Thanks to Bishop Patricia Lull of the Saint Paul Area Synod (ELCA) for sharing this Great Idea. We’ve expanded on her ideas, but will be happy to include other resources, as well; please advise.
Bishop Lull writes:
[As the US began pulling out of Afghanistan], a former military chaplain reached out to me. He is heartsick at the suffering he sees in Afghanistan. He knows, as do I, the deep investment made by the U.S. troops, who served there over the past 20 years, as well as the profound yearning of many civilians for a freer way of life. It is another huge humanitarian crisis, arising before our eyes.
While we may champion different political and diplomatic strategies, as Christians we are called to do several things:
- Educate: Start small with James Burklo’s When Will We Ever Learn? article (ProgressiveChristianity.org; viewed 10.06.21). Find additional stories, books, study materials, and service opportunities in our Immigrants & Refugees lib guide.
- Pray: Lift up the crisis in Afghanistan and among the world’s refugees in worship. Prayers must continue. Consider joining the prayers in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s website.
- Advocate: Contact elected leaders, expressing your views as a citizen. You can find resources for your own advocacy efforts through the ELCA’s Advocacy website.
- Volunteer: As individuals and congregations we can support local resettlement efforts for refugees and asylum seekers from many nations. More information on concrete initiatives can be found through Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s Circle of Welcome program or Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.
- Support: The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Global Ministries have long-standing partners in Afghanistan, with projects and programs in place to support health, community development, and human rights.
- Support: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) efforts in Afghanistan, neighboring countries, and the US through the PDA US Refugee Emergency Fund.
- Train: Train leaders and congregations to develop awareness, improve welcome, provide hospitality, and hone community building skills as a way to embrace arriving Afghan (and other) refugees.
What we may not do as Christians is ignore the needs of neighbors – near and far. O God, strength of those who believe in you, give comfort and clarity of vision to us in this time of need. Open our ears to hear your voice and obey your will; open our hearts that true justice and wisdom may abound; and open our hands that violent resolution of conflict may cease, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen (Prayer from ELW)
In Christ’s service,
Bishop Patricia Lull
The Sahan Journal‘s Hiba Ansari also compiled How You Can Help Refugees in Minnesota Right Now.
The Minnesota Council of Churches invites your help by:
- Donating money for families’ housing and food needs here.
- Donating household items to help furnish welcoming residences here.
- Volunteer to set up apartments, transport individuals to key appointments, or co-sponsor a family, whether from Afghanistan or elsewhere, by contacting Kathryn at email@example.com.
You can find additional resources for supporting immigrant and refugee peoples in our Congregational Life: Social Justice – Immigration & Refugees lib guide.