How Students Can Minister to Refugees
How are you engaging students to minister to refugees? Even if you don’t have a refugee community nearby, prepare your students to minister to refugees. Lead students to understand that showing kindness to people and building relationships while sharing Christ can impact your community in amazing ways. Today’s students have the potential to change the world for Christ in a powerful way!
BEGIN WITH DISCUSSION
Start by reviewing and clarifying terms related to refugees. Look at the differences in some of the definitions of the terms that are often misused or misunderstood.
- Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave his or her country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Refugees often fear persecution because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, and so on. Most refugees either can’t return home or are afraid to do so. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in history. Today there are over 65 million refugees.
- Internally displaced person: Someone who is forced to flee home for the same reasons as a refugee but who remains within his or her own country and has not crossed an international border. Internally displaced persons are not protected by international laws and don’t qualify to receive many types of aid.
- Asylum seeker: When a person leaves their home country and seeks sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum. Asylum gives seekers the right to be recognized as a refugee and to receive protection and assistance. Those who hope to receive asylum are required to prove that their fear of persecution is based in truth.
Many refugees today are either Christians fleeing persecution, Muslims who are fleeing extremist groups, or minority ethnic groups fleeing stronger ethnic groups that seek their annihilation. Many of them have had their homes burned down and family members killed. Many have lived for years in crowded refugee camps before being granted asylum in another country.
Discuss the following questions with your students:
- What are some misconceptions or myths about refugees?
- Why do some people think negatively about refugees?
- How are we as Christians to respond?
As Christians, we take God’s commands personally and seriously. Ask your students to read through the following verses and make a list of how God says we should treat foreigners:
- Isaiah 1:17
- Isaiah 58:10
- Leviticus 19:33–34
- Deuteronomy 10:18–19
- Matthew 25:25–36
OPTION 1: SERVE A GROUP OF REFUGEE CHILDREN
Find a local school or non-profit organization who assists refugee children. Offer to collect school supplies for children and find out if they have other specific needs you could provide.
Tip: Contact your Baptist associational office to see if they can direct you an organization that is assisting refugee resettlement.
Advertise what you are collecting and why. Students can make posters for your church, graphics for social media, or presentation slides to use before worship services start.
Let your students take the lead in involving the whole church or whole association of churches. This will teach them networking and partnership skills.
For one month, advertise the collection of specific supplies. In addition to collecting individual supplies, ask each family in the church to provide at least one filled backpack.
At the end of the month, arrange for the youth to pack the backpacks with the collected supplies and participate in personally delivering the backpacks to the children if allowed.
Debrief the activity afterward with your youth.
OPTION 2: ADOPT A REFUGEE FAMILY
Contact an organization or church to find a recently arrived refugee family. If your students have means, ask them to purchase the needed items themselves or everyone chip in. This will teach them the discipline of giving and sacrificing for others.
Items Needed: laundry baskets and household items to fill baskets or large decorative baskets; individually wrapped snacks or packaged foods
Put together a welcome package. Consider one of these two ideas:
A basket of fruit, nuts, and granola bars or rice, and maybe even a gift card for a fast food restaurant or grocery store. Let your students brainstorm what to collect. Remember though, if it’s a Muslim family, no pork or bacon should ever be involved.
Buy a laundry basket and fill it with household goods such as toilet paper, soap, dishwashing detergent and sponges, paper towels, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and maybe even a pretty house plant!
Have each of the youth write a note welcoming the family to your community. Deliver the basket to their house. Remember to inform the family ahead of time that you will be coming.
Debrief the activity afterward with your youth.
Kim Cruse served for 23 years in the Philippines, sharing the gospel and discipling university students and training them to go out globally to reach the nations. She and her husband, Jeff, take great delight in visiting countries around the world where those same students are now multiplying disciples. Kim and Jeff enjoy everything outdoors, from hiking and biking to scuba diving and kayaking. They are the proud humans of a little dachshund with an overinflated ego.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.