Make a Difference
Prayerfully study the Great Commission and the inspired counsels on the "heaven-sent opportunity" to reach out to "The Stranger in Our Midst" --people from other nations.
Get acquainted with refugees and immigrants near your church. "It is acquaintence that awakens sympathy, and sympathy is the spring of effective ministry." Education p. 262
Check the "Restaurant" and "Grocery" sections of your local phone directory to see what ethnic foods are available in your area. This is one indicator of specific ethnic populations in your area.
Pray that God will guide you to the people He has sent here for you to introduce to Him.
Talk to people you meet in local grocery and department stores and apartment complexes who look like they may be from another country. If they are fluent in English, ask if they are bilingual, then ask what languages they speak. If they are not fluent in English, ask if they know another language. Be a friend. Ask what it is like being in this country. Ask what is hard about life in this country. Help them learn English. Learn a greeting in their language. Learn how to say “Thank you” in their language. Exchange contact information if they seem comfortable. Stay in touch. Invite them to your home for a meal. Ask about their culture. Ask about family—here and abroad. Imagine what life must be like for them. Show that you care. Ask if there is anything they need. Meet that need to the best of your ability. Invite them to church. Offer to take them. (They may not have transportation.) Use the phrases you learn in their language to greet others who speak the same language.
As God leads, share with the church what you are learning and doing. Ask them to pray with you for the unreached refugees and immigrants in your area. As your refugee/immigrant friends begin coming to church with you, introduce them to your friends at church. These connections are crucial. Remember the following counsel, and let God lead.
Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, "Follow Me."--MH 143.
With your Friends
Contact a local College or University and find out if they have foreign exchange students and, if so, from which countries. Imagine yourself in their situation, often with no transportation, and few, if any, American friends. Be a friend. Invite them to join you for special events and holidays. Provide transportation. Take them shopping. Ask them about their country.
When you find refugees, immigrants, or visitors from other cultures, tell your church about them. Ask your church to pray for a way to reach out to them.
Help children with homework.
Play with the children and find and plan constructive and educational activities for them. (Take a child by the hand, and you take the parent by the heart.)
Provide music lessons for the children. Help them find an instrument.
Offer to help them learn to drive, study for their citizenship test, etc.
Picture yourself in their situation, and ask God for wisdom to anticipate their needs.
Ask them what their needs are.
As a Church
Pray for that God will lead you to some of His “guests” from other countries.
Watch for unexpected guests at your church who seem shy and may not be fluent in English. Get to know them. Ask where they are from, how long they have been in America, and where they live. Be creative. Use “sign language” or paper and pencil. Find a way to communicate. (Where there is a will, there is a way!)
Visit the guests from other countries who visit your church (even if you are not the pastor). Their hearts will be warmed to know someone cares.
Invite them to give a special music, read a scripture, or pray in their language. Involve them.
If no refugees or immigrants are visiting your church, go out and find them!
Invite them to your community services center.
Organize ESL Classes and/or tutoring for refugees within walking distance from their homes. (Contact NAD for resources.)
When a few refugees begin to come to church:
Provide transportation to those who would like to attend but cannot.
Provide Bibles, Sabbath School lessons, and other materials in their language. (See refugeeministries.org for resources, or contact Terri Saelee, coordinator of Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries in the North American Division).
Provide a room for them to study the Sabbath School lesson together in their language.
Ask what they need. Prayerfully find ways to help. Remember God has a special love for refugees and often works unusual miracles in their behalf. (See the book of Exodus.)
Help their children to be able to attend Adventist schools.
Tell your local conference, and North American Division Refugee and Immigrant Ministries about them so you can receive updates and additional resources as they become available.
As the group grows:
Appoint, or ask them to appoint, a representative of their group to be on their church board. Give the representative some time at each board meeting to give an update of the progress, needs, and challenges the group is facing.
Keep dialogue open with the representative as well and other members as their group grows and the needs change.
Expedite membership transfers to show your eagerness to have them in your church.
Invite an Adventist pastor to speak to them in their own language and help them organize their group to function more effectively. (Contact ARIM for details.)
Watch for the time when they will need a time and place to conduct full worship services in their language. Facilitate their search.
Spawn a church plant. Enjoy the fellowship of these precious, gentle brothers and sisters in Christ, but don’t discourage them from launching out on their own as a separate and distinct congregation so that they can more effectively reach unreached people of their language group.
As a Conference
Research refugee demographics in your conference.
Identify refugee and immigrant populations in your conference.
Identify volunteers who may already be working with refugees.
Assist refugee and immigrant members in resolving Sabbath work issues. (Be proactive. They may be too shy to ask.)
Establish a refugee advisory to meet at least quarterly.
If there are no Refugees in Your Area . . .
Pray for refugees and let ARIM (Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries) know that you are praying
That God will put refugees in touch with caring Adventists near their homes.
That God will impress our members, who live near refugees, to reach out unselfishly to our refugee brothers and sisters.
Sponsor refugee children to attend an Adventist School.
Help sponsor trained refugee pastors to organize refugee congregations where refugees can worship in a language they can understand and learn how to reach out to other refugees who have not yet heard the Everlasting Gospel.
Donate to provide funds to print and send Bible Studies, Sabbath School lessons quarterlies and other materials in refugee languages, to isolated refugees and immigrants.
Volunteer. No matter what you like to do, your skills can probably be a blessing to refugees, even at a distance.