Reaching Out to Refugees Through English in the Park
Psalm 67:1-3 says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among the nations. Let the peoples praise you!" (ESV)
For a long time, and still today, the church has been sending people all over the globe to engage with the nations in the name of Christ. But we are now seeing that God is sending the nations to us! There is still a need for people to be obedient to going to places where no one else will go, but we also need people to engage right where they are. For 40 years, Louisville has been a place that has welcomed refugees from all over the world. For the past few years, whether in my role as a Middle School Pastor or in my current position as a Community Pastor, I continue to see the churches in our city rise up and engage these refugees.
For me personally, it all began just a few years ago when I took some adult leaders from our Middle School Ministry on a local serving trip with Refuge Louisville. We had the opportunity to do some home visits with refugee families in the Maplewood Apartments off of Fegenbush Lane in the Buechel area. This was the first time many of us on the trip had interacted with people in our city who had come from other parts of the world to seek safety in the United States. It was during that weekend that I believe God began to open our hearts and eyes to see people the way He does. As that weekend ended, a few of us decided we wanted to continue to build relationships in that particular apartment complex.
After months of prayer, we realized that the most natural step for us to engage those in the Maplewood Apartments would be to serve at English in the Park. This event was something that we were able to participate in during our serving trip with Refuge Louisville. We bonded with some of the refugee families that had attended and we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to be present in that community and to deepen our relationships with those families.
For three years now, a few families from Southeast Christian Church have set up tables and chairs in a park area in that community each week. We use teaching English and playing games with the children as an entry way to truly get to know these families. Throughout this time it has been a joy and blessing to be able to know the stories of these men, women, and children.
There are three ways the church can join in on this mission to reach the refugees in our city:
Pray. Our prayers matter! Seeking the Lord about this crisis is a huge part of responding to what is happening as people are being displaced and being moved all over the world. Pray that our refugee friends would have openness to hearing and receiving the Gospel.
Engage. Join with what God is doing in our city! Refuge Louisville is helping mobilize the church to receive, welcome, and engage with refugees all throughout the city! For more information, check out refugelouisville.com. Or come hang out with us on Sunday afternoons at the Maplewood Apartments! For more details about when we meet, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul says, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well.” (NIV)
Paul is sharing that when he came to the church in Thessalonica, he not only shared about the saving power of the Gospel, but he shared his life with those there. I believe we have a great opportunity to share our lives with the people in our city who have come from some tragic circumstances. These people who have become friends to us must hear about the saving power of Jesus, but I believe they also must have someone to share their lives with. As we share the Gospel and our lives with those are being placed here in Louisville, may they know of the saving power of Jesus Christ!