How to Help Immigrants and Refugees

Being an immigrant myself this topic is close to my heart. I cannot fully relate to refugees or economic immigrants. I did not move out of personal need, but for ministry. Plus I have dual citizenship. But I understand moving to an unfamiliar country. And we have also worked with refugees here. Even adopting unofficially a young Nigerian woman and her baby.

We are a family of migrants

My husband and our children are 2-time immigrants. Hubby moved to the USA as a child and moved back to Italy as an adult. Our kids have been through the same process, but in reverse.

I understand their struggles and the culture shock. The difficulty of adjusting and adapting. So I cannot help but reach out to them.

Many of the immigrants are young. In them, I see my son and daughter, both of whom moved back to the states at age 17. I often wondered if people were looking out for them and lending a hand. That was my constant prayer.

So I reach out to them with a bag of food, a cup of coffee, a winter coat. Help with documents, finding a place to stay. By helping them, I am in my heart helping my children when they were first out on their own. But I also do it to reach out with God’s love.

You will regard the alien who resides with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:34 CSB

According to statistics there are currently 26 million refugees worldwide. Half of them are children. Add the estimated 272 million international migrants, and that’s a lot of people on the move.

Large numbers have arrived in Italy, and many remain. They all come with extensive needs: material, financial, and emotional. Many of them literally turn up at an on our doorstep. And likely on yours, or in your neighborhood.

I don’t claim to understand all the implications. Or to know the best solutions. But I know that God wants us to love them. To love them as one of our own.

Each one is someone’s child, parent, or spouse. Someone, somewhere is likely praying for them. And we could be the answer to those prayers!

5 ways to help immigrants and refugees

These new arrivals are in our nation because God has allowed them. Therefore, let’s see it as a tool to spread his love and compassion! Check out these tangible, useful ways of reaching out.

1. Offer food, clothing, blankets, bikes, etc.

Even one person or family can do much in this regard. Many of us can afford to buy a bag of groceries or some clothing. A lot of us also have overflowing garages, attics, and closets. So offer some of your gently-used items to families or centers in your area. Things like clothing, bedding, furniture, and even bicycles!

2. Open hospitality centers

Overnight centers fill a critical need. But even daytime hospitality points can help a lot. It gives people a place to warm up or cool down with coffee, tea, soup and sandwiches. Help with documents or a place to get necessities like soap and toothbrushes. Remember, we can show Christ’s love even with a soup ladle!

3. Hold language and culture courses

Teaching immigrants the culture and language of their adopted land helps them integrate. And overcome culture shock. And take it from me: culture shock is real and challenging. Care for their children too. Parents will struggle to help them with schoolwork. So offer tutoring services. One key to winning over parents is to love on their kids!

4. Be their friend and restore their sense of dignity

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts we can give. So don’t just treat them like a charity project, but befriend them. Help them regain confidence and see themselves as the persons of worth and dignity that they are. Also help them get any necessary counseling for PTSD or other difficulties they may have.

5. Get Bible resources into their hands

Finally, offer the only lasting and eternal hope. Provide Scripture resources. Christ For All Peoples offers the Jesus Film in many languages. Faith Comes By Hearing (Bible.is) has dramatized audio Bibles in 1471 languages. And gospel films in over 800 languages. Creation to Christ provides free downloads of engaging Gospel videos in many languages.

Your next door neighbor?

Immigrants or refugees might live right in your neighborhood. Seek out your new neighbors-from-afar, and put yourself in their shoes. They feel scared and confused, unable to speak the language. Reach out, meet them, and give them the helping hand you would want if in their shoes.

You’ll be glad you did, and likely surprised at how it enriches your life!

Video via Gospel Frontier Missions.

Image: Men studying by Guvo59 | Blankets by StockSnap | Sandwiches by photosforyou | Blackboard words by BiljaST | Bible ©SignoraSheila.

2 thoughts on “How to Help Immigrants and Refugees

  1. Great post and we have seen it in action in our home city with Nepali refugees. We came to love the people and their tea. Their food is an acquired taste but their hearts are precious. It also doesn’t hurt to learn a bit of their language. It brought laughter at my attempts and helped to make us friends.

    Like

    1. That’s great, Pastor Pete! And that’s what we’ve learned too. It takes so little to start a friendship with them. Trying to learn their language and appreciate their culture are probably two of the most important things. We’ve learned that those simple acts make them feel seen, heard, and worthy. Which is a great, but simple, gift to give another! And in turn we are greatly enriched!

      Liked by 1 person

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