Women on Mission

It’s Worth Your Time: Reach out to Refugees

reaching out to refugees

Have you ever moved to a new place where you didn’t know anyone? It seems as if it takes forever to find your way around and get used to new roads, grocery stores, and schools. Without family or friends nearby, it’s easy to withdraw.

Then it happens. A new colleague at work or person at the church you’re visiting offers some advice or recommends his or her most trusted mechanic. Life gets easier and you settle in. While we can probably all identify with this experience at one time or another, can you imagine doing it without knowing English? The majority of the refugees in our midst encounters this reality daily.

We focus in our churches on the need for refugees to learn English, and that is important. But in the meantime, how do they find housing, enroll their children in school, and understand how to get insurance or a driver’s license? The details of life can be overwhelming for a person who has never had to register his or her child for school or go to the health department for immunizations.

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

“Race” to Reach Your Community with a Missional Scavenger Hunt

In The Amazing Race, competing teams travel around the world to complete challenges in their pursuit of the $1 million grand prize. Plan an Amazing Race–style scavenger hunt to energize your missions group and reach out to your community.

Divide your group into teams (3–5 people is ideal). Give each team a list of challenges to complete within the time frame of the game. Teams should start with the required task and then choose which optional ones they will complete. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner (recognize the winning team at a church service or with a small prize).

Ready, set, go! Blow a whistle to send teams on their way. Play music to create a race day atmosphere.

Mission Scavenger Hunt

Assign 1 person to be the scorekeeper for the game. Instruct each team to select a team member to serve as reporter and send a photo of the team completing each challenge to the scorekeeper. Distribute the scorekeeper’s contact information (mobile number, email, Facebook messenger, etc.) to reporters.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Week of Prayer for North American Missions missionaries

It’s in our DNA as Southern Baptists to pull together as a community of believers and spread the gospel.

In the 1880s, Annie Armstrong pioneered the Maryland Mission Rooms, a missions literature library that detailed and circulated information regarding vital needs on the missions field. Armstrong called for women’s groups throughout the United States to pool their “egg money” and prayers for missions. Women knew that by combining their efforts, they could make an impact.

It might be 2018, but the goal remains the same. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering enables North American missionaries to plant new churches, care for those in the community, and reach the lost all across the United States, Canada, and their territories. It is one of the most unique cooperative offerings in that 100% of the gifts go to support and equip missionaries.

No Longer Alone

“Our work is all about building relationships,” Kandi Ostertag said. She, husband Matt, and children Kaitlyn and Mckenzie have served in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years. They lead a team of International Mission Board (IMB) church planting missionaries in the Bajío (central highlands of Mexico). They also encourage and help Mexican church planters as needed.

The Bajío covers a large area. As a result, many house/simple churches planted by the IMB and national partners over the last several years feel alone. Kandi Ostertag said the church plants often feel like “the ugly duckling and different from everyone else.” Since they differ so much from traditional churches, the house/simple churches’ sense of isolation can grow intense.         

To help overcome such feelings, the Ostertags host retreats and other events for these churches. Those activities allow church members to “get away from everything and have time with the Lord.” They also foster prayer support, encouragement, and friendships.

Refugees Are Here: What Now?

You hear the news—refugees are being sent to your city. Hardly any time passes and it happens. “They” are really here. “They” start appearing in the grocery store, lining up to enroll their children in school, and sitting in the doctor’s waiting room with you.

Your mind races. Is the vetting process enough to protect our citizens? What if “they” are really terrorists? What if “they” have illnesses your children or grandchildren can catch? It’s easy to panic. But what we really need to ask is, who are “they” anyway?

Who are they?

They are people. They are people who’ve been displaced from countries in distress. They are mothers, fathers, widows, widowers, grandparents, and innocent children. While we might carry concerns for what they’re capable of, we need to consider how they are feeling—frightened, alone, bewildered, and sad.

Discover their background.

After refugees arrive, conduct some research to learn where they are coming from. What is their homeland like? What trauma have they been exposed to? What are the cultural norms?

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Share the Gospel in Assisted Living Facilities

“Hey, Bubba, how are you today?” I asked as I leaned over to kiss my husband.

He turned to look at me and nodded his head. A stroke had left him paralyzed on the left side, and he now relied on the assisted living facility’s nursing staff to care for him. Two pairs of socks and fresh fruit lay beneath the small Christmas tree I bought for his table. A Christmas card pinned to the bulletin board offered greetings and reminded us of Christ’s birth.

How wonderful to know that residents who don’t have visitors would not only hear the Christmas story from volunteers but also receive gifts in honor of Christ’s birth.

Have you ever considered volunteering? Here’s how you and your missions group can start sharing the gospel with assisted living residents:

Communicating the Gospel to Women in Mill City

Missionary Sarah Landry has been serving for 6 years in Mill City, better known by most as Lowell, Massachusetts. The city’s nickname comes from its influential place in Industrial Revolution history. Landry works among the city’s college students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and with women of all ages through Mill City Church.

Discipleship is the central part of Landry’s work. “I spend much of my time meeting one-on-one or in small groups, sharing the gospel, and mentoring college students and young women in the local church,” she explained. This requires building relationships with women who might be very different from her. It also requires time. “These relationships are a long-term investment, especially in New England, where it can take time to gain a foothold for the gospel to be heard,” she said.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Bronson and Anna Parker*

“I made one trip to Gate-Town to do a training,” Bronson Parker shared. “All went well, but we received notice that I am not allowed to travel on the river to any of the communities.” Because Marcus*—president of the association in Gate-Town—remains in power, little has changed in the modern-day Wild West atmosphere of the Amazon Basin.

Losing his only source of income, Pedro* was forced to quit his teaching job. “But God is good and is providing for Pedro,” Parker said. “He and his family came to live with us for 3 months. We were able to disciple them further in the faith.”

Since then, Pedro has started 3 weekly ministries: a children’s ministry in Gate-Town; a discipleship group with 2 families in Gate-Town, who are forming into a church; and a ministry with the lost in his home village, Village 7, where he has been sharing Bible stories. “Many are listening, and we believe some will come into the kingdom soon,” Parker reported.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Ryan and Seane’ Rice

Ryan and Seane’ Rice continue to minister and see God doing great things through Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans. Their church is ethnically diverse and they reach out to help many on the fringes of society.

Oak Park Baptist Church, a sister church that had served the community for more than 60 years, fell on some difficult times with declining membership and problems reaching out to the community. The leaders of Connect Church and Oak Park began to talk about the possibility of merging the 2 churches. As the leaders of both congregations talked, they felt the Holy Spirit leading them to come together to better serve their community.

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