by Rita Johnson, Associate Director
Frontier Fellowship cares deeply about the world’s least-reached peoples. As crises unfold worldwide, we are moved to respond, compelled by Christ’s compassion. Despite news of the Afghan refugee crisis dwindling from the events of the summer, the needs of Afghan refugees remain pressing and prominent. How can the global Church join with others to extend welcome to those arriving with few clothes and a small carry-on bag—to be the hands, feet, ears and voices of Christ?
This will be an ongoing effort! There were between 55 and 60 thousand refugees housed at eight US military bases in September and October. Since then, some have been matched with resettlement agencies to begin a new life—others remain waiting. Additionally, tens of thousands who evacuated post-August are coming to US bases as space becomes available to complete the screening process and wait their turn to be assigned to an agency. With these and other refugees still applying for visas, the probability that the flow of arrivals will continue into 2022 is high.
This is an amazing opportunity! The vast majority of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups are least-reached peoples—many have never heard the Good News of Jesus. Globally, 87% of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists do not know a Christian personally. Among one particular ethnic group in Afghanistan, that statistic is more than 99%. Followers of Jesus in the US—and other parts of the world receiving refugees—have an opportunity to learn about the culture and beliefs of our new guests so that as spiritual topics arise, there can be a gracious and truthful conversation. When you have a relationship with someone from Central Asia (the region including Afghanistan), humble and spiritual conversations can happen fairly easily in a context of kindness and respect.
Frontier Fellowship’s team of mobilizers can provide coaching and assistance to help bridge gaps between people of diverse cultures and faith backgrounds. There are many ways to respond to refugees in loving kindness. Below you’ll find a list of ideas for ways to help you and your community give of your time, talents and resources to better welcome and serve refugees across the street and around the world. In addition to the list below, would you pray for refugees and displaced peoples? Pray that God would bring stability and peace to the lives of so many who have experienced tumult and violence. Ask God to surround them with loving neighbors who will extend care in word and deed.
WAYS TO SUPPORT AFGHAN REFUGEES:
- Volunteer opportunities are widely available and vary by location. If there is a refugee resettlement center within 20-50 miles of your church, there might be opportunities to volunteer alongside your congregation or small group, including welcome teams to help support new families in your community. Use this link and click on your state for more information.
- Modest women’s clothing, including ankle-length skirts and dresses, can be difficult to find in stores. Those with good sewing skills might check if there is a way to provide appropriate clothing—or even help refugees to sew for themselves once they are settled.
- The most significant need that refugees face upon arrival is housing. Refugee resettlement agencies are looking for affordable housing that is near public transportation and schools to lease and then sublease to refugee families. If you have connections to such housing, contact your local refugee agency here.
- Refugees come to the US with very little. Many arrive with small children and need tangible assistance providing for their families. Financial donations and donations of new goods make a world of difference. Donation opportunities include:
- Frontier Fellowship’s Afghanistan Emergency Relief Fund: Especially if you are not near a resettlement location, there are still ways to assist in Central and South Asia—where the huge majority of Afghans still live. Examples of current efforts include basic literacy and health care for women, relief and education. Continuing these programs keep dozens of staff of our partners employed and their families fed in a time when hunger is rising.
- Contact your local refugee agency and check its website for current details and needs. As winter approaches, the needs are shifting and might pivot to cold weather clothing and shoes. Specific, new items are most helpful to organizations working with refugees. Gift cards to local stores are flexible, require no storage space and can be part of learning how to shop in the US, where store prices are non-negotiable.
- If you live around one of the eight military bases receiving refugees, contact their donations coordinator to see how to best help. There are protocols for how to give, often via a partner organization as in these examples from Indiana and Wisconsin.
Join us in praying for an extended, excellent welcome for Afghan refugees and immigrants—whether they arrived in 2010 or 2021—or will come in the future. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for prayer resources or for support in connecting with refugees in ways that bless new arrivals and honor Christ, whose example of hospitality we seek to follow.