“Some of our refugee neighbors are family in Christ who have endured persecution. Others do not know God, and the hardship they’ve endured — unspeakable as it is — pales in comparison to their eternal future if they remain separated from Christ.”
As I surveyed my table at our church’s Mother’s Day tea, I noticed a striking display of God’s kindness and grace. Three of my Burmese sisters enthusiastically joined the singing of old hymns while Muslim friends from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan ate chocolate-covered strawberries as words of life were shared.
These women are among half a million refugees who have resettled across America over the past ten years (“Source”). Some of our refugee neighbors are family in Christ who have endured persecution. Others do not know God, and the hardship they’ve endured — unspeakable as it is — pales in comparison to their eternal future if they remain separated from Christ.
This influx of refugees provides an astounding opportunity to reach the nations — especially for women. Many refugee women are homemakers and stay-at-home moms. While husbands work and children attend school, their isolation compounds their struggles. They grieve the deaths of loved ones, mourn homes left in ash heaps, and endure flashbacks of horror. As they suffer the loss of old relationships, they long for new ones.
When Christian women befriend refugee women, they build bridges across cultural barriers where “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). Sisters, God has opened the door for us to reach the nations in our neighborhoods. Consider three ways we can join God in his mission: Seek your neighbors. Show God’s kindness. Speak the gospel.
Seek Your Neighbors
Our Father loves with a pursuing and steadfast love. As his children, we are called to be imitators of him (Ephesians 5:1). Through seeking refugees, we demonstrate the love of the Savior who “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
When we find refugee neighbors dwelling nearby, we can welcome them into our lives and invite ourselves into theirs. Many refugee women come from cultures that value hospitality and community in a way that makes our individualistic society squirm. They are typically receptive to those who reach out their hands in friendship. When I began visiting one Syrian woman to help her learn English while our children played together, it took only a couple months before she called me her sister and my family her family.
Of course, outreach to refugees is not all roses without thorns. There are language barriers to overcome and cultural differences to navigate — we will likely cause offense or find ourselves inconvenienced because of miscommunications. But God, who loved us even when we were his enemies (Romans 5:8), can enable us to love our refugee neighbors — even when it’s difficult.
Show God’s Kindness
God’s compassion encompasses our eternal souls and our earthly circumstances. He cares when his image bearers suffer at the hands of evil. He walks alongside the widow, the orphan, and the stranger (Psalm 68:5). When we devote ourselves to good works among the suffering, we testify to the kindness of God.