There are between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees from all over the world now calling San Diego home. These are people who have fled their homes for fear of their very lives, usually leaving everything they ever owned behind. Family, friends, profession and everything they have ever known are gone forever. They have arrived in a new land, don’t speak the language, know no one, and have no one stepping up to help them. What can you do to help them?
America is a land of immigrants and refugees. In fact, except 5.2 million Native Americans, all of the rest of the 325 million inhabitants (over 98%) of us come from immigrant or refugee roots. This is really what makes America great! We are a land of great diversity! My own grandfather, Miles Standish, was one of the refugees fleeing Europe for religious freedom who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.
Our Statue of Liberty states “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” This is what has truly made America great; our open arms to those who are longing for freedom!
San Diego epitomizes this freedom as the “Refugee Capital of America.” Part of what has made San Diego into “America’s Finest City” is the fact that San Diego has accepted more refugees in the past 10 years than any other American city. We have opened our arms and accepted the “huddled masses yearning to be free.”
The church that I pastor, the Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church has been helping refugees for the past six years to learn English, gain job skills and become assimilated into the culture of America. We call our organization “Friendships For Hope,” because we want to offer our friendship to the thousands of refugees fleeing to our fine city. We now have over 60 different nationalities worshiping together as a church family. We offer translation of our worship services in Arabic, French, Kinyarwanda, Laotian, Spanish & Swahili.
In the past six years we have assisted over 250 refugee families to learn English, and gain job skills so that they were able to get off of welfare and become productive citizens of our great country and community. We now have a community garden where refugees are free to come and grow their favorite foods from home. We have a thrift store where they can not only gain work experience, but they can find quality clothing, furniture and household items to set up their new homes.
Do you truly want America to stay great? Get involved by becoming a friend to one or more of the “huddled masses yearning to be free” and help them to become part of our great nation of immigrant and refugee families. Instead of being afraid of the unknown neighbor, get to know them and become their friend. It may surprise you how much you will grow through the experience as well!
Get acquainted with Will James' ministry to refugees by visiting: www.FriendshipsForHope.org© 2017 - 2022 ASA. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.