Some Considerations for Refugee Ministry (3/3)

Some Considerations for Refugee Ministry (3/3)

An important principle for ministry is to treat refugees with the dignity that they deserve as individual people created in the image of God.  This means that those ministering to refugees should not use “the desperate circumstances of refugees or ‘capitalize’ on their tragedy”[1] in the creation, implementation, or marketing of ministry programs.  This also extends to understanding the holistic needs of refugees instead of simply making them “mere gospel targets” [2] in evangelistic efforts.  This narrow perspective is overcome by seeing them through genuinely loving eyes and honestly caring about both their physical and spiritual needs. 

A holistic ministry approach does not disregard the centrality of the gospel.  There is an absolute necessity of verbally communicating the gospel message and the role of the gospel in creating true life change.  Integrated evangelism through word and deed creates a compelling witness which appeals to refugees seeking hope as they flee situations of physical desperation and often spiritual darkness where cultural religious environments are devoid of grace.[3]  Integrating all these ideas is this ministry principle: “while not taking advantage of refugees’ distressed conditions, refugee ministries must present the hope of the gospel and its relevance to people who have experienced extreme trauma, loss, and displacement”.[4]

Another important consideration in refugee ministry is the future potential of these new believers in reaching their own people.  Reaching and discipling refugees outside of their often-restricted countries of origin allows for greater access to Christian material and resources.  Refugee believers can be equipped for ministry to their own people as they are able to effectively reach out without the constraints that come with cross-cultural engagement and communication.  This can be within the refugee community context or by helping to support their eventual return to their country of origin.  A ‘theology of presence’ which considers the important transformative role of the church within society helps encourage the persistent presence or even reintegration of Christians in countries and communities afflicted by severe suffering and desperate circumstances.  The threats and hopelessness which instigate refugee situations can only be overcome by the loving peace and hope which are offered in and through Jesus Christ and witnessed to by his faithful followers as lights in the darkest places.[5]

[1] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 1897.

[2] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 1780.

[3] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 1912.

[4] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 1994.

[5] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 2295.

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