Relationship FAQs

How can I start a conversation with a newcomer? What if they don’t speak English? has a number of great starter questions and conversation topics for the beginning stages of your friendship. It is categorized by age group. Some examples: ask them to teach you things in their language, ask about their dreams, ask about their experience so far in America (good and bad), and so on.

What are appropriate boundaries to set?
In everything that you do for or with refugees, ask yourself if you are fostering a healthy friendship, not dependency. Additionally, you are not responsible for the choices that your refugee partners make or for making sure that core services are completed. Set appropriate, healthy time boundaries; our goal is for these relationships to be long-lasting, not to burn out quickly because volunteers are spending more time or energy than they can afford. For more information click

How and when can I bring up the Gospel? 
World Relief provides services for clients regardless of their religious beliefs and we do not want anyone to feel pressured to become a Christian in order to receive services. That said, everything we do should be driven by a desire to spread the gospel in word and deed (integral mission). Try to have organic conversations with newcomers about faith. Ask and answer questions, for instance “Why are you doing this?” or “What do you believe?” Watch out for different issues that people of a specific faith may have with certain aspects of Christianity (for example, Muslims are very insistent that the godhood of Jesus is a violation of monotheism). Check out the World Religions page on the toolkit for more information.

I don’t know anything about my newcomers’ culture, help! 
This site ( has a comprehensive listing of cultural backgrounds of countries around the world.

How should we spend our time together? 
Volunteers and newcomers decide together what they would like to do —whether that be drinking tea and chatting, playing a card game, working on English skills, or going to a local tourist attraction.  Creativity is welcomed! For more resources click ( and (

Do you have any resources to recommend?

  • The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, Farah Ahmedi, with Tamim Ansary, Simon Spotlight Ent., 2005
  • Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard, Mawi Asgedom, Megan Tingley, 2002
  • This Flowing Towards Me: A Story of God Arriving in Strangers, Marilyn Lacey, Ava Maria Press, 2009
  • Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness, Tracy Kidder, Random House, 2010
  • Between Earth and Sky, Documentary by Kalyanee Mam & David Mendez, 2009