We Choose Welcome, Pathways to Support our Newest Refugee Neighbors
“Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 10:19 reminds us that in our faith tradition, personal suffering should only increase our compassion for the suffering of others.
In the turmoil of the past two years, we all experienced the loss of the lives we knew. Now more than ever, our hearts should be opened and attuned to people who have lost the lives they knew.
Refugees lose everything. Refugees lose the people and places they love. Refugees lose their communities and resources. Refugees lose safety and peace of mind. These are but a few of the losses people experience when violence and suffering force them to leave their homes and homelands.
Too often, as a result of how the rest of the world treats them, refugees lose global recognition of their human worth and dignity as well.
That is something that Christians cannot allow to happen. That is why our partnerships with organizations like Refugee Services of Texas (RST), Faith Forward Dallas, and Us at Work are crucial to living our faith.
Sunday, March 6, Liz Ternes, Jennifer Stinson, and Nancy Lubar came to PHPC to speak on behalf of these organizations. They described collecting country-specific groceries for refugee families, welcoming families at airports with signs and open arms, providing short-term hospitality and travel navigation, supplying everything from beds to bicycles to pressure cookers, and carpooling to English language classes.
As we listened, our hearts were broken by the statistics and stories of suffering and strengthened by stories of help and healing.
Friends, we know that in the breaking and strengthening of our hearts, our God was speaking; calling us to hear, to remember, to act.
If you feel prompted to answer our call to work alongside RST, Faith Forward Dallas, and Us at Work, see below for a list of ways to get involved, some of the things you participate in may feel small. Do not be deceived. When we act as the hands and feet of Christ in the world, goodness that seems small is multiplied. So let us do our part. Let us give away the pressure cookers we don’t use, let us drive to the airport with signs of welcome, and let us form loving, lasting relationships with refugees in our communities.
Let us love strangers. No one is a stranger to God.
How to Get Involved
Faith Forward Dallas
Faith Forward Dallas is a multi-faith organization working to welcome refugees from the border seeking asylum. They have begun the asylum process at the border but have been released and need to reach their sponsors throughout the United States to continue the process and meet their court dates.
Our group welcomes them at Oaklawn United Methodist Church, where we feed them, give them a place to rest and sleep, and help them make travel arrangements with their sponsors. When travel arrangements are made we help them get to the airport or bus station so they can continue their journey.
The refugees are with us for approximately 24 hours. Because so many things are unpredictable when dealing with operations at the border, we typically have only a few days' notice of when a bus will arrive.
Volunteer opportunities with FFD:
- Intake volunteers (Spanish speaking) – gather important information from our guests and assign them a bed
- Travel arrangements volunteers (Spanish speaking preferred) - work with sponsors to get our guests an airline ticket or but ticket to travel to their sponsor's home
- Travel escorts (Spanish speaking) - go to the airport or bus station with guests and help them get to their gate
- Medical volunteers (Spanish speaking) - conduct general medical assessments and help with minor medical issues
- Hospitality (English or Spanish speaking) - help guests with meals and other needed supplies
- Floater volunteers (English speaking) - help organizers with any needs they have, organize the "flight board"
- Donations (money, food, supplies) - we can always use donations for our guests
How to sign up to volunteer with FFD:
If you are interested in receiving information about our Welcome Centers, please contact Jennifer Stinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-888-2396. A background check will be required. By expressing interest you are not committing to greet every bus that arrives in Dallas.
Us at Work
A few years ago Nancy Lumbar got a phone call from a friend asking if she could help a family who was new to Dallas. She and a few friends got to work and word started to spread, she was getting calls from other families who had been resettled in Dallas’s Vickery Meadow neighborhoods. They found furniture, home goods, clothing, transportation, and most importantly a community for these families.
Then in the summer of 2021 refugees from Afghanistan began to arrive in Dallas. And Nancy and her team were called to action again. What started with two families in September has now grown to over 30 and a network of volunteers providing care, transportation, and donations.
Volunteer Opportunities with Us at Work:
- Carpool Drivers - Help with carpooling women & their children to English classes at Literacy Achieves. Classes are from 12:30-2:30 on Mon-Thurs. You can drop them off or pick them up.
- Mentorship - Be a mentor or friend to the family or the woman of the family.
- Donation Pick Up (do you have a truck or large SUV?!) - Pick up donations and deliver them to a family.
- Cleaning Supplies - Provide cleaning supplies or groceries to a new family.
Current Donation Needs: sewing machines, area rugs, pressure cookers (electric or stovetop), Smart TVs, and working used cars.
How to sign up to volunteer with Us at Work:
Refugee Services of Texas (RST)
Refugee Services of Texas serves refugees, asylees, individuals with Special Immigrant Visas, Cuban-Haitian entrants, Central American minors, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations. In addition, RST works to facilitate partnerships with host communities to build a welcoming environment.
Resettlement services - After applying for refugee status, individuals and families are screened, granted permission to resettle, and assigned to our agency by the U.S. Department of State. RST offers programs to assist refugees with basic needs and services during their initial resettlement period to the United States. Refugee clients are provided with case management and assistance while they work to meet the many challenges of transitioning to the local community.
Volunteer with Refugee Services Of Texas:
RST's Volunteer Orientation and Training is ONLINE, however, we do have in-person volunteer opportunities in all 7 of our locations across Texas. Although trainings are being held virtually, please only sign up for training in your area, as procedures and volunteer opportunities differ from location to location.
Learn about our many volunteer opportunities by visiting www.rstx.org/make-an-impact/volunteer.html. Then, create a volunteer profile to sign up for opportunities by clicking on your nearest service site!