and volunteers but also to help an established society accept a ministry and a people group, especially a ministry to “the least of these.”

In general, people dislike associating with or seeing people who are considered on a different societal level as far as living and working spheres are concerned. Several possible reasons exist for this:

  • potential decreased property value;
  • concern for personal safety;
  • fear of jobs being offered to people willing to accept a lower wage; and
  • personal prejudice.

Advocacy can help ease these issues and help a community accept refugees and then take initiative by tangibly helping them. Without advocacy, a ministry to refugees will struggle. Roadblocks will arise because of the previously mentioned reasons. This will cause organizers of the ministry to spend a large amount of time fighting fires instead of caring for the refugees of the community.

 

Conclusion

For a ministry to refugees to make a difference and grow, connecting with local community leaders, professionals, and organizations is paramount. These connections can expedite your learning about how to make the refugee ministry stable and grow. They can provide a base of volunteers and funding too. Additionally, connections can provide a skill base of expertise for utilization in the refugee ministry. These professionals and skilled people can prove helpful to expand the ministry and become the experts on the organization’s board when the organization grows too.

Connecting with the community is advocacy for the ministry and for refugees. It helps community residents, leaders, professionals, and organizations to understand the lives of refugees and their needs and move beyond their personal fears and prejudices. Without this advocacy, a ministry to refugees will not grow and may even die.

As a final note, recall what Moses taught the Israelites before they entered the promised land about their tithe to God in Deuteronomy 26:5, 10–11 (NASB): “You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, . . . ‘Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God; and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household.”

God mandates throughout the Bible that we are to care for the alien, the sojourner, and our neighbor. Refugees are these people about whom God spoke. Will you choose to obey this command from God?


Adapted fromInception: Working with Refugees, Stage Three: Connectingby Gail Davis with permission. 

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