Partnership centered around focus:refugees and focus:poverty initiatives
by Will Cumbia
BGAV and WMUV partner together to present the “Going Deeper Series,” a way for churches and individuals to dive deeper into God’s mission around the world and right next door. The first series this spring will center on the BGAV’s focus:refugees partnership with a second series on focus:poverty following in the fall. The series includes webinars, events, and a book club to guide participants into more meaningful mission’s engagement.
The continuing realities and consequences of the pandemic have caused people of faith across the world to rethink all aspects of church and denominational life, including mission. What is a mission without our traditional models of volunteering abroad with partners? Craig Waddell, BGAV’s Partnership Coordinator for missions reflects on these shifts saying, in these days “we are focusing anew on what volunteering really means: to share out of generosity. This generosity grows from being transformed by God’s generosity toward us. It does not require travel, and in fact the most basic way to volunteer as a follower of Christ is to share life with one’s neighbor.”
While it is still incredibly valuable to go and take part in what God is doing in a different part of the world, travel cannot replace deeper service within our own communities. The Going Deeper Series is meant to provide avenues and spaces for reflection on concrete and relationally healthy ways to share God’s generosity wherever we are. In Virginia, this generosity can include love of our newest neighbors: refugees from around the world.
The number of refugees in the world is higher now than it ever has been in recorded history, at over 82.4 million people displaced from their homes (equal to about a fourth of the US population).While the plight of refugees has regularly appeared in our news cycles over the past years, it can be difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the issue and to look past statistics to let the stories of those who have fled violence, persecution, and inhospitable climates affect us.
For Laura Davis, Missions Engagement Director for WMUV, the stories of refugees have become personal over the past years. She writes, “I have heard stories from and about people who have had to flee their homes. Families and individuals have left all they’ve ever known – their home, their culture, other family and friends – just to get to a place where they can be safe.” If we have ever experienced the gift of home, family, and safety, those who have lost these gifts should matter deeply to us.
We have an incredible opportunity right here in Virginia to be good neighbors and help these women, men, and children get re-established as they acclimate to a new language, culture, and home. Throughout the series we will reflect more on refugee journeys, hone skills to better understand different cultures (even within our own communities) and learn from refugees and those that are helping them resettle. All the offerings of the series are aimed to equip individuals to become more informed and generous neighbors and to empower churches to authentically and sustainably engage with the refugee community.
If you and your church want to get involved, but aren’t sure how, this series is a perfect starting point to dive deeper. Scroll down to learn more about the webinars, book discussion, and events planned during this series and register for all the events here.
Hear from experts and individuals from a displaced background on the lessons we can learn from refugee experiences.
Webinar 1: Introduction to Ministry with Refugees
Saturday, March 12 at 10 a.m. EST
Will Cumbia, Field Coordinator for the focus:refugees partnership will share an overview of the situation of refugees in the world and the basis for why we as Christians should care about refugees.
Webinar 2: Cultural Intelligence through the Lens of Refugee Ministry
Saturday, April 2 10 at a.m. EST
Maria Lynn, a current Venturer working at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota, will share her experiences on how to build skills in connecting cross-culturally in our own backyards.
Webinar 3: Refugee Integration at Home
Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. EST
Local leaders from ReEstablish Richmond will join us to show how we can best reach out to and serve our newest neighbors in Virginia
Webinar 4: Panel Discussion: Connecting with People from Diverse Backgrounds
Saturday, June 4 at 10 a.m. EST
Join in with all of the previous webinar speakers for a conversation around why diversity is a blessing to the church and how we can best build relationships with a diversity of people.
Sundays at 2 p.m. EST March 20, April 24, May 29, and June 12
Go deeper into reflection of refugee work and mission as we discuss D.L. Mayfield’s book, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. Mayfield shares an honest and encouraging look at the realities of working cross-culturally with refugees in the US and invites her readers to reconsider our understanding of mission at home.