How to Befriend Refugees

What are refugees looking for most? They’re looking for friends. We have an incredible opportunity to welcome them and invest time alongside them as they learn the ropes of their new life in Nashville.

There are many ways you can help, from helping them find work opportunities within the reach of bus lines to working with their children in school. 

What is a refugee? What are their responsibilities? How does the U.S. government determine to resettle them in Nashville? What are their burdens upon arriving in the U.S.A.? How can we welcome and support them as they assimilate into our local community? 

"And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt."
--Deuteronomy 10:19 (ESV)

Nashville & Refugees
According to The Mayor's Office of New Americans, “In 2012, Nashville had the fastest growing immigrant population of any American city. Nearly 12% of our population was born outside of the United States, and nearly half of our immigrants entered the country since 2000.” 

Refugee Facts
    •    A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his/her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution.
    •    After 2 to 30 years of persecution, trauma, loss, war, asylum, paperwork, background check, security check, and medical check, a refugee may (a) return to his/her home country (if confirmed safe) or (b) seek asylum in another country indefinitely or (c) be resettled in another country.
    •    Only 1% are given permission to resettle – which means “going to live” in another country.
    •    Half of that 1% group comes to the USA through one of ten official resettlement agencies – including World Relief, Catholic Charities, etc.
    •    These refugees are given LEGAL status with an I-94 visa which never expires.
    •    80,000 refugees max are resettled in the U.S.A. each year.
    •    On his/her second day in the U.S.A., a refugee begins receiving benefits. He or she may begin working within the first month of settling if a job opportunity becomes available.
    •    Each refugee must repay his/her travel loan (plane ticket) to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
    •    After one year, each refugee must apply for a green card for permanent residency.
    •    After five years, he or she may apply for U.S. citizenship.
    •    Refugees only receive government support during their first three months in the U.S.
Refugees are faced with so many cultural shifts and challenges upon arriving in the States. For many who come from refugee camps, cooking on a stove or using indoor plumbing (things we take for granted) could be brand new. Other challenges may include paying an electric bill, finding medical care, enrolling their children in school, and – in many instances – learning a new language.

Want to serve refugees in Nashville? Here are some organizations we've partnered with who welcome volunteers: 
    •    Siloam Family Health Center
    •    Sew for Hope
 Or join a CPC Missional Community that serves refugees in Nashville.

Want to learn more about specific cultural etiquette tips? Read these guidelines.