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12- How to Reach Out to Refugees and Immigrants

David Skau


According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are currently over 22 million refugees around the world. Of course, this number doesn’t include the many individuals who simply migrate to a new country for other considerations. Many refugees and immigrants come to America and other developed countries every year. As Adventist Christians, how can we reach out to these people groups and make a difference? In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast, Esther Louw discusses this challenge with David Skau. A young person with a passion for mission, both overseas and in America, David Skau is currently working for the organization, Reach the World Next Door. Listen in to discover ways you can reach out to refugees and immigrants in your local community.


  • June 24, 2018
    2:30 PM


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According to the United Nations Refugee Agency there are currently over 22000000 refugees in the world add to that the number of people all over the world who immigrate to other countries every year and that equals a whole lot of people on the move many refugees and immigrants come to America and other developed countries every year as evidence Christians how can we reach out to these people groups and make a difference Hi this is Esther in this episode of the G Y C Beyond podcast I sit down to a conversation with David scout with a passion for mission both overseas and in America. Is currently working for the organization reach the next door and join with us as we discuss ways to reach out to refugees and immigrants in our. Welcome to the USA beyond cast David thank you for joining us and Bill willing to share with us about some of what you're doing with refugees so before we start I just wanted to get people to know you better find out what's important to you who you are as a person so could you let us know something about your background where you're from and how you got to be involved with it reach the world a story well I spent a lot of my my growing up in West Africa so got a bit of that international perspective I got involved with Reach the World next door after spending a year and a half in Egypt working in publishing in the Middle East all right so as a young person when you were growing up were you in the average church for your parents involved in the church I did you become or morals you were I was right parents were in the church I was involved I got more involved and more intentional involved as I moved through through college and actually toward the end of college I made a more intentional commitment got some some training and that's probably when I got most biggest transition in getting more involved. That's really awesome so it's more like a progression for you a little bit right involvement at the beginning and it grew and grew and it grew very I'm wondering if you could share with me at defining moment in your life or one of them that you can think of where the need for Refugees or mission work in general came apparent to you you were actually probably would be sitting in a you know home outside of Sacramento after college I was doing a Bible study which was one of the 1st Bible studies that I've done with people because I'm Vangelis stick type Bible study and. If I remember right at the end of it. The young man I was studying with it was about accepting crisis leave and he he had never done that before coming from a background of being in the church and most of my friends and social circles being on the church chart really hit home to me to root realize that there are people who had not really ever face that reality of the Savior and I came away saying this is this is real now this is not just a blessing for him but working for God with God also gives an insight into God's heart and then the kind of joy and excitement I hadn't felt but having spent the time personally with him and and even laboring and in prayer to bring him to that point there was a lot more joy in his decision than I would've imagined before I like how you said that at the end there is a lot more joy than you could have imagined and that you had really thought about somebody not having Christ in their life and accepted him before. That was a completely new encounter and experience and. You really got you got to see the importance of that because you were involved so we had this experience where you're getting by with cities and essentially realize this need that exists where people have never accepted Jesus before do you have any other experiences that also kind of pushed you towards being involved another experience that gave me. More of that sense of urgency and of the. Some of God's heart maybe with with outreach was another spot doing Bible studies actually this time was part of a student mission volunteer type year that I spent in Peru and part of that I I shadowed I wasn't fluent enough in Spanish to really be an independent by the worker but I was was accompanying a and experienced proven Bible worker and learning from him and we were giving Bible studies you know in a church that had been planted and then kind of died out is kind of discouraged at a small church without a lot of support and districts are big and Pastor wasn't it would have 20 churches so couldn't be there very often to try and encourage this new church and it was in a home of a woman who had been one of the the tightest numbers and got to know the family and she had it was a kind of sad story her her husband was alcoholic and yourself and she had a daughter and about it great 14 or 15 years old if I remember right and prove in gentleman the case asked if she was going to go to school the next year and. She the mom said well we don't have money to pay for the uniform schools free but you know books and and uniforms and we don't can't afford it and he he didn't have a lot of money but he volunteered to pay for that for them. She had one more year to finish her primary education elementary school and so we came back the next week they said Can we go no go do the shopping and mom said well actually she decided she doesn't want to she ran off to the jungle rivers with throughout the whole of the boyfriend and decided not to. Take your offer. I was really discouraged after that I sat. In a park next day or so just asking God What is the point of all of this and from what I heard from him now you have a little bit more of a feeling of oh I feel when I see you. And so many other people turn down such marked the offers that I have for your future and you should know. How how much I'm offering you just as much as she should know what kind of choice she is making to choose what she's already seen in her own family. There's not a good thing there is what I'm hearing is 2 completely different experiences that you had one as a positive this person X. you know experiences a desire and accept Jesus in their life the 1st time and then the other one is is a negative really you extend an offer to completely changes versus life says she finished school and have hope for a better future and she turns it down for an alcoholic boyfriend. So these are always changes knowing what an alcoholic family can be right knowing that already and then seeing that you can feel in your life I guess that guy is trying to work through all kinds of people including your own life to bring them to a knowledge of Jesus better their lives. So we can only talk about refugees and immigrants in particular and that story in Peru was overseas and the story that you shared before over here a college that was in America Yes OK What about if you don't have the money or you just haven't got the opportunity to seize but you feel called to work with refugees or immigrants or you just curious what something that we can learn about them what kind of people groups live in America their religions and backgrounds they come from there's a huge variety of people in America it's called a melting pot for a reason I know the most detail about Houston where I've been when working just within the Houston area you know we have a large Chinese an immigrant population and for a long time Vietnamese population have been there decades as well but we've also been working personally with a Cambodian community actually that one feels like a 2 or 3 small neighborhood worth almost just picked up from Cambodia and know what everyone in there has a Buddhist temple in the neighborhood but also just a huge mix of people all all through Houston and Houston is one of the most diverse places Well it's not the only place wow that's anywhere there you go there are people from different parts of the world anywhere you go if you if you had your eyes open for it I've. Met people in gas stations and grocery stores righteous just the results so you can you can look up where some different ethnicities are with different resources people groups start in for some on if you have a major metro area near you you can look up what the more the larger ethnic groups are in your area. Does America's immigration policy have anything to do with where these people groups and that there is. I'm not deeply into the resettlement process to know but there are there are parts of the policy that determines where in America there is sponsor to has refugees because immigrants people have freedom to write where they choose to so so so there's really like this 2 reasons people might be here for us and these countries are immigrants other refugees and if they're refugees they may have been settled in their program and so they all kind of tend to be a same or similar location Yeah they're all there with refugees there will be certain cities that are identified as having good socio economic conditions and and room in the city and they have housing they have jobs they have had agency that's willing to support them for a while and so that determines the city is that they're placed in small to medium to large cities right doesn't all it's not always a large city for refugee placements. What diligence did these people come from where you can have again with refugees it tends to be primarily from places that have disruption or unrest so recently a lot of the US refugees and that kind of goes in waves as those world events happen and recently we've had a lot of refugees from Afghanistan from Iraq and from also the Horn of Africa Somalia Sudan Libya to some extent but also historically we've had Vietnam Southeast Asia. Cambodia sort of wow I think this is a really great opportunity right to be in a Christian country without even leaving America impact people from all these different religious backgrounds like most IMO Buddhist or Hindu or even the mentioning earlier Chinese and that's a country that has historically been really hard to reach its true and many of those those places are also some of the most difficult places for Christian work in those countries because of the war and because many of them come from quite close to society's strongly Muslim societies another group we haven't mentioned that is international students and so. We have students it's kind of a prestigious thing many of the world leaders took their their university education in the United States so right now we probably have the future leaders of who know Saudi Arabia Indonesia studying in American universities right now and unfortunately many of those international students may spend 4 more years here and never really make a deep American friend they may not however have a meal in an American home Wow But that's a. Huge opportunity that if you are a university student. Especially if you are harder university that hard a lot of international students public universities often to open your eyes for these international students that may be in the U.S. in a place that it's easy to reach them for a short window of time. And we also have no. Church should even share the thought from a graduate salary have to please share the car 70 it might take me a 2nd to report up that's fine I was actually thinking I think we're thinking of the same quote and I would love for you to pull that up right now but just going back where you said that there's you know people who've spent 4 years here and never even even a meal in American person's house I mean that's a really simple with ministry right just really for a meal. Inviting people over for a meal or if you're in a dorm situation you can choose to say no can you can really go there and cafeteria or the restaurant as well but friendship can be a powerful opportunity a powerful window into people's lives right and you know from my own background here I spent a lot of time in the past working with international students at university campuses and I suspense a time 11 and different places and I think it's a it's not just for them but it's also for us because what I've noticed is it grows me. In our perspective of the world and in other people and what we can learn by interacting with them so it. It's a growing Spain and by people time it's a joy Yeah so you have that cut press idea says from the book Angela's and Page 57570 it says great benefits would come to the Cause of God in the regions beyond if they thought effort were put forth in behalf of the foreigners in the cities of our home one talking about the US though it could apply to other places if you're somewhere else to reign among these men and women are some who upon accepting the truth would soon be fitted to labor for their own people in this country and in other countries. Many might return to the places from which they came in the hope of winning their friends to the truth they can search out their kinsfolk neighbors and communicate to them a knowledge of the 3rd angel's message. Started before usually do not yet keep going God would be pleased to see far more accomplished by his people in the presentation of the truth for this time to the foreigners in America than has been done in the past as I have testified for years if we were quick in discerning the opening providences of God we would be able to see in the multiplying opportunities to reach many foreigners in America a divinely appointed means of rapidly extending the 3rd angel's message into all the nations of the earth God in His providence has brought men to our very doors and thrust them as it were into our arms that they might learn the truth and be qualified to do our work we could not do in getting the light before men of other tongues telling more about the last line that they can do the work that we cannot say yes so. A lot of avenues. To reach people it helps if you can speak their language or write the same language the day a language they speak. Even better if it's the language that is close to their heart or if you understand their culture and it can help if you have the legal right to be in the same geographic area no kidding me so language culture and proximity. Getting visas to go to Saudi Arabia or Sudan is really almost impossible right. There God can do incredible things and he does through people who may have other tech making skills or go as students but as far as going with a clear missionary purpose it's it's not allowed then language from just from my own personal experience it takes a long time even after a year and a half in Egypt and doing. More language study than most people around me did I was still far from able to not fluently communicate about spiritual topics I could relate to that very thing at 11 and one person told me that takes an average 7 years to learn Arabic fluently right but here we have immigrants refugees international students who have put out the effort or are putting out the effort to learn English right and so we can communicate in a shared language Yeah and and that can also be an opportunity as well for ministry and connecting to people if there are people that are wanting to practice English or to have extra opportunities for dialogue or for tutoring but so you've got a shared language they're in a place where there is religious freedom but they still have the connections in the social network and the culture in the language to reach back into their own home cultures so if you if we when 11 person from from Sudan or from Somalia or from Saudi Arabia or from Bhutan ask understand that person may still have a huge family and friend network that they may still very likely be in communication with on a regular basis I've been studying and meeting with a Somali man who's been living in the U.S. for most of his life now probably in his early twenty's and he's been here more than a decade and I know but he is still actively on what's up groups and Facebook groups in with others that are of Somali background there are all in the U.S. Some of them are still in Somalia so if we reach one person like that that may be a person that becomes like going to possible who can spread that that spark to a huge. Number of people in places that we couldn't go wow it really is then reaching the World next story perhaps that's the idea and I love Howell right and that quote that you shared early she says God has thrust them into right into our very porous is putting our our very doors there is it's not a there are so somewhere else God has actively thrown them and he's hoping that we will catch their the opportunity. Well so we talked about the religious background of these people and how if we can win one of these refugees are immigrants to Christ what they can do for their own people no countries is so much more than what we could hope to do just trying to learn the language and get through the cultural areas. But let's talk about some of the needs of these people have when they come to a country like America or and the region is trailing I'm sure they were going to also come to you know strangely over England or different European countries what needs to these immigrants and refugees have that we can reach you can you can vary widely a refugee It may be in need of a huge number of things by Matt just in the last few months or a family that had moved from Afghanistan and they were basically put into an empty apartment with finances and without much local network so the weeks they slowly gathered from richer as people brought their own furniture senator and we didn't so we hired was able to be part of sharing some some kitchen supplies with them and some good cooking finding people that donated some some other things that were useful to them a coffee table for the living room and we actually don't he's really share a language but we have would develop quite a a friendship there one of the the of. Children speak some English and it's clear that we are welcome in their home. Received very warmly. Different things that they've needed. Range from life hoping with getting health insurance or Polish persistence paperwork an air of any sort driving license nice job search job applications navigating government and school systems. Some those 1st arriving there there can be things even as there's basic as I was learning how fixtures in a house work. One of one of my friends who actually was. A student then the training center that I have been working with described when he was a refugee coming and not knowing how to open a door because he had not used a door knob before so simple things that we don't think about anyone ever learning but they are that huge navigating a different world but and then also language language strain that's a big one as well and I guess of the needs might be different base of people groups so you know someone who is a refugee from Syria they've lived in a house adores Yes but someone who's a refugee from Sudan may not have may have spent may spend his whole life in a refugee camp right so that their needs are at broad and diverse Yes And so the real thing is is simply being present and building trust and listening to their their needs because one person may need something and the other person may have gotten already well taken care of but but friendship and under veil ability. And I like a mention friendship I guess for those this is and for as he moves to countries it's amazing when you go to another country and then you suddenly realize I don't have a network right out of the people here and that is a very real need for stuff is just social contact Right right. So tell me now like about some organizations and you know I I live here in in America but I'm honestly I'm not sure I know of an organization other than reach the next door that would help me to be our Connectors and these people talk and young person say like I want to help out I'm going to do something in my area how do they gain touch with that well there so there's a really good question Rich the room next door would be one of one option where it's racial in a story rich the world next door the training center itself is outside of Houston but there's also a website that has information on how to reach out to an online training kit reach the world Next Door dot com There are also have some other Web sites that might point you to I mentioned people group start info that's a Web site that tracks where people are in the world and right not just their their place of origin but also where they've migrated to in the Marriott and where you move who you might find say in Seattle or that was people group start in well OK. Now reach the world's website reach the world Next Door dot com perfect yeah Are there any other ways that someone can reach out to you have to be part of the station you don't have to be part of an organization you are another contact point might be to look up refugee resettlement agencies right now the floor of refugees is really been slowed down due to the national immigration policy but there are still refugees that have come in in the past. Some are still here in their store trickle and it could pick up again as things change but that if you look up there is probably in any decent sized city or metro area or you at least one refugee resettlement agency and oftentimes they are they are looking for very very welcoming to having groups or dart people as they come and that could that could include welcoming them at the airport you may be the 1st serious that they see as a shore up and then being there as their their family their substantial support helping them set up their apartment helping them navigate this how do I how do I learn my way around where is the store and where are good places to buy things what just all of these new questions if you've if you've ever moved and then an unfamiliar place that are amplified when it's across languages and cultures in. There and many times groups that would adopt could be it could be a church group or a service school or just a group of friends that says we're willing to do that and then the refugee resettlement agency could put you in touch with someone that they're coordinating coming let's create this really practical and innocent everything that you know can be done and it's very practical stuff that anyone can do really I mean anyone can help someone meet them at the airport right right or help someone set up their house I love how practical that is let's just bring this this podcast to a close and I was just wondering if you could tell me in one or 2 sentences why about getting involved why should a young person like myself get involved with ministry to refugees and immigrants. There's a lot of different whys and we just we read one that it's just it's an opportunity that God has put in our hands to make a huge difference there's also as we mentioned as we work with God and put our lives in his hands it changes us too but if we love Christ we can't help but want to share that with others and as we share that love great. Gift if you want to have that more vibrant life as well maybe maybe you are feeling at this moment just compelled to go out and share with others but if you begin sharing in even those just the practical ways and God will grow those opportunities and grow your joy and your walk with him and you let him grow and work in your life right so summarize the why it's really bad for them and for us for us. To continue with. A decent nights for taking part in this interview really pushing the news in for those who are listening you like to get in trouble with the story next story that has reached a story Doc thank you very much thank you so much appreciation for David's girls contribution by sharing with us I hope you have been challenged as I have been to look around in your local community for opportunities to make an eternal impact.


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