Practical Ways to Help Refugees

 

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

-Emma Lazarus, 1883

And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

-Deuteronomy 10:19

‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

-Jesus in Matthew 25:35-36

I don’t think refugees should merely be dismissed as political topic.

I’m not into politics, but I am into love.

If we are to truly live out the love of Jesus (who was a refugee himself in Matt. 2:13-15,) us Christians should be on front lines showing grace and love to these survivors of war and oppression.

It’s time we focused on people and not politics.

On loving our neighbors and not fearful self-preservation.

Regardless of your political background and beliefs, I urge you to read on.

I urge you to seek out refugees near you and spend time listening to their stories.

You will be forever changed.

I want to share this statement from the newsletter of Oasis International Volume 32 – Feb 2017. Josh and I have volunteered with Oasis on and off for several years. We also contribute financially every month to help them welcome refugees from all over the world in the name of Jesus. These are Christians who are living the Gospel not just in word but in deed by welcoming the foreigner and showing them hospitality in tangible ways.

Our nation and our world have been shaken by our President’s executive order on refugees coming into our country. Many refugee families anticipating a new life in the United States have been stranded in airports and turned back from coming here to St. Louis and many other cities. Amidst the confusion, shock, anger, fear and discouragement seen people of all walks of life rise up, march and speak up for these families who are desperate for a new life. Our phones have been ringing from pastors, church members, universities and individuals wanting to know how Oasis International and the families we serve are doing. The outpouring of love and concern has been phenomenal. As I was in a conversation with one of the pastors in my office, the voice of the Holy Spirit rose up in me and said “We have already been given an Executive Order from our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. He said “This is my commandment that you love one another.” (John 15:12)

People in general don’t like commandments. But to love, now that is a great commandment!

What can we do? That is what all the callers and emailers and texters are asking. Here are a few things we can do:

  1. Let the executive order from President Trump motivate you to do the Executive Order from Jesus. We still have many refugees in the United States that need to be loved and cared for. Greet refugees in the market place and let them know that you care about their family here and their families still in refugee camps or still in the middle of their wars.
  2. Give financially. Refugees that come to the US recieve 3 months assistance and then they are on their own. In 3 months they need to get a job, learn English, get transportation, and figure out the US government. Every week we have refugees coming for rent and utility assistance because their jobs are the low end of the pay scale. Many recieve food stamps for food items only. It does not allow them to buy essentials like toilet paper, soap, shampoo, diapers, femine products, laundry soap, etc.
  3. Become a friend. Loving and caring will bring you to the place of friendship. Friends will help the new refugee navigate this new life here in this new city and country. Friends will also help take away fears and discouragment and help give faith, hope, and love.
  4. Pray. Pray for President Trump and the leaders around him for wisdom and compassion so our country will be safe and the refugees will recieve the welcome they deserve. Pray for the refugees living in the US for peace, for jobs, and for security. Pray for the refugees already vetted to be released from their refugee camps quickly.

-Mark and Joani Akers, Founders / Directors of Oasis International

Oasis International from Philip James Films on Vimeo.

I can personally attest to the power and transformation of relationships. The refugees I know have made a huge impact on my life. And it’s encouraging to hear them say that they value our friendship. Making friends isn’t easy when you don’t speak the language well. Again and again, I’ve heard refugees say that they need relationships more than anything else. Just one American friend can make a huge difference in helping them adjust to their new home. 

Sign up here to join the St. Louis Good Neighbor Initiative and be connected with a refugee family near you.

And if you aren’t in St. Louis here are some other great resources from author Ann Voskamp.

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