WorldCrafts is committed to help refugees by partnering with refugee artisan groups around the world. Several WorldCrafts staff members recently visited with the artisans of Begin Anew Refugee Artisan Group south of Nashville. This WorldCrafts artisan group is made up of women who are refugees from the Congo and Myanmar. Although we don’t speak the same oral language, as mothers and women we discovered we share the language of the heart.
One new artisan, Thee, particularly touched our hearts. After several unsuccessful attempts at screen printing, she pulled up a screen to see a perfect design below. Thee beamed at us and began saying the same words over and over, gesturing with her hands. Gloria, a fellow refugee, explained to us what Thee was communicating. There are no comparable words in English, but in essence she was saying “Big Thank You! Big, Big Thank You!” Hugs, laughter and joy erupted around the table.
Later, the artisans’ children joined us for lunch. As we sat around the table eating lunch together, I observed my new friends caring for and loving on their children. And, I thought how similar we are in spirit. After a short while a dam seemed to burst as one and then another began sharing their stories. Weeping, they whispered the horrors and cruelty they had experienced in their homelands. Abandoned by their families and neighbors, they had been left to the mercy of the army as it came through. And, I thought how different our lives have been, simply by virtue of our birthplace.
Our sharing ended with spoken and silent prayers and expressions of love and care.
We went Nashville to teach the refugees, and instead they taught us. We went to bring blessings to them, and instead they blessed us.
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Our Father instructs us that we are to help those who are helpless and to offer hope to those without hope. He tells us to love them as He loves them. Have you wondered what you can do to bring relief and hope to the refugees among us? Here are 6 practical ways you can help refugees:
According to UNHCR, every day, more than 28,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. Refugees are the most vulnerable people around the world. The most important thing you can do is pray for them. Pray for refugees’ protection. Pray that they can be relocated in areas of safety and acceptance. Pray that refugee children will not lose too many years of educational opportunities. Ask the Lord to bring refugees into your community, giving you the opportunity to take His name and His glory to the nations. Pray that your faith community will have tender hearts and hands to help these most vulnerable among us.
2. Use Your Skills and Strengths
Refugees often lack resources to meet their most basic needs. Think about your specific skills and strengths. Ask the Lord to guide you in ways to use those skills to meet their needs. Do you have a medical or dental background? Partner with other healthcare professionals and organize a health care day for refugees at your church. Do you have a background in education? Consider teaching English as a second language or providing daycare for refugees’ children. Do you have the gift of administration? Help refugees walk through the banking process and guide them in budgeting their resources. Whatever your strengths, the Lord is pleased when you use them to help the least of these.
3. Practice Hospitality
Refugees are often isolated and lonely. Invite refugees to join your family for holidays. Build your own international understanding by asking your refugee neighbors to share the traditions of their homelands. Explain why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and Independence Day. For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, affirm their commitment to holistically caring for their children in safe, healthy environments. And, of course, share your own words of eternal hope as you explain why we celebrate Christmas and Easter.
4. Assist with Everyday Affairs
Refugees are often re-traumatized as they try to enter into a new culture. The healthcare system, educational system, government regulatory agencies, and even grocery stories may seem like impossible labyrinths for them. Partner with local social agencies or churches to learn of the needs of refugees in your area. Offer them rides to the different agencies they need to visit. Help them purchase groceries. Become an advocate for refugee children in your local school system.
5. Employ a Refugee
Many refugees desire to work, but don’t know where to begin looking for employment. Are you a small business owner? Think of ways that you can provide a life-sustaining income for refugees in your community. Providing a refugee the opportunity to earn an income restores a sense of dignity and hope for the future.
6. Support Refugees with Your Purchases
Refugees rely on our support. Contact local businesses to learn who employs refugees. Shop with those companies who do. Spread the word in your community. Encourage others to spend their money with organizations who are committed to providing relief for refugees.
Our Commitment to Refugees
WorldCrafts is thankful for the opportunity to partner with the Begin Anew Refugee Artisan Group in Nashville. Our artisans there create the beautiful Psalm 42:5 Bag and the Micah 6:8 Keychain. When you purchase items made by Begin Anew, you offer hope to these refugees and artisans around the world. You can shop with integrity through fair trade purchases that provide sustainable living wages to global artisans, enabling them to care for their families and their communities.
Tote your books and belongings in the Psalm 42:5 Bag and give witness to the world that your hope rests in God alone.
Carry the Micah 6:8 Keychain as a prayer reminder. Use it as a conversation starter about the plight of refugees around the world and our responsibility to help care for them.