THINGS VOLUNTEERS SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN SHARING THEIR FAITH:
The connotation of the word ‘Christian’: Many people around the world do not associate the word ‘Christian’ with positivity. The word may bring up negative ideas or emotions in newcomers. For example, newcomers may have experienced persecution, injustice or torture at the hands of those who claim to be Christians. Also, some newcomers may have an unbiblical view of Christianity due to their cultural background. Volunteers are to begin friendships with newcomers by living and serving in a way that truly reflects Christ’s love and righteousness.
The role of religion in the lives of refugees: Many refugees, have experienced tremendous loss, such as family, friends, homes, jobs, possessions. The things they are able to bring to the U.S. are thus treasured, including faith and traditions. The refugees with whom volunteers work with will most likely practice a different religion or belief. With the changes they are experiencing in the U.S., they may cling strongly to their faith, religion and culture.
Position of power and privilege: Americans have more experience as an American student, an American employee and operating under the American system than a refugee does; Americans often have more tangible resources that could give them an amount of power in relationships with refugees. It is important to recognize this relationship is mutually beneficial, as the refugees have just as much to offer the Americans. Refugees must clearly understand that American assistance and friendship is not contingent on their participation in religious activities, nor do they owe this type of participation due to generosity.
Relationship: Many refugees come from cultures where relationships are the groundwork for nearly all aspects of life. In many cases, conversations about deeply personal subjects, such as religion, are welcomed only after a relationship of trust has been developed.