Regarding the Feb. 2 Baptist Standard article describing the effort needed to rebuild the United States refugee resettlement system, I’d like to begin at the end of the piece.
“Pastors and churches are eager to serve and pick back up where they left off,” noted Travis Wussow of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Rebuilding the system will take more than a presidential executive order. More is needed than re-staffing by World Relief and other refugee sponsoring agencies. Churches will fulfill a major role in refugee resettlement by providing hospitality at the local level.
Since the influx of refugees following the fall of Vietnam, the United States has provided refuge for millions of persons fleeing war and persecution. That refuge has resulted from a team effort by government, nonprofits, churches and individuals. Many churches in Texas and beyond have played a crucial role in helping refugees resettle in the past 50 years by meeting a variety of needs.
From the Panhandle to Palacios and from East Texas to El Paso, Texas Baptist churches and others have taken seriously the mandate to welcome the stranger. Volunteers have provided instruction in English for refugees in many settings, but ministry has not stopped at the end of class. Caring volunteers have helped refugee families find jobs, furnish apartments and provide for the educational needs of their children. Let’s get ready!
Lester Meriwether, executive director