20 minutes from the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the College at Southeastern is a very unique community. It is a community comprised predominantly of refugees, refugees from more than 30 countries. These are men, women, and children who have fled their home country to escape war, persecution, or violence. Many, after fleeing their home country, have lived in refugee camps on average 17 years! They are part of a select few who have been chosen for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). It is difficult for most of us to imagine ourselves in the story of a refugee. Each has truly endured trauma beyond our understanding.
Acts 17:26-27 (CSB)
From one man[a] he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
As I read Acts 17:26-27 I am reminded our refugee neighbors are not here by chance or by fate but by the sovereign will and prearrangements of our God and for the purpose that they might seek Him and find Him. How can this happen if the body of Christ does not get involved? We have a great opportunity to be present for those who are seeking God.
If you think the need is not urgent, let me share something I heard last week from a Nepalese refugee named Sam who was resettled to Louisville, Kentucky. At a very low point in his life after arriving in the US someone knocked on his door and invited him to a Bible study. It changed his life! He shared with me that the drug dealers, the gangs, and the sex traffickers are all reaching out to our refugee friends, seeing them as easy targets. Then Sam asked a very convicting question, why is the church not knocking on the doors?
Refugee Hope Partners is a local non-profit ministry that exists to glorify God by loving our refugee neighbors with the hope of the gospel. We love them by…
- Engaging families and individuals as they face cultural, practical & emotional hurdles.
- Equipping hands, minds, and souls for independence with dignity.
- Encouraging healthy relationships & spiritual growth with the hope that all will thrive.
Practically, this is played out with many points of engagement and through partnerships with other ministries and a large army of volunteers. Here are a few of the ways we currently serve our refugee neighbors…
Homework Help is the gateway of our ministry. It is where we typically meet families and students for the first time, and is the program which involves our largest pool of volunteers. During the summer we encourage our students to continue to work on their reading by our Read and Swim Program. If students come and read for 20 minutes three days a week, they are awarded a trip to the swimming pool.
+100 children from kindergarten through high school
ESL Program is designed to help our friends thrive by providing multi-level English instruction. Our goal is to make each student proficient in conversation, reading, and writing.
+45 adults in participating ESL classes.
Bible Studies are offered year-round each week for elementary, middle, and high school boys and girls. It is our desire to see all come to faith in the One that came to give us abundant life through participation in these Bible studies.
+65 students involved in weekly Bible study
Early Learning Club exists to foster intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development through exploration and enriching experiences in a warm and loving environment for children ages 3-4. Our goal is to help equip and support students for a successful entrance into kindergarten by exposing them to the structure of a classroom and English as a second language.
+30 preschoolers preparing for kindergarten
Medical Ministry aims to be an advocate for the refugees in navigating the US medical system, educate to promote better health and to equip toward independence. On occasion, services are offered onsite to make healthcare access easier.
Countless men, women and children
The Bridge is the newest program offered by Refugee Hope Partners. According to UNHCR, only 1% of refugees enroll in college or university. We desire to partner with young adults as they move toward a self-sustaining future by providing them tools to assist them in taking next steps. These tools include things such as college visits and assistance in the applications process.
+8 High School Juniors and Seniors Moving Toward Next Steps
As you can see, there are countless ways you can get involved with Refugee Hope Partners to show the love of Jesus. So the question remains, how far are you willing to go to reach the nations with the gospel? A 20- minute drive? $1.50 in gas money?
To learn more about Refugee Hope Partners, visit their website: www.refugeehopepartners.org