Caring for the stranger at our gates
In its desire to take the gospel of God’s love to refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable foreign-born populations within its territory, in 2009 the North American Division (NAD) launched Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries (ARIM). This rapidly growing ministry is part of the division’s Multilingual Ministries Department. ARIM’s mission is to coordinate, facilitate, and expand Adventist ministries to the 3 million refugees and other least-reached and least-established language groups in the NAD. To do this, ARIM focuses primarily on (1) church planting, (2) awareness and empowerment, (3) community engagement through volunteers, (4) resource development, and (5) Adventist education.
This ministry has now grown to 156 congregations among 17 refugee language groups across the division. With increased awareness of refugees and our opportunity to reach them with the love of Jesus, many local churches, Adventist Community Services centers, conferences, union conferences, and ministries at every level of the church have taken creative steps to reach out to refugees. In connecting with Muslim refugees, ARIM collaborates closely with NAD Adventist Muslim Relations, led by Gabriela Phillips.
“Families who seek refuge from war-torn countries—whatever their religion or country of birth—are children of God created in His image. They are our brothers and sisters, and we must provide them refuge,” says NAD president Daniel R. Jackson. “As a church, we should welcome them within the North American Division and provide them with the care, respect, and help they need.”
Volunteers across the NAD have stepped out of their comfort zones and reached out to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in their home countries, and have been blessed by the friendships formed. Hundreds of refugee children have been assisted in obtaining an Adventist education, and hundreds more need this transformational opportunity.
ARIM’s key personnel are its church-planting consultants, who are native speakers of refugee languages. These consultants find displaced members who have come as refugees to North America and organize them into church plants, where they can be nurtured and serve the community. Consultants also develop resources, create networks, and plan events that train and empower the leaders and pastors of these congregations and connect them with others of like faith and languages across the division for mutual encouragement, fellowship, and training.
To learn more, visit www.refugeeministries.org or facebook.com/RefugeeImmigrantMinistries.