REFUGEES & Reaching the nations from a small Georgia town.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I took my first-year DMin students to “the most diverse square mile in America” (Clarkston, GA) to learn first-hand from my colleague Brian Bollinger and Friends of Refugees. Here is an article about what another church is doing in the area.

“Reaching the nations from a small Georgia town” by NAMB staff, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/8/18

More than 1,000 refugees come to Clarkston, Ga., each year.

Send Relief missionaries Trent and Elizabeth DeLoach and the believers at Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC) have made it their mission to help these men, women and children feel not only welcome but at home in their new country.

A U.S. refugee resettlement program in the 1990s opened the door of opportunity for people from around the world to start a new life in Clarkston.

This suburb of Atlanta eventually became known as “the most diverse square mile in America.” More than 60 countries and 100-plus languages are represented, and the population continues to grow.

A place so rich in culture is exactly the kind of city the DeLoach family dreamed of finding—however it was hard to believe such a place existed in North America, especially in Trent’s home state of Georgia…

After they married, the DeLoaches moved to Kentucky to work with a church in Louisville. They were astonished that more than 5,000 Bosnian refugees lived in the area.

They started “restaurant hopping” and praying for connections. “The different cultures, religions, languages—it was all very intimidating,” DeLoach said.

Over the course of two years, Elizabeth’s influence and passion for those forcibly displaced from their homelands slowly affected her husband’s heart…

We have people [in the city] from different religious backgrounds that include Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. Most refugees have significant physical and emotional needs. They need Christian friends who can share the love of Jesus while helping them transition to life in America..,”

By living next door to families with diverse cultural backgrounds, Elizabeth says they have opportunities to influence the nations.

“We share with our people a three-step process — learn a name, make a friend, share Jesus. It’s simple. That’s our dream. And we see God bringing the nations to us.”

Read more at …

REFUGEES & Aren’t sure what to say? A helpful option by Brian Bollinger

Do you get the feeling that the refugee program isn’t a national security risk, but aren’t sure what to say?

(Portrait of Anne Frank, age 12, learning at the Montessori school in Amsterdam.)
-Courtesy Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

In 1941 the Frank family applied to flee the Nazis to the United States. Instead, US Consular Service Chief Wilbur Carr reported to Congress that refugees of the war in Europe were “filthy, un-American, and often dangerous in their habits…lacking any conception of patriotism or national spirit.” As a result of this fear-based response, the refugee child Anne Frank was turned away by the American people.
She died at the hands of the murderous Nazi regime.

Competent Compassion
in Refugee Resettlement

As the American government pursues solutions to keep our nation safe and secure, it should look to the US Refugee Resettlement Program as its paragon. Rather than being a security risk, it is the very model of an immigration system that works, and has done so for a long time.

The facts are irrefutable. There are many kinds of immigration today (tech visas, undocumented, asylum seekers, tourism, etc), and much brokenness in all those systems. No one vetted through the existing refugee program has ever committed a lethal terrorist act in the US, since it was built in 1980. The Boston Bombers came on tourism visas, the San Bernardino terrorist on a fiancee visa, the list goes on. Simply put: the refugee program is not broken; it is a model for safety, security and success.

Migrants who have crossed into Europe are not eligible to ever become refugees in America. These are completely separate systems. But the refugee program in particular is fantastically successful and it is a wise choice to support it if we want a safe and secure nation. Safety and Compassion are working hand-in-hand here!

Here are a few things to consider about the US refugee resettlement system as it exists today:

  • The refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose to enter the US. Of the nearly one million refugees accepted for resettlement since September 11, 2001, fewer than a ten have gotten in serious trouble with the law over links to terrorism. National security professionals labor daily to improve the process. Are Refugees a Threat?

How many refugees have plotted against the US?

  • World Relief’s CEO Tim Breem wisely notes that “We live in a dangerous world and it is right that we take security seriously. The American people are rightly asking for transparency on the measures taken to safeguard our homeland. However, World Relief does not believe compassion and security have to be mutually exclusive. While it is wise to always work to increase effectiveness, a lengthy and complete ban is not necessary to meet our commitment to security, transparency and compassion.” Here’s just the non-classified parts of the refugee vetting process:


Our partners at World Relief put it very well: “Throughout the Bible, we are repeatedly told that God loves and cares for foreigners, and that he expects his people to do so. Also, Jesus himself was a refugee, forced to flee the genocidal government of King Herod, and He says that when we welcome a stranger, we welcome Him. ‘The Lord watches over the foreigner, and sustains the fatherless and the widow’ (Psalm 146:9 NIV). Refugees are uniquely vulnerable individuals who have fled persecution. Our Biblical faith compels us to respond to their plight with compassion and hospitality.”

When we are friends to refugees, we are not only doing good, we are actively creating the safety and national security we desire.

In short, we agree wholeheartedly with the assertion that no one who poses a danger to the safety of a community should be given refugee status. But we also argue that the professional law-enforcement officials and our federal security and intelligence officials have created a refugee resettlement protocol in the United States that comprises the most secure vetting process in history. It does effectively ensure that only those truly vulnerable and at risk are welcomed. With the system as it stands, and the continuous improvements our intelligence professionals deliver, it will continue to do a sound job of preventing access to our communities by those who wish it harm.

Our president wants citizens to know he values security and safety. We want that too, and so should everyone. But we also know from facts and performance, that our state and national security officials are delivering on that security. And while we welcome further improvements to that system, suspending it is unnecessary to do so. There are many ways to be competent in our compassion, but that pursuit must be from a heart that, with total integrity, seeks the best for refugees and our communities together; to that we are committed. That is what God requires of us as his followers.

Let God’s Word be the source of a sound theology of immigration. Here’s a link to a toolkit with 40 verses on the subject.

If this knowledge has been valuable to you, will you share it with a friend or someone of influence? There is a lot of confusion about the refugee program, and you can be part of sharing the story of what makes communities flourish.


REFUGEES & Frequently Asked Questions

What is a refugee?

Refugees are people who have fled their country because it is no longer safe. A refugee is defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention as someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality.”

How many refugees are in the world today?

According to the 2014 Global Trends data published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the end of 2014, 59.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This 2014 data is 8.3 million persons more than the year before (51.2 million) and the highest annual increase in a single year. Of the 59.5 million forcibly displaced, 38 million have been uprooted within their own countries, and 21 million are refugees and asylum seekers.

How long do refugees live in refugee camps?

Stays can vary from 1 month to 20 years. Refugees stay in a camp until they are able to return safely to their homes (repatriation) or until the UNHCR decides to resettle them permanently in another country. This decision is sometimes reached only after a generation living in refugee camps. Currently, there are actually more refugees living in urban settings than in camps.

Do refugees come here speaking English?

Some refugees learned English in their home countries before they were displaced, and some had access to some English education in the refugee camps. While some arrivals are fluent English speakers, others have had few opportunities to learn it, although they may speak many other languages.

Do refugees come here with an education or job skills?

Some refugees were highly educated working professionals before they were displaced, while others have been essentially warehoused in refugee camps for most of their life and were unable to work. Some camps provide good educational opportunities for the children, and others do not.

Do refugees get to decide where they want to go?

No. They could be sent to any of the 28 countries which resettle refugees. They can turn down a resettlement placement, but would then have to wait again for another option elsewhere.

What countries did the refugees come from?

In the last two decades, Grand Forks has become home to refugees from Bosnia, Burundi, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. Currently most arrivals to Grand Forks are coming from Bhutan and Somalia.

Read more at …


REFUGEES & Churches Twice as Likely to Fear Refugees Than Help Them

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This summer my Doctor of Ministry students will visit churches in Atlanta working with “Friends of Refugees,” hearing from the executive director of that organization. Working with refugees is not only a biblically mandated responsibility of the Church, but also relatively easy to undertake. According to this article most churches let their lack of knowledge and/or worries prevent them from undertaking this important task.”

By Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, 3/2/16.

When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.

Most pastors say Christians should lend a hand to refugees and foreigners, and believe caring for refugees is a privilege.

Church fear refugees

But pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees as they are to help them.

“Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet many admit their church is not involved in such ministry.”

Among other findings:

  • Almost all pastors (98 percent) believe they are at least somewhat informed about the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Many pastors have not discussed or heard about ways to help refugees locally (72 percent) or overseas (63 percent).
  • About 1 in 10 churches (9 percent) has decided not to help refugees locally. Seven percent have decided not to help refugees overseas.
  • Pastors are twice as likely to say their churches are helping refugees overseas (19 percent) as locally (8 percent.)
  • Pastors are four times more likely to say Christians should care for refugees (86 percent) than to say their church is helping refugees overseas (19 percent).
  • Churches are most likely to help refugees by giving money to relief organizations or praying (19 percent each). Fewer churches volunteer to help refugees locally (7 percent) or sponsor individual refugees (5 percent.)

Read more at …