Women on Mission Blog

Sharing Life: Develop a Heart for the World

people at a dinner table

Anyone who knows Charity Powell knows her heart for the world. Those who don’t know her soon learn. A world map in her office pinpoints past mission trips. Strings crisscross to photos with special meaning for each trip. As she points, Charity describes people and needs in each location—11 countries she visited in 11 months during a World Race to share Jesus and encourage believers. Tears fill her eyes as she recalls the man from Thailand who prayed 30 years for a church. She tells of Asian friends in New York City’s Jackson Heights. A bottle filled with an olive branch, rocks, a piece of a raft, and an orange heart-shaped piece of a life jacket from Greece’s Lesvos beach stands on the table underneath her map.

For a long time, refugees were not on Charity’s map. “I knew if I paid attention, I’d end up in Lesvos.” However, after helping with a refugee fund-raiser, she acknowledged, “The Lord gave me feet to go.”

Embrace the Nations as Your Neighbors: Help Refugees Dream Again

woman grocery shopping

My favorite grocery store remodeled recently to my frustration. Imagine your first visit to an American grocery store after spending several years in a refugee camp. Add in a language barrier, and a task we take for granted can be overwhelming.

Refugees entering the United States come seeking housing, schools, jobs, and community. Displaced by violence and persecution, most refugees lost belongings and even family members to arrive in crowded camps with limited resources and then wait up to 10 years before resettling in a receiving country. Fear of the unknown often accompanies relocation to the US, increasing stress and often leading to anxiety disorders—including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—may surface within a few months of arrival in their new home. Refugees may have suffered a loss of self-esteem and the ability to dream, and many are living in survival mode.

Tell Me about Your Country: 4 Ways to Help Refugees Feel Loved and Welcomed

Asian boy at laptop

Kelsey Smith has met a lot of refugees, but she remembers 1 boy in particular. “He was 14, fresh off the plane from his country of asylum, spoke almost no English, and no one else in the program spoke his language,” said Kelsey, who works with a nonprofit organization that helps refugees begin to build a life in the United States. “He appeared tired, dispirited, and completely uninterested in participating in our activities.” She couldn’t figure out how to connect with him.

Then 1 day, Kelsey walked by the computer lab and saw that he was using Google Earth to look at his home country. “I sat down beside him and used gestures and simple words to ask him questions about his country, and that was the happiest I’d ever seen him,” she said. “His face lit up as he used what few words he had to tell me about his home.”

Reaching out to refugees is important—and making them feel at home is vital, Kelsey said. She offered several ways to interact with refugees to make them feel loved and welcomed in their new country:

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

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?

Tags: 

We All Need Redemption sidebar

Pastor David Tarkington shared this additional advice and resources about gender-identity issues as a supplement to the article on page 24 of December 2017 Missions Mosaic.

As parents of children with gender-identity issues, remember

  1. It’s not your fault. I emphasize this reality to Christian parents who have done the very best they knew how to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
  2. To trust God. He loves your child more than you ever have or can.
  3. To love your child. This may be the most challenging aspect of the journey. Remember that loving your child does not mean affirming sin.
  4. Prayer is vital.
  5. God is good. God is great. He is not taken by surprise, though you were. Trust Him.

Remember God knows grief and will stay in the valley with you until you make it through.

Resources

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

Plan a Prayer for the Nations Night

Antarctica. That was what was printed on the folded-up sheet of paper I pulled from the cup on a small-group retreat once, and we all had a good laugh.

The 7 of us had each drawn a continent to pray for, and that was mine. But as we began to talk about it, we brainstormed who that could be. We talked about the scientists there who might not know Christ. We moved on to people in cold places in other parts of the world—Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland, and so on. We went in a circle for quite some time, and when it got around to me, I lifted them all up.

That might not have been the most conventional way to pray for the lost around the world, but it’s one I haven’t forgotten even years later. And I think that tactic, while unusual, accomplished something. It made me remember those people. I still pray for them when Antarctica gets mentioned in conversation or in a movie. I still remember the people in all the cold places of the world.

Love on Display: Showing Christ to refugees is multifaceted

How can you be a friend and care for someone who misses her family and is concerned for her well-being? How do you respond to a young girl who shows you her good grades and tells you she dreams of becoming a doctor? What do you do when you are served a delicious meal or cup of tea? Instead of reacting the same way for each of these scenarios, you find an appropriate response that indicates you share that person’s concern and sadness. You express how proud you are of the child’s accomplishments or thank your host for her hospitality. When you respond to refugees, you can also look for ways to show compassion, share in their joy, and show your appreciation.

Tags: 

Peace after Turmoil: Sudanese refugee believes the gospel

For decades, Ridick would feel the struggle of war on the outside—and war on the inside.

Rebel fighting was tearing his home country, Sudan, apart at the seams when he was in high school in the ’80s. He tried to put his mind to his studies, but it wasn’t long before he was being asked to join the war.

“I witnessed my friends being taken at night—they were taken to be trained to fight,” Ridick said. “All the roads at that time were blocked, and people were hungry—there was no food.”

So he finally decided he had to get out of that place. He sneaked onto a truck convoy and started the 100-mile trip to the next-closest city. It was a trip plagued with gunfire and attacks. And it was the beginning of a journey that would last for years.

“It was a rough road,” Ridick said.

He crossed the border into Uganda, joining his brother who had also escaped and was living with an uncle. After a month, the uncle died, and the brothers set off for a refugee camp in Kenya, where they lived for nearly a year. But it wasn’t peaceful there.

Tags: 

Pages

Back to Top