According to Amnesty International there are 26 million refugees worldwide, half of which are children. If we add to that the estimated 272 million international migrants, that’s a lot of people moving around. And turning up right at our doorstep!
I don’t fully understand the complexities of the immigration and refugee situations, even after volunteering in refugee camps. So it’s not my intention to discuss the pros and cons. Rather, I want to present pratical ways to reach out and help them!
All I can say is that large numbers have arrived (and many remain) in Italy. And they all come with great needs: material, financial, and emotional. So we can’t help but aske ourselves: What would God have us do?
5 ways to help immigrants and refugees
These new arrivals are in our nations because God has allowed it. So let’s try to see it as an aid to reaching out with his love and compassion! Let’s look at a few tangible, useful ways can we reach 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 or 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 are a great need. But even daytime hospitality points can help alot. It gives them a place to warm-up or cool down with coffee, tea, soup and sandwiches. Assistance with documents or a place where they can get necessities like soap and toothbrushes. Remember, Christ’s love can be seen even though a soup ladle!
3. Hold language and culture courses.
Teaching immigrants the culture and language of their new land can enable them to integrate and overcome culture shock. (Take it from me, culture shock is real, and it’s very hard.) But remember their children too. Until new arrivals learn the language, they struggle to help their children with schoolwork, so offer to tutor them. Loving their kids is a great way to win over the hearts of the parents!
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.
And last, but certainly not least, offer the only lasting and eternal hope by getting Scripture resources into their hands. Christ For All Peoples offers the Jesus Film in many languages. Faith Comes By Hearing (Bible.is) offers drammatized audio in 1471 languages plus gospel films in over 800. And Creation to Christ has downloads of their simple but great Gospel presentation videos in many languages.
Your next door neighbor?
Immigrants or refugees might live right in your neighborhood. Seek out these new neighbors from afar, and put yourself in their shoes. They probably feel scared and confused, unable to even speak the language. Reach out, meet them, and give them the helping hand you’d want if the tables were switched.
You’ll be glad you did, and likely surprised at how it can enrich your life!
Video via Gospel Frontier Missions.