In 2008, North Carolina ranked 11th in the nation for the number of refugees settled in the state.
According to a report from the state Office of Refugee Resettlement, between October 2009 and the end of January 2010, 460 refugees moved to North Carolina.
Even as the recession deepens, the United States plans to bring in an increasing number of refugees due to humanitarian crises in countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam and Iraq. The quota for this fiscal year is 90,000, up from 70,000 in years past.
Refugee agencies decide where those refugees are resettled, and several North Carolina agencies say the economy has not affected their plans to bring new refugees to our state. Because of my work as Asian Church Planting Consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, I am frequently asked, “How can a local church or an association get involved in outreach, ministry or church planting to reach the refugee groups in North Carolina?” Here are some tips I learned from Bryan Presson, a church planter to the Karens in Greensboro:
1. EDUCATE- The first place to start is promotion/education/communication regarding the refugee resettlement program – who are the refugees, why are they refugees and why are they coming here?
2. DISCOVER- Find out what other churches are doing to minister to refugees in your area. Greater communication among the churches could result in greater fruitfulness and cooperation in refugee ministry.
3. CONNECT- With refugee resettlement agencies. Several agencies are in North Carolina, such as Lutheran Family Services, Church World Service, African Coalition Services and World Relief.
4. PARTNER- Cooperation between two or more churches on the associational level to sponsor a family provides smaller churches the opportunity to share the load and participate.
5. ESL- Provide ESL certification training and then start ESL ministries in your church and on-site in apartment complexes, etc.