“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” – Matthew 25: 35-36
It’s difficult being a disciple of Christ watching a humanitarian crisis unfold – specifically in a place like Afghanistan – when a global pandemic requires us to distance ourselves from one another for the sake of humanity. This week the United States completed its withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Many Afghans are fleeing for safety away from the Taliban regime and many are seeking asylum in the United States.
Fortunately, people of faith in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church have ways to offer tangible help to refugee resettlement efforts across each state and in several communities.
The Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest and Alaska Conferences have pre-existing relationships with non-profit partners who are helping with resettlement efforts. Right now, most entities are asking for financial contributions to enhance their efforts. But there are other ways to help as well.
- Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (a longtime ministry partner of the Oregon-Idaho Conference) supports the Sponsors Organizing to Assist Refugees (SOAR) program, which helps with resettlement of refugees. Follow this link to make a donation, help create resettlement kits for refugees as they arrive, and much more.
- The Idaho Office for Refugees, which our UMCs in Idaho have long supported, is asking for the public to contact their elected officials about resettlement efforts, as well as donating to their efforts to support refugee resettlement. Holly Bush, communications specialist for Idaho Office for Refugees, said in addition to financial support they are looking for temporary emergency housing for arrivals. “If any of your contacts are property managers or homeowners who want to help, please let us know,” she said. Learn more about the Idaho Office of Refugees response to help the people of Afghanistan.
- The Pacific Northwest Conference global ministries committee has a long-standing relationship with Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSN). Based in SeaTac, LCSN has already welcomed more than 40 Afghan allies with Special Immigrant Visas, as of Aug. 20, according to President and CEO David Duea. “Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our new arrivals. Staff are working quickly to surround each arriving family with basic needs like housing, food, clothing, transportation and monetary assistance,” he said.
- People can support Lutheran Community Services Northwest’s efforts through monetary donations The agency also provides guidance on how to make starter kits for refugees.
- Denominationally, churches can support the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) response to the Afghanistan humanitarian crisis. Global Ministries and UMCOR have long-standing partners in Afghanistan to provide humanitarian aid. UMCOR is also prepared to assist with refugee resettlement through its partnership with Church World Service and is currently in conversation about assisting Church World Service with temporary housing for Afghan refugees.
- “The United Methodist Church is one of the denominations that helped launch Church World Service in 1945 and CWS remains UMCOR’s primary partner in refugee resettlement work,” said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the New York Conference, president of UMCOR. “It is imperative that we continue this long-standing tradition as United Methodists by being active in this humanitarian effort.”
- Learn more and support UMCOR’s efforts.