Working with Refugees, Stage 6: Enhance Work with Refugees

silhouette of refugees walking in a row

With this final chapter of learning how to hear from God where He wants you to join Him at work and how to begin a faith-based ministry, we will learn about steps each organization must consider after the first month or year of the ministry organization’s life. These steps are evaluation, adaptation, expansion, continuation, and discontinuation.
 

Evaluation and Adaptation

Stage 5 taught us evaluation and adaptation as part of day 1’s work. The leader of the ministry should do this at the end of the first week, month, and year to ensure the ministry is providing the help refugees need. This helps the leaders and other workers decide if the perceived and expressed needs are the real needs and if they are being met by the ministry. Evaluation and adaption are a continuing cycle of any organization with a positive impact. Whether the ministry is 1 week, 1 year, or 10 years old, evaluation and adaptation should occur.
 

Expansion, Continuation, and Discontinuation

Because of regular assessments of needs, funds, and partners, the leaders of the faith-based ministry to refugees can identify the necessity and viability of expanding the ministries to refugees. A ministry that only offered English classes can now offer food or clothing assistance. Whereas before they could just help with used clothes, the ministry leaders recognize an opportunity to teach refugees how to write a resume (curriculum vitae) and how to look for and interview for a job. Expansion assumes the refugee ministry will continue. Keeping things stable also assumes the ministry will continue.

Situations exist where a ministry needs to be discontinued. Possibly it was an added-on ministry to meet felt needs, but when it was put into practice, the need was not great enough to warrant using resources. The refugee population may have dwindled because people returned to their home countries or moved elsewhere. The venue was not convenient to refugee habitation sites. The ministry’s reputation fell and refugees, volunteers, and funders no longer wanted to work with the ministry. The other reason a faith-based refugee ministry should cease to exist is when God says it should. We cannot fully comprehend the reason God tells us to do or not do something, but we must always obey and then seek His will for other areas in which He wants us to serve.
 

Conclusion

Wherever you are in the process of obeying God by serving Him in ministry, prayer is always paramount. Prayer helps you grow closer to God, hear more clearly from Him, receive the conviction and courage to act on His vision, and gain strength, direction, and motivation to do what He asks of you. Without prayer interweaving and enwrapping a ministry, it will unravel. The weave will fail, the colors will bleed, and true support, encouragement, training, and help will not happen.

God created each person. He loves everyone whether he or she is from our country or one 30 hours away by plane. God loves all people no matter what their religion or culture, and He desires everyone know Him as their Lord and Savior. Peter stated it this way in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” John also spoke of Jesus dying for all people in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s gift of salvation and eternal life with Him is for everyone who believes. God loves every person, even the alien—the refugee.

Before we became Christians, we alienated ourselves from God because of our sin and rebellion. That was not God’s choice. He provided the perfect sacrifice through the death of His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. No other sacrifice for sins was needed after it. If God loved us that much before He formed us in our mother’s wombs, even though we alienated ourselves from Him, we, as Christians, should love those who are alien to us. God taught this to the Israelites in the Old Testament, and Jesus taught it to the people of the New Testament. In Leviticus 19:34, Moses told the Israelites what God commanded: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” In Deuteronomy 10:19, God reminded the Israelites to show love for the alien, because they were aliens in the land of Egypt. Other key passages in the Old Testament about aliens/sojourners in the community include Jeremiah 22:3 and Deuteronomy 14:29; 24:14, 17–21; 26:12–13; and 27:19.

In the New Testament, Jesus illustrated for the Jewish lawyer the commandments Moses taught the Israelites. The lawyer tried to trick Jesus by asking how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus answered him with a question, “What is written in the Law?” The lawyer replied with the first and second greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God will with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus told the lawyer he answered correctly, now do it and live. The lawyer, being trained in debate, wanted to justify himself. He asked Jesus in verse 29, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with the parable (a story with a meaning) of the good Samaritan (in Luke 10:30–35). After telling the story, Jesus asked the lawyer who proved to be a neighbor to the beaten man. The lawyer replied with truth in verse 37, saying, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus commanded him, “Go and do the same.” Works earn no one salvation, but works are evidence of a person’s salvation and proof of a life showing the love of God.

Whether you call refugees and asylum-seekers neighbors, aliens, or sojourners, God commands us all, believers and unbelievers, to care for them because He created and loves them. As Christians, this mandate is even stronger. We show our love for God by our obedience to Him. John taught this in 1 John 5:3, when he wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” Jesus also taught this in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jesus brought it closer to home when He said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).

Christian and non-Christian possess God’s natural and written laws and the moral laws instilled in our consciences. They should lead us to care for refugees and asylum-seekers. Along with the instilled conscience and God’s written laws, we hold the God-given capacity for compassion, love, and care. Within each of us, we know the right thing to do—care for the aliens/refugees and asylum-seekers.

With this understanding, we must decide with the free will God gave each of us if we will obey this internal and written mandate to care for the oppressed, widowed, poor, orphaned, and alien. We must decide if we will weave our weft threads on the loom with the refugees and asylum-seekers’ warp threads to make a beautiful tapestry with God. This tapestry woven together is stronger than the individual, singular weft threads or warp threads. With this woven tapestry, “we” and “them” become “us” that supports, encourages, helps, teaches, feeds, and walks alongside each other as the family God envisioned humanity to be. We each get to choose to be woven by God into the beautiful tapestry of community and love. This is chosen woven-ness. You get to choose; God does not force you. If you choose not to weave into the lives of others in your community, then you force the gifts God gave you to stagnate or extinguish. You become the weaker person in the community because you do not have the strength of the whole community, only your own. Will you choose to be woven by God into His tapestry of a compassionate and loving humanity? Will you choose as Joshua did, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15)?


Adapted from “Continuation and Conclusion: Enhancing Work with Refugees” by Gail Davis with permission.

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