refugees

Starting Over: Refugees Must Submit to a Thorough Vetting Process prior to Resettlement in the United States

In one country, a family lives in a city under siege. Gunshots and daily explosions rock the neighborhood. Children cannot play outside nor can adults go safely to work. Food and water are scarce. Escape is the only option. In another country, a young woman professes Christ and immediately becomes a target of the local police. It is illegal to profess any religion other than Islam. Her family shuns her, leaving her isolated and unprotected. If she stays, then she will surely be killed. She too must escape to survive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that worldwide, some 21 million people, half of them children, are refugees—individuals driven from their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. A very small number of these individuals (less than 1%) will receive the opportunity to start a new life in a third country after leaving their homeland.

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Refugees in Our Midst: Wars, Natural Disasters, Hunger, and Persecution Produce Refugees

More than 65 million displaced people, including 21 million refugees, fled their home countries in 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States. They came from Syria, the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other places worldwide. Consider the countries where our missionaries are serving. Many of those, such as Ukraine, are flooded with refugees, forcing missionaries to revisit strategies and form new avenues of ministry and evangelism. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. What are citizens of receiving countries supposed to do?

If we flashed back to biblical days, both Old and New Testaments, we would read of refugees from countries such as Egypt, Moab, Babylon, and others. Perhaps one of the greatest movements of refugees in history was Moses’ leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Whether the plights of refugees existed more than 2,000 years ago or today, the Bible has some very specific words for those who find refugees in their midst.

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Start Doing Your Homework

Believe it or not, fall is right around the corner. I know it’s hard to think about those crisp, cool, autumn months while the summer sun shines bright. But trust me, it’ll come faster than you think! That’s why this is the perfect time to do a little research.

Meeting Challenges and Opportunities in Ukraine

Linda Gray faces daily challenges as she serves as a single missionary in Kharkov, Ukraine. Whether dealing with vehicle maintenance problems, overcoming preconceived notions about Baptists as a cult, or working with leadership in the churches, Gray knows where to seek help, where to give a strong witness, and where to cooperate for the proclaiming of the gospel message.

Almost 98% of Ukrainians would identify themselves as Christian because they were baptized into the Orthodox church as infants. But only a small percentage of Ukrainians are born-again followers of Jesus. Though Gray has been a missionary for 18 years, she has spent 13 years in Kharkov. In previous years, she worked with church women’s groups, small-group Bible studies, and English as a second language, but now much of her focus is helping to minister to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in her region who have been displaced by war.

Friday Letter-April 21, 2017

Work Hard / Play Hard

This week the Refugee Task Force met in our building. Refugees will be the Project HELP emphasis beginning in 2018. Kristy Carr did a wonderful job facilitating our time together. Robin McCall and Kym Mitchell also led small group collaborations. We worked hard and a plan is emerging.

Late on the first night after the meetings were over, a caravan traveled to Steel City Pops. What I experienced with Cindy Vang, Fonda Magee, Beth Ann Williams, Lorna Bius, Kelly King, and Linda Cooper was balm for my soul. We talked and laughed until they turned out the lights. I had a similar experience last night at Coosa River Baptist Association. I swapped stories with the sweet associational WMU director and director of missions until they started cleaning the fellowship hall.

Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (2009), writes: “Play is the swing of the rhythm in music, the bounce in the ball, the dance that delivers us from the lockstep march of life. It is the 'meaningless moment' that makes the day memorable and worthwhile.”

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Kim and Ron Carr

Week of Prayer Day 4

Jacksonville, Florida

The large refugee population of Jacksonville, Florida, creates a high demand for English as a second language (ESL) programs. The International Learning Center (ILC) led by NAMB Send Relief–ILC national director Kim Carr meets that need daily by investing in the lives of those displaced from their home countries by poverty, war, and persecution.

Carr and her husband, Ron, founded the ministry in 2000, and they officially opened the ILC in 2003. Since then, they have enrolled over 5000 ESL learners representing 108 countries. Often, ILC students have worked as professionals in their home countries yet find few job opportunities in the United States. To help this situation, ILC programs focus on English language acquisition, reading, workplace skills, citizenship classes, and youth tutoring. The ILC’s focus on family is important.

Friday Letter - November 11, 2016

We Celebrate Prayer . . .

On Monday, women around the world (nearly 130 countries) gathered for the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. It was European women, the first to organize themselves into a continental union, who gave birth to the idea of a special day of prayer among Baptist women. After the devastation of the Second World War, Baptist women in Europe felt compelled to begin the healing processes for women isolated by war and national loyalties. I know many of you participated in day of prayer activities. David George and Candice Lee were with the First Baptist Church of Montgomery. Linda Cooper participated in events in two states! She was in the Nashville Baptist Association with many Tennessee WMU staff members, as well as the Warren Baptist Association in Kentucky.

We Celebrate Generosity . . .

Last week Kristy Carr and Laura Harper participated in the Pure Water, Pure Love (PWPL) Celebration at Northside Baptist Church in Douglas, Georgia. This year the churches in the area gave just over $30,000 to PWPL. We are grateful for their incredible generosity.

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Identity and Purpose

Jesus was aware of who He was. He knew why He had to humble Himself and take on the likeness of man. He was obedient to the point of death and died on a cross for our sins fulfilling the requirement of the law. And because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, we have hope of life eternal with Him.

Just as Jesus knew who He was and what His purpose was here, those of us who have believed in Jesus by God’s grace can also know who we are and what our purpose is here. When we read the Bible, it is easy to see that our purpose is to bring God glory. The difficulty comes in knowing how to use our gifts and skills to bring Him glory.

God has made us each with distinct interests and gifts, and we can look at those and begin to see what the Lord has in mind for us.

myMISSION, myCALLING

Exactly three years ago, I was on my first myMISSION trip. We went to Atlanta, and our whole weekend was dedicated to reaching refugees and victims of human trafficking. We’re still getting to know each other, but you can just know that this is my heartbeat.

We went around rough areas of Atlanta, handing out roses to prostitutes—women who needed to know that they were loved and valued. This is something to which I’ve dedicated my life.

Isaiah 61:1b reads, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah’s description of his calling rings so true for me. I was so excited to be in this group, fulfilling this calling, but I knew I needed to be keenly aware of the vastly different needs of the women I would meet. This reminds me of Paul’s calling in 1 Corinthians 9:22b: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Paul knew that he was called to preach the gospel to all people, but that took different shapes as God brought him to different places.

Perspectives of Memory

I’m starving! Let’s get something to eat!

These are phrases we say flippantly after a few hours without a meal.

Sitting in my fully-furnished home, drinking my electricity-produced cup of coffee, my mind wanders to distant lands, lands where children are the last to eat because the patriarchs and the matriarchs keep the family farm thriving so they must find sustenance first and because in some cultures children’s needs are not valued. There were children whose stomachs were bloated due to dysentery and malnourishment as they rummaged through my trash in Sub-Saharan Africa to find a morsel I threw away.

My thoughts stray to decaying, abandoned homes in the Middle East where sitting on floors I heard story after story of Syrian refugees who were struggling to provide meals for their families and were fearing the future of their country. Entire communities within Syria were being cut off from food supplies, and those who pursued refuge in other countries were quickly finding homelessness and hunger.

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