Over the last years, we have witnessed the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The U.N. reports 1 out of 113 people on the planet are displaced.

Governments in the Middle East and Europe first felt the impact and struggled to cope with such a large influx of refugees. The US has also wrestled with their response seeking to balance concern for our safety, with compassion for the refugee. While those who govern will continue to debate how their nations should respond, we can all do something now to help.

Look back at one story you probably know. In 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Hmong, and Lao refugees fled their homeland as a communist government took control. To meet the enormous need of these families, The Alliance began CAMA Services to provide clothes, food, and shelter to refugees.

But there’s more to the story. Leading U.S. State Department officials, familiar with the work of The Alliance in Vietnam, asked if their churches and workers could help resettle refugees in the United States. Grady and Evelyn Mangham, C&MA missionaries, began doing just that through CAMA.

They made hundreds of calls to C&MA pastors requesting their help in sponsoring Vietnamese families in their communities. A recent Christianity Today article stated Alliance churches took in more than 10,000 refugees from Vietnam and other neighboring countries during that time. Soon, however, the need exceeded the capacity of CAMA and Alliance churches to handle alone.

In 1979, Grady contacted the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to request help from World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the NAE. Through this, World Relief became the first distinctly evangelical resettlement agency working with the State Department. Today World Relief remains one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies in America.

In 2017, we’re at another chapter of the story. There are millions of refugees in need. How will the evangelical church respond this time? Here are three ways you can be a part of the story:

1. Pray

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). That means we should pray before typing or speaking or acting. God hears our cries and the cries of the vulnerable. Our God will defend their cause, with or without us.

An Alliance pastor distributes supplies in Iraq

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”

(Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

But when was the last time we stopped to pray together for the “foreigner residing among” us? Do this in your small group. Do this in your churches. We recommend checking out “I Was A Stranger.” It’s a great resource you can download to help you pray Scripture over the next 40 days. You can do this by yourself, with a small group, or with your church. Our U.S. team did this together a few months ago and generated some great discussion.

2. Volunteer

Sarah with Envision volunteers in Colorado

God calls on us to love our neighbor and that includes refugees living in our communities. World Relief is one of those organizations that helps you do that. In some cases, though, World Relief will not have a site near you. We encourage you to visit wewelcomerefugees.com, a site co-sponsored by World Relief, to find a map of what resettlement agencies are working in your state or city. Usually, you can volunteer as a church group or as an individual.

3. Give

So many of you have given to CAMA’s Syrian Refugee Relief and Iraqi/Middle East Refugee Relief funds. Thank you!

You are partnering with two Alliance churches as they distribute mattresses, food, and clothing to thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan and hundreds of displaced Iraqis, including Yazidis.

Mattresses distributed through the church

But today we also want to encourage you to support organizations working in your neighborhood who sponsor and support refugees. We already highlighted the great work done by World Relief. If they have an office in your area, consider supporting them.

Here are three other US-based refugee ministries of the C&MA:
  1. A CAMA staff couple on Special Assignment is working with refugees out of the Salem Alliance Church in Oregon. The couple’s role is completely support-based. To send a donation, fill out your information at this link. Click the arrow under “Special Giving Funds.” Select “Holcomb Support” from the drop-down menu and make your donation. Read more on one of the church’s refugee ministries here.
  2. A second place to consider supporting is the work of Envision in Cleveland. Donate here.
  3. Or take a moment to watch this video on the Arab American Learning Center in CaliforniaDonate here. 
God is actively at work in the flow of humanity. We have an opportunity to join in.