By Claudean Boatman
Literacy Missions Ministries Coordinator
About 2,000 Afghans are expected to relocate in Colorado as part of the United States resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan. This is a golden opportunity for Colorado Baptists, especially those in the metro area, to invest in the eternity of these displaced families.
One very practical way to help new refugees is offering English classes. English as a Second Language ministries can build bridges between non-English speakers and believers, all while helping new English speakers obtain skills needed to navigate their new homes. Colorado Baptists can be on the front lines of ministry with those who have been torn from all they know and are facing difficult adjustments.
How can a Colorado Baptist church begin a ministry to Afghans? Here are some first steps churches can take.
- Seek God for direction. Pray specifically for neighborhoods in which Afghans are being resettled and ask God to help you determine practical ways to connect with them.
- Equip volunteers to teach English. A 12-hour English as a Second Language Basic Workshop is necessary to learn the basic steps of teaching English to beginners. More importantly, it teaches volunteers how to share their faith in a cross-cultural setting. A hybrid workshop, a combination of online and in-person training, is also available. Both workshops are taught by a certified workshop leader specially trained through the National Literacy Missions Partnership and Send Relief.
- Be prepared to go to the Afghan community rather than asking them to come to the church for English classes and other ministries. Women, especially, are needed to build relationships with and teach English to Afghan women. Cultural constraints and fear of the unknown make it necessary for Christian women to be willing to meet Afghan women literally where they live. Going into their homes or apartment complex community rooms to teach English speaks volumes about their value to Jesus.
- Live life along with the refugees; let them see Jesus’ love in your life. In working with resettlement agencies, churches are going to be told they cannot proselyte. However, if Christians are asked about their faith, they are free to share. Be willing to pray for opportunities to share Jesus and wait for them patiently. Your authentic walk with Jesus will open doors for witnessing.
Several metro area church leaders and Send Relief’s Denver Ministry Center are exploring ways to meet the practical needs of Afghan refugees. Request more information about potential ministry opportunities from Derick Sherfy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about English as a Second Language ministries, contact Claudean Boatman at ColoradoWMU@ColoradoBaptists.org.