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By Afrika Pruitt

Revelation paints a vivid picture of Heaven’s diversity, emphasizing that people from all nations and backgrounds will be present (Revelation 7:9). As followers of Christ, we are called to share His message with people from every corner of the world. Today, with increasing globalization, refugee communities often find themselves in our very neighborhoods. Immigrant communities, just like most people, tend to stick with people of their own backgrounds, so engaging with these communities requires intentionality.

Here are five ways to engage, drawing from personal experiences.


Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of refugee stories and backgrounds. Reading books, movies, and documentaries by refugees or about diverse cultures and religions broadens your understanding and fosters empathy and compassion. Stay informed about global events, recognizing how wars and political upheavals directly influence migration patterns and the need to seek safety.

Some of the books on my shelf are:


Explore the vibrant mosaic of immigrant-owned businesses in your area. Attend festivals celebrating different countries and cultures, embracing new culinary experiences while forging connections with the people behind the counters. Whether you’re savoring a bowl of Pho in the Asian district or browsing through a Mexicana Supermercado, visiting these establishments isn’t just about trying new foods or enjoying different experiences (although I never say no to good food); it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, broaden your understanding, and build meaningful connections with members of the community.


Research local churches and nonprofits actively engaged in refugee support services. Volunteer for ESL classes or with local resettlement agencies. Local agencies can connect you with a family to help in the welcoming process or even celebrate their arrival at the airport. Many newcomers seek guidance in navigating everyday tasks like grocery shopping, exploring neighborhood parks, doctor’s appointments, or practicing English.

While offering financial aid or essential items can be impactful, it’s often advisable to channel such support through established organizations or churches to maintain healthy power dynamics within relationships. I have yet to see in my work when giving cash directly was helpful for long-term friendships.


Extend hospitality by inviting refugee families into your homes and lives, perhaps becoming the first and only American home they enter. Coming from countries known for their hospitality, many refugees will reciprocate your kindness by inviting you into their homes. Embrace the discomfort of stepping outside your comfort zone, recognizing that it mirrors refugees’ daily challenges in adjusting to a new environment. Don’t worry about minor cultural misunderstandings; most refugees have seen enough American movies to laugh off any faux pas.

One common fear I hear is the language barrier, but it presents unique opportunities to show kindness and patience. Despite linguistic differences, simple gestures like a warm smile can bridge cultural divides and foster genuine connections. Women, in particular, have a unique opportunity for ministry. While children are in school and men are at work, refugee women may feel isolated with limited English learning opportunities. Presence is a beautiful gift to share. Besides, consider it a chance to brush up on your Charades skills; you never know when to mime “emergency chai run” in a pinch!


Building trust within refugee communities takes time, given their close-knit backgrounds and often traumatic past experiences.

  • Practice active listening, providing a safe space for individuals to share their stories.
  • Be empathetic as they navigate the complexities of embracing a new homeland while mourning the lives they left behind. While some may initially find it challenging to open up, many cherish the opportunity to share their journey with a compassionate listener.

When you intentionally reach refugee communities and build relationships, don’t be surprised when you form deep, lifelong relationships with ample opportunity to share your story and faith in Jesus.

Discussion Questions:

On your social media, copy and paste the link to this blog with an answer to one of the following questions (or answer in our comment section here): 

  • Go to Google maps and search out refugee organizations or shelters in your area. What are you discovering?
  • Find a restaurant managed by immigrants or refugees. Take food photos there and post them on your social media. What did you learn as you ate at this restaurant?
  • How did helping a refugee or immigrant change your perspective?
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*Photo by The Browns 

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