How to help refugees and internationals find new life in their new neighborhoods.

We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the good news of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us!” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Clarkston is a small community on the east side of Atlanta. It would be completely overlooked if it weren’t for one thing—the vast majority of its residents are fleeing crisis to make it their new home.

When I first moved to the city known as America’s “most diverse square mile,” I saw the many needs of families and individuals who’ve traversed thousands of miles and unimaginable adversities.

Being resilient, creative and patient is critical for refugees and internationals coming to the United States. Now that they are here, there are at least two things you can do to help them find new life in their new neighborhood.

1. Give your time

In every culture, time is a common commodity. Everyone has it. Everyone spends it. But how your time is spent shows what you value. Coming to Clarkston means spending your time investing in the beautiful worth of our international neighbors. It will also speak to refugees in a language they can understand— a language not from your mouth but from your heart. Sharing coffee or eating lunch, helping a child with homework, sitting at a park with families, these are simple activities that encourage the nations who are now our neighbors. As a Christ follower, the greatest investment you can make in any community, is yourself.

When I was growing up, my Mom often asked, “How do you spell ‘love’?”

I had been taught the correct way to spell this word, but she wanted to make sure I remembered the other way to spell it. “Mom, you spell ‘love’ as T-I-M-E.”

“That’s right!” The smile on her face reminded me this advice applied to all of life.

Mom was right. Even though we don’t spell love as T-I-M-E, the concept teaches us a valuable lesson. When you can’t share a language, sharing your time means just as much.

2. Share your interest

Finding shared or unique interests with refugees can help you connect with them in genuine and natural ways. Do you like to knit or sew? Are you an avid gamer? Do you love to play soccer? There are many things we can connect over. Sharing your interests with international friends is a fun way to help them feel at home. Just like you, they are dealing with many stresses so enjoyable activities and hobbies can bring relief from the daily grind they experience.

You may not be fluent in Arabic, Swahili or Burmese, but if you’re fluent in computers, cooking, cars, coffee or sports you’ll make many friends in Clarkston.

While it is helpful to donate an item or money, life transformation really happens when we give our time and share our interest with others.

Lorna Bius is a Send Relief Missionary in Clarkston, Georgia.

Send Relief. Meet a need, build a relationship, change a life.

Published July 2, 2018