Loving Our New Afghan Neighbors
The process of hundreds (maybe thousands) of Afghan refugees coming to the DC area has begun. Various settlement agencies are providing apartments, furniture and food for newcomers. While we may supplement their efforts, we are not seeking to duplicate them.
In Jesus’ earthly ministry He addressed both physical and spiritual needs. Similarly, the vision of this friendship initiative is to love our new neighbors by meeting earthly needs like advice or hands on help, as well as meeting spiritual needs through prayer and sharing the gospel.*
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THOSE BEFRIENDING A FAMILY?
You will be connected with a family in hopes that you love them as yourself. Each family’s needs will be difficult to predict. However, some of the ways you may love them are:
· welcoming them in person if possible
· helping them learn to shop
· occasionally providing transportation
· praying for/with them
· taking them to the DMV
· explaining American culture
· explaining phone plans
· sharing the gospel with them*
Once you have met them, you may decide to help with other practicals: finances, furniture etc. This is at your discretion. But try to confirm whether or not their settlement agency is in the midst of helping with this already. You will define the relationship with this family. You may have to draw boundaries and should manage their expectations, perhaps at times gently reminding them of the distinction between you and their settlement agency. However...
Please count the cost of being Christ’s ambassador. We want to introduce these dear people to friendships that will last way beyond when their story disappears from the news cycle. Many may be tempted to feel left behind by our government. May they not feel left behind by Christians as well.
WHAT IS NOT EXPECTED OF THOSE BEFRIENDING A FAMILY
We will not be dictating what you do as you befriend your new neighbors, nor will we communicate much to them beyond introducing you as American friends they can talk to. Additionally, you will not be expected to provide money, furniture or anything like that. However, as their friends you may desire to bless them with the like. That is your decision. If there are needs that you cannot yourself afford, we may be able to help.
ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS?
If you mainly desire to provide physical needs, or if your concerns about the vaccination status of our new friends are prohibitive, consider donating to one of the settlement agencies (Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities et al).
* In addition to providing training in sharing the gospel with Muslims, we will also provide cross cultural training.
QUESTIONS? Send us an email.
There are still some ways you can help love these folks in the name of Jesus!
SUPPLEMENT THOSE NEARER
Optimally, we'd like to see each Afghan family connected with more than one Christian family. You could be someone who is another contact (albeit further away) who can help.
Some will be able to connect via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom and the like. and could still use help. If your kid is away at college, there is still plenty of wisdom you can pass, prayers you can pray and truth you can share.
Additionally, consider occasional visits. If you live a couple of hours a way, plan a visit, or even having them over to your home.
MAKE A DONATION
The settlement agencies will only be able to do so much. We will pay bills, rent and meet other needs in the name of Jesus with these donations. (Donations will go to DC area Afghans and are tax deductible).
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