Although many view them as a threat, World Relief believes that immigrants—including undocumented immigrants—present a beautiful, missional opportunity for the Church. World Relief seeks to equip churches to think biblically about immigration and to extend Christ-like hospitality to our immigrant neighbors.
Roughly 10 percent of immigrants that come to the U.S. are refugees fleeing ethnic, religious, and political persecution. These immigrants have gathered what belongings they could carry and escaped to another country, sometimes living in camps for over 10 years, waiting to go home.
Some refugees are invited by the U.S. government to make another life-changing move: to rebuild their lives in the U.S.
World Relief Durham works with local church and community partners to resettle these new arrivals, assisting them as they learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and pursue employment, education and other opportunities in our community.
Once refugees have been offered the chance to start their lives over here in the U.S., local agencies like World Relief Durham prepare themselves and their community to welcome these new neighbors.
From Pre-Arrival through Community Development: The Resettlement Process (Learn More).
Before a new family or individual arrives, World Relief is already working to anticipate major health needs, locate an apartment, and start building community support for the new family. When refugees step off the plane, we want people at the airport to greet them, letting them know from the very beginning that they are not unwanted but valued and loved members of this community.
World Relief receives funding from the State Department to assist each new refugee for 90 days. Through local partnerships and support, World Relief Durham extends this time frame to the first 180 days. During this time, we help refugees apply for social security cards, register for temporary social service benefits (Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash Assistance), enroll in school and ESL programs, learn about working in the U.S., and connect them to churches and community groups that will encourage and befriend them. Within this broad program of refugee resettlement, World Relief Durham has a few specific initiatives.
World Relief Durham participates in a federally funded “matching grant” program. This program offers additional financial support as long as the local community members provide a matching amount of support. For more information, follow Karim’s Story.
Refugees come from various backgrounds; some are highly educated doctors fluent in English while others have lived in remote jungles and received no formal education. For the latter, adjusting to life in Durham has some major challenges, like learning to use public transportation or learning how to balance a checkbook. World Relief Durham has created a self-sufficiency program that focuses on five key areas of adjustment: employment, financial literacy, home cleanliness and safety, transportation, and health services. With the assistance of interns and volunteers, World Relief Durham takes refugees through a curriculum that teaches the basics skills needed in each area (e.g., how to determine the appropriate place to seek assistance for a medical need, or how to get to a new location on the bus).
Moving beyond “self-sufficiency,” World Relief fosters community development in refugee communities. Refugees who are self-sufficient are able to assist new arrivals as they adjust. Due to language barriers, interpreters become key community members who help us partner with the refugee communities in developing structures to identify, articulate and respond to their own needs.