Bethany logo


Not in it for the extra credit

Church lives out biblical call to welcome refugees, encourages others to get involved.

Cara Salazar, content writer

Refugee smiling and talking to ESL teacher.

Extra credit is something most students hope for when taking a class. But when it comes to welcoming refugees, one church isn’t expecting to score points from God. They’re doing it because the Bible says to welcome the stranger.

“We see ministry with refugees, not as an add-on or extra credit for Christians, but as part of the gospel,” says Andrew Mead, pastor at Church of the Servant. “One way we love God is by loving our neighbor, and in particular, our neighbor who is new.”

The church first got involved with refugees decades ago following the Vietnam War. Since then, the congregation has walked alongside more than 400 refugee families, helping with transportation, English as a Second Language classes, employment, financial literacy, and more.

Refugee support team chair, Stephanie Bogema, says fellowship and a sense of belonging are vital to refugees because they’re navigating such a new environment.

“It’s really remarkable all the changes they face by coming here,” says Bogema. “Cultural differences, learning a new language. Just a sense of feeling comfortable in this new place can take a while. Co-sponsorship gives our volunteers the opportunity to work directly with refugees, hear their stories, and assist with immediate needs.”

Pastor Mead says churches don’t need to overcomplicate getting started in the work of welcome.

“The first thing is to build a relationship,” says Mead. “Be a welcoming person and ask someone their name. Listen to their story and create a human connection.”

“The second is to understand what ministries exist that are already doing this work with refugees and New Americans. There are so many opportunities to partner in this work that the church is called to.”

Bogema’s advice to churches looking to serve refugees?

“Seriously consider it,” says Bogema. “Just showing them the love of Christ and welcoming them in a way that sets them up for success is something we’ve really enjoyed.”

If your church is interested in welcoming refugees, please click here to learn more, or contact us.

Your support changes lives