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Preparing for the Next Refugee Wave


Refugee movement often comes in waves, with periods of relative inactivity in between. In 2016, the United States welcomed 84,995 refugees including roughly 62,000 women and children, according to the U.S. Department of State. Many of these refugees came from Syria, fleeing mass violence as civil war ripped through the nation. While resettlement never ceased, a gradual decline followed, until the summer of 2021 which saw droves of Afghan refugees and special immigrants (allies of U.S. military operations) relocate to the U.S. as they fled violent Taliban persecution. What remains clear is this: a nation built upon the dream of a better life will continue to open its doors and provide a safe haven to the world’s most vulnerable. Rigorous processes remain in place to ensure that refugee resettlement is handled legally and safely. It is these legally resettled refugees that GoTEN, and other members of the Church, must continue to engage in prayer, love and Truth. While resettlement presently appears far from hitting peak numbers, “the next wave” is almost inevitable. The time for the Church to prepare is now.

Who is coming in the next wave?

Refugee resettlement isn’t totally predictable, but typically a quick glance at the world’s current events will give one an idea of which people group may next find themselves on the move. The Israel-Palestine conflict is obviously a very hot topic at the moment, and politics/stances aside, it’s almost certain that displacement will be a byproduct of the war. Exactly what that looks like is still very uncertain, but something that remains a possibility. Instability continues in Myanmar, as the country has been engaged in ongoing civil war for years. Resettlement has already been necessary both for the Rohingya people, as well as other civilians at risk, many of whom are unreached Buddhists. A resurgence of Burmese refugees isn’t something that can be completely ruled out. Tensions are rising in some heavily-Christian countries such as Ecuador as well, which is not GoTEN’s typical engagement target, but what if God brought more Christians into the refugee community through refugee resettlement? While they may not be in need of the gospel, perhaps they could be engaged and trained to reach their neighbors that are unreached. These are just a few possibilities, but if history continues to repeat itself, people will be on the move.

What is our responsibility?

Jesus, while on Earth, lived a life of selfless regard for others. Jesus spent his time with the vulnerable - the sick, the impoverished, the broken. Jesus loved deeply, and challenges us to do the same. That selfless love begins with opening one’s heart, and extending a welcoming hand to those that need it, including people from very different cultural backgrounds. In these waves of change, the Church must trust that God controls the movement of all peoples, that God will tend to the safety of all of His children - those that are receiving new neighbors and those that are becoming new neighbors. Will you accept the challenge of welcoming and connecting with your neighbor?

How can we prepare?

Outside of simply staying up to date on refugee-generating situations across the world, one can begin preparing by taking the initial steps of connecting with a refugee locally. While the numbers will increase again over time, resettlement has been taking place and opportunities to be welcoming exist presently. Additionally, GoTEN is offering trainings in Phoenix that equip Christians to connect, communicate and disciple in their local unreached communities. Volunteer and train with us today!


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”
-Emma Lazarus, 1883
The New Colossus, Statue of Liberty
May the Church lead the way in our country!