Six Questions to Consider Before Starting a Refugee Ministry

What does your Father want from this ministry?

He wants his children to welcome, not distantly tolerate, strangers. He wants you to welcome them face-to-face. (Matthew 25:41-46)

He wants to see his children unite to represent his interests to a watching world. (John 17:20-21)

He wants his children to see him as the God of all the nations, not just their nation. (Psalm 67:1-3)

He wants his children’s actions to bring glory to him, their Father. (I Peter 2:12)

How will you ensure your workers have Godly motivation?

Pity alone is not a sufficient motivation, and ultimately will inspire your people to serve only those they feel deserve their efforts. Jesus said that’s too few. (Luke 6:27-30)

The desire to bring God glory is the one ultimate motivator. It is completely sufficient, as it depends only on God’s attributes, not upon the attributes of those we serve. (Matthew 5:16)

How will you help your workers overcome cultural pride?

People who are culturally humble can serve God’s glory. (Isaiah 6:5)

People who are culturally proud can’t. (Romans 11:20-21)

People who believe God favors their nation, race, or culture above all others cannot properly serve God’s glory. (Isaiah 49:6; Romans 10:11-13)

How will you guard against giving things but not giving yourselves?

Jesus didn’t give us used furniture and clothing. He gave us himself. (John 10:11)

His sacrifice is our ministry model. (I Peter 2:20-21)

How will you guard against using refugee ministry as a form of “marketing” to give your congregation’s “brand” a more cosmopolitan appeal?

Jesus rebuked people whose piety was designed to promote themselves. (Matthew 6:5-6,16-18)

If welcoming refugees caused people to revile your church, persecute it, and utter all kinds of evil against it falsely on Jesus’ account, would you still be interested? (Luke 6:22-23)

What will power your ministry?

Our ability to do any God-glorifying ministry can only come from God’s Holy Spirit. Seeking his heart is more crucial than making plans or securing funds. (II Corinthians 3:4-6)

Prayer must be the beginning and the end of your work with refugees. Do not allow funding, either in lack or abundance, to supplant the primacy of prayer. Make sure that zeal for God’s all-nation, all-tribe, all-culture, all-language, eternal glory drives these prayers! Then let God design your ministry, support it, and bless it in the manner he chooses.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:6-8, ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, ESV)

Amen and amen.