It’s easy to talk about how we’d react if a refugee or immigrant family moved down the street. And sometimes, by God’s providence, that happens. If that happens in your neighborhood, grab hold of that opportunity and don’t let go.
But that isn’t guaranteed to happen. Most Americans slip into living in neighborhoods of people with similar jobs, incomes, or backgrounds. We go to the stores where “people like us” shop. We put our children into the schools where “people like us” put their kids.
To welcome and love people who are different from us, we need to intentionally seek out those people. We may not need to cross an ocean, but we might need to change where we buy milk or where we spend our Sunday afternoons.
Growing in Going
After Pentecost, the early church grew explosively in Jerusalem for several months. Thousands were saved. Despite persecution and conflicts, the church was flourishing.
But God had bigger plans for his church. Through a wave of intense persecution, he sent Christians out into other communities. Here’s how Luke describes this in Acts 8:3-4: “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
Because of that scattering, Philip went out to Samaria, followed by Peter and John. People heard the gospel for the first time. The church grew. And, as Luke writes in Acts 8:8, “there was much joy in that city.”
Where Will You Look?
Your church is likely not experiencing fierce persecution right now. Your neighborhood, schools, and grocery stores might be quite comfortable. But God often uses us as we step out of our familiar, Christian-saturated spaces to reach out to others.
We can envision looking for opportunities like looking for the first robin of spring or for an update to our favorite app—keeping our eyes open as we go about our usual business. But consider how Jesus sought us when we were lost. He didn’t sit back and wait for us to wander across his line of sight; he came to earth to redeem us. Proactively looking for opportunities should look like a breadwinner looking for a job or a kid playing hide-and-seek—active, intentional, and persistent.
What comfortable spaces do you need to step out of as you look for opportunities to love and welcome people who are different from you? Where can you go to look for opportunities to share God’s story?
Here are some steps you can take today to build relationship with refugees in your city or town:
- Email your local refugee resettlement organization. If you’re not sure how to reach out, you can start by checking if there is a local branch of World Relief or CWS.
- Ask your pastor about ways your church is reaching out or about other local options for outreach.
- Contact your local schools about opportunities for outreach, such as tutoring or ESL programs.
- Build relationships as you explore your stories and God’s story with Life As We Know It, a Spread Truth tool designed to take you deeper into the lives of your neighbors, friends, family, and beyond.
- Pray. Ask God to guide your efforts and help you to love people in a way that reflects God’s perfect love.