Reaching Refugees

• A story of grace from Lauren West • 

My husband and I recently moved to Louisville this past August. One of the aspects of Louisville that drew us to move here was the number of refugees and internationals who are settled here. The thought of reaching Unreached People Groups (those who have no access to hear the Gospel in their home country) coming right to us in Louisville was so exciting and a huge opportunity for us to serve, love, and share the Gospel with those people around us (Psalm 96:3).  I recently started volunteering with Refuge International, whose mission is to glorify God by partnering with local churches to love refugees and immigrants. They have an English mentoring program that I joined as a way to meet a refugee friend in a time where it can be hard to make connections. I started meeting with my new friend, Karina, a few weeks ago.

Karina is a refugee from Guatemala. She speaks no English, has lived here for 3 years, and is more than 8 months pregnant with her 3rd child. One of the unique things about the English mentoring program is that you meet your mentee in their home. I am not an English teacher by any means, but coming alongside these refugees, and teaching them some survival English phrases, gives them a vital tool they need to do life in America (1 Peter 4:10). By establishing a relationship with them, you are helping set a foundation for refugees to hear the hope of Jesus proclaimed and for the Gospel to be more clearly understood. After meeting her just a few weeks ago, there have been so many ways to serve and love her with her new baby coming and share with her some promises of the Bible. She has even asked to come to church with us one week! I have been able to start establishing a friendship with her and I am hopeful and expectant that God will use this for His glory (Habakkuk 2:14). What a great opportunity! Please pray with me for people like Karina and other internationals who are looking for someone to have the boldness to reach out to them and be their friend.

What does this commitment look like for anyone else who wants to join English mentoring? There is a one hour per week commitment to meet with your refugee friend in their home and teach them English. If you are not an English teacher like me, don’t worry! They have lessons already prepared for you. If you don’t speak another language, that’s okay! I have been communicating with my new friend through google translate and there are lots of laughs and grace to go around. You also get a small sense of how they feel going through life every day in a language they don’t yet understand.  As these refugees have been uprooted from their home countries, the majority of them no longer have the luxury to interact, grow in their education nor obtain jobs in their native language. You entering into their lives and offering this type of help will mean so much to them and the future of their family. If you are interested in English Mentoring, please contact Lacy Monahan with Refuge International at (507) 215-0903. If you have any questions about my experience or how you can become more involved with the refugee community, feel free to contact me at (317) 519-8762.