I am thankful to see the swelling interest by local churches in caring for refugees. Nowadays, I regularly get asked questions about how to begin this vital ministry at your church. Today, I simply wanted to share a resource with you that may help you get started. It is a very long list of refugee processing centers across the United States, and there is a good chance you have one near you.
What is a refugee processing center?
Simply put, these are the organizations across the country that facilitate the settling and placement of refugees. There are several national and regional organizations, some explicitly Christian and others decidedly not, that work with the federal government to process and place refugee families across the country. Many of these organizations have local offices in various cities. Some cities will have several organizations, while other cities may only have one.
Why look for a center near me?
For a local church interested in serving refugees through care and gospel proclamation, these organizations are an important link in the chain. As mentioned above, they will be a source of newly arriving refugees for your area, and they may know where existing refugees are located in the city. Some of these organizations will have specific programs in place to aid churches and other organizations in “adopting” a refugee family. Organizations such as World Relief have offices across the country and provide easy access to local churches. They will even train teams from churches in refugee care, allowing the church to meet physical needs and openly share the gospel with these newcomers.
Other organizations are closed to the idea of sharing the gospel. For this reason, it is best practice for a church to make their intentions clear with the organization. The last thing a church wants to do is use an organization to connect with refugees, only to do so with false pretense, having to lie to the organization about what they intend to do with the refugees. Make sure you are clear that refugee ministry comes with gospel proclamation. If the organization is not okay with that, then there are other ways to meet refugees.
This list is not exhaustive.
Of course, note that this list is not exhaustive. For instance, there is no resettlement agency listed for Houston. Houston is huge and has scores of refugees. We have a number of organizations in town who actively work with refugees, and not a one of them is listed in this particular directory. In fact, if you’re in the Houston area and looking to get involved, I suggest checking out this website: Houston Welcomes Refugees. Even if you do not see an agency listed near you, there may be one that is not on the list. This is just a first place to check.
Furthermore, let me be clear that these agencies are not the only way to meet newcomers, develop caring relationships, and share the gospel. Even when there is no agency in your city, it is still possible to do the work of people group discovery on your own.
So, here’s the big list: Refugee Processing Center Affiliate Directory