“God gives us his grace to spend it on others through acts of compassion.” – Rob Bugh, Senior Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church

Each of us can point to an ancestor in our family who had to rely on another in order to come to this country.   For these immigrants, this meant fully trusting another, submitting to a process, and facing uncertainty—all in pursuit of freedom, safety, and the hope of new opportunity.  Today, immigrants have the same challenges.  In the face of personal tragedy, these individuals flee their home country—distressed and vulnerable— but still optimistic about the future.

In the Bible, there are over 90 references on how vulnerable people are to be treated, which is why from the inception of World Relief, the mission was clear— to work alongside and through the Church.   God has clearly given Christians a mandate on how to treat the poor, the outcast, and the stranger.  As the primary agent of bringing peace, justice, and love to a broken world the Church and World Relief can STAND for the devastated and the displaced together.

Over the years, World Relief DuPage/Aurora [WRDA] has built strong partnerships with local churches and pastors who faithfully give of their time and talents to welcome refugees and immigrants into their communities and congregations.  One longtime partnership is with Wheaton Bile Church [WBC].

According to Rob Bugh, Senior Pastor at WBC, the church became involved with WRDA simply because the Gospel compels Christians to love people—all people.  “We don’t have the luxury of doing anything but getting involved when there is a need in our culture or in our community, “said Bugh.

Furthermore, WBC could see how God was blessing them, which meant that they needed to be intentional about looking for ways to be a blessing to others—especially the stranger.  World Relief was an ideal fit for them because WBC believes that ministry can be sustained long-term when they partner with an expert organization that has more experience with a particular ministry or people group.

Locally, members of WBC volunteer as Friendship Partners helping newly arrived refugee families in DuPage County adapt to the new culture.  Globally, the church partnered with World Relief and Parklands Baptist Church in Nairobi to help create the Hope Kenya program.

Another key church partnership is Village Bible Church [VBC], Sugar Grove.  The connection with this church started in 2006 when their youth group pastor had a vision for youth reaching-out and serving other youth in the community.  As a result, a tutoring partnership developed between students in the youth group and refugee students resettled by World Relief in Aurora.  Their efforts caught the attention of the adults in the congregation, and a member championed an adult volunteer team. They began collecting items for Good Neighbor Kits, and in just six years, the team has been able to collect enough items for almost 50 kits, which translates into 50 fully stocked apartments for refugee families.

“Watching someone come into their apartment that we were able to stock for them and seeing the smile on their face is incredible,” said Scott Capp, Equipping Pastor at Village Bible Church, Sugar Grove.

Referencing Deuteronomy 10:19, Capp’s desire is for everyone to recognize that we live in a nation of refugees and immigrants and we were all new –somewhere at some point in time.

According to Capp, the local church has both an opportunity and a responsibility, to reach-out to and let their refugee and immigrant neighbors know that they are welcome and we are glad that they are here.

On June 23, WRDA encourages all local churches set aside a few minutes during their weekly service to not only celebrate the strength and determination of refugees and immigrants, but to also to pray and consider if God might be calling them as a congregation to partner with World Relief and STAND for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Resources and ideas are available for Refugee and Immigrant Sunday on the WRDA Website or by contacting Tommy Moore, Church Mobilizer, at (630) 462-1064 or tmoore@wr.org.