He secures justice for the orphan and the widow; he loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. Therefore you are to love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:18-19
A refugee wanted us to meet with his friend. We asked if this friend was another refugee. He said no. His friend was a man who immigrated to the U.S.A. years ago, and whose visa had expired. This friend was now an undocumented immigrant. After we asked what he wanted to meet about, the refugee shared: this man's boss knows his friend can be deported. He makes him work long hours, for very little money, and threatens to turn him in to the police if he complains, tries to leave, or tells anyone. He's very scared, but I told him he could trust you. World Relief began working in Durham with refugees over three years ago. Over the past year, we've started working with two other highly vulnerable displaced populations: undocumented immigrants and people sold into modern day slavery in North Carolina.
We’ve moved in this direction because we believe that is where God is calling the local church to serve. These verses in Deuteronomy pull together two threads present throughout Scripture. God is present and active on behalf of vulnerable social groups, people who lack social networks to provide for their basic needs. God also passionately defends and provides for foreigners (immigrants, strangers, sojourners). He commands Israel to do the same, reminding that they too were foreigners (and vulnerable slaves) in Egypt. World Reliefs empowers churches in Durham to work right at this intersection, among the most vulnerable of our foreign-born or displaced neighbors.
Why? Because God has a deep, passionate commitment to act on behalf of foreigners and the vulnerable. We expect God to be especially present and active at the intersection of the two groups: refugees, undocumented immigrants, and victims of human trafficking. We simply want to be where God says God will be, participating in the work God promises to do. For immigration, right now we are relying on broader World Relief initiatives like Undocumented.TV and Welcoming the Stranger to encourage churches to approach undocumented immigrants--and the question of immigration reform--in light of verses like Deuteronomy 10:18. We are building partnerships that will allow us to more effectively continue this advocacy work and also provide legal guidance to immigrants throughout RDU in the next year.
With human trafficking, we had our first awareness event in August and have recently restarted the client care aspect of our work. We will continue promoting awareness in our community, reaching out to potential victims, and caring for those who are liberated. Throughout these changes, our work with refugees has only grown stronger, as has our commitment to work in relationship with local churches. We are excited to continue following God's passionate action among our most vulnerable foreign-born neighbors. Join us as we follow the God of the displaced.