It was estimated that last year over 50 million people were displaced from their homes, with around 19.5 million forced to live as refugees. These people have been driven from their homes by war, violence, persecution, and disasters.
No longer safe to live in the place that they have called home, refugees are often forced to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs. They have lost their culture, friends, security, sense of community, and often their dignity.
The flight usually brings more trauma. Many do not survive the journey. If they survive, they often are not welcomed in the place where they seek refuge. Life in a refugee camp can be difficult, unstable, and a daily battle to survive. The vulnerability of depending on total strangers for basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter can be humiliating and defeating.
These are people with names, dreams, and hopes. These are people just like you and me. These are people loved by God. The Bible commands us to treat strangers and sojourners that come our way with love and grace:
“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ for the displaced?
One significant way is to partner with Refuge Louisville in life-changing ministry. Refuge works alongside area churches to encourage and equip them to engage the refugees and immigrants in our communities. They offer avenues through which the church can meet the various needs of our international population as they offer the help, healing, and hope of Christ.
Refuge continues to seek churches, small groups, Sunday school classes, and volunteers, who would serve on welcome teams. These teams would commit to creating a positive welcoming space for the displaced families upon arrival, and they would be a helpful resource and loving influence for the first three months. This allows Christians to be the first contacts for a refugee family as they come to America. This is significant in helping a stranger to experience the real touch of God’s grace and saving Gospel message.
Team Expectations are as follows:
- Six to ten adults on a welcome team.
- Before arrival, set up the apartment for the incoming family using supporting agency donations. Usually, this will not include transporting furniture to the apartment.
- Before arrival, purchase groceries and a welcome basket for the family.
- Before arrival, place a photo of the team in the apartment, so the family will know these are people who have committed to help them.
- Welcome the family at the airport and assist them with transportation to their new home.
- Provide as much transportation as possible the first few weeks.
- Share time with the family at least once a week for the first three months.
- At the end of three months, throw a milestone party to celebrate reaching this point.
- Teams are encouraged to stay connected with families, after the three months, as friends and continued support.
If your church is interested in making a difference in the life of a refugee family, contact Refuge Louisville to find out more information, to schedule them to share at your church, or to become part of God’s hands in reaching the nations.
Refuge Louisville, Inc
5007 Southside Drive
Louisville, KY 40214
Kentucky Baptists have a missions heritage that has demonstrated itself in going to the airport to travel to distant lands for the sake of the Gospel. The question facing us today as Kentucky Baptists is: Will we journey to the airport in obedience to the Great Commission to welcome the nations to our homeland?
You may also contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office at www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (866) 489-3527 for information.