Refugee Response: 11 RCA Members Who Can Help
Where do I start?
11 people who can help you and your church get involved with the refugee crisis
There are about 19.5 million refugees and 38.2 million internally displaced people worldwide. That adds up to nearly 60 million people who need our help. The RCA joined many other denominations in January 2015 for the GC2 Summit to discuss how the church can respond to the refugee emergency. That discussion launched a growing movement in the church to serve as Jesus’ hands and feet to refugees. We believe that it is indeed the business of the church to be involved, faithfully, in this time of crisis.
If you want to take action but want advice first, get in touch with one of these people in the RCA. Some are pastors, some are missionaries, and others are resettlement workers or refugee foster parents. All of them are eager to help you learn more and decide how to get involved.
You can also visit www.rca.org/refugees, where you’ll find additional resources for making a difference in the lives of refugees.
Coordinator of her church’s refugee resettlement team
First Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan
Area of expertise: church refugee resettlement teams
Anne and a team from First Reformed have helped resettled a refugee family in their community. Resettling can involve helping a family learn a new language, finding doctors, arranging transportation, providing housing and furnishings, and being a liaison to local schools. Because there are so many parts of the resettlement process, it’s often easier for a whole church to work together. Anne can offer suggestions to individuals and churches who have questions about how to help a family make a home in their community.
Foster mom to three refugee boys
New Community Fourth Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan
Areas of expertise: refugee foster care, cultural adjustments
Caitlin, her husband, and their young daughter have welcomed three teenage boys from the horn of Africa who are refugees into their home. Caitlin has learned the joys and challenges of including refugees in her family. If your family is considering refugee foster care, she can share her experience. She can also help you or your church understand the cultural adjustments refugees make.
JJ Ten Clay
RCA missionary in Italy, social action worker
Area of expertise: serving refugee organizations along a migration route
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/tenclay
JJ and her husband, Tim, live in Sicily, along the coast of the most dangerous refugee migration route in the world. JJ serves organizations that provide for the physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic needs of refugees. Sicily is a common first landing place for refugees fleeing conflict, persecution, and oppression in North Africa. JJ sees firsthand the danger of the journey, the hope that exists even in the crisis, and the need for others to act. If you or your church want to make an immediate impact, JJ can connect you with people who are helping save lives and offering hope to some of the most vulnerable people.
Kathleen Edwards Chase
First Reformed Church, Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Areas of expertise: leading congregational response, organizing a Refugee Sunday
Kathleen has led her congregation to discover its passion for people who are refugees of today’s greatest humanitarian crisis. First Reformed has worked with World Vision, an RCA partner, to understand the crisis. The church has also raised money, sponsored children in refugee care, and helped families transition to the United States. Kathleen is a great resource for a church leader looking to take a step toward responding.
Melissa Vanden Bout
First Reformed Church, South Holland, Illinois
Areas of expertise: becoming informed, finding solutions, cultural adjustments
Melissa is a professor of philosophy at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. With a passion for ethics, politics, and social media, she knows how to fruitfully guide the public conversation about refugees. As the daughter of a Navy family, she also moved frequently and has experience with adjusting to a new culture. Melissa can provide information about the refugee crisis, as well as help you design a process for educating your church.
Ponds Reformed Church, Oakland, New Jersey
Areas of expertise: community learning events, church refugee resettlement teams
Contact: email@example.com or 201-337-6744
Nathan and the Ponds Reformed congregation changed when a young woman who had fled Aleppo, Syria, knocked on the church door. As they have helped her, they have learned more about the refugee crisis and have discovered more opportunities to minister in their community. Nathan can help you plan a community learning event on the refugee crisis or understand more about refugee resettlement.
RCA missionary in Lebanon, professor of Islamic studies
Area of expertise: Muslim-Christian relations
Peter has served as an RCA missionary in six countries (including Jordan, Sudan, and Lebanon). He is a professor of Islamic studies at the Near East School of Theology in Lebanon, which hosts more than a million refugees. Peter’s passion is to help students develop productive ways of engaging their Muslim neighbors with understanding, respect, cooperation, and witness. If you or your church would like to interact in positive ways with Muslims, including Muslims who may be moving to your community, Peter can help.
Church World Service staff, coordinator of her church’s refugee response
First Reformed Church, Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Areas of expertise: refugee resettlement, leading congregational response
Rebecca works with Church World Service (CWS) to resettle refugees. She helped her church take first steps toward engagement through a Refugee Sunday partnership with World Vision. Now her church continues to support refugee resettlement in partnership with World Vision and CWS. Rebecca is familiar with various resources and organizations that can partner with your church.
Reformed Church of Highland Park, Highland Park, New Jersey
Areas of expertise: refugee resettlement, advocacy, multicultural ministry
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Interfaith-RISE
Seth and his congregation have resettled many refugee families. Through Interfaith-RISE, they have also formed community collaborations that have increased their community’s capacity to resettle refugees. The church runs Global Grace Café, which hires resettled chefs who prepare and sell foods from their respective homelands. The church’s work has been chronicled in the Huffington Post, and Seth was an invited participant at the United Nation’s 2016 summit on the global refugee crisis and mass migration.
RCA coordinator and facilitator for Global Mission development and church engagement
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Areas of expertise: development and church engagement
Scott helps congregations discover where and how God might be calling them to make a missional impact in the world and connects them with the tools and resources to live into that calling.
RCA coordinator of Missional Mosaic and advocacy
New York City, New York
Areas of expertise: advocacy, church engagement in refugee crisis
Earl helps congregations increase their cultural agility in ways that impact leadership and outreach. He also helps them engage in public policy advocacy. He works with Megan Hodgin to develop the RCA’s response to the global refugee crisis.