June 21st is #WorldRefugeeDay, a day meant to recognize and honor refugees and highlight ways to support them. Right now the number of forcibly displaced people around the world is more than 100 million. That’s a number that’s easy to gloss over, but hard to wrap my brain around if I really try to. Every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution, or terror. Think about that. That’s like you, your family, and maybe 3-4 other families on your street having to flee all that you know and love in the next 60 seconds. And then it happens again the 60 seconds after that with a few other families. And then again, and again, and again, without stopping. It wouldn’t take that long to clear out your entire city, or your whole region. This is what is happening in places like Ethiopia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Venezuela, Congo, and South Sudan every day. These families have had to make unimaginably difficult decisions when fleeing their homes. But while they can only carry so much, refugees bring countless gifts to their new communities: hopes and dreams, experiences and talents, traditions and family stories, resilience, and determination. Contrary to many peoples' opinions, the facts are that refugees make our country better, and refugee neighbors make our lives richer. And for those of us that are followers of Jesus, we should be looking at the issues of displacement and immigration from a biblical and missional perspective. God has used the movement of people throughout time to further His purposes and bring people to Himself. He is always at work amidst chaos and tragedy. In addition, Jesus talked a lot about how we should treat the foreigner or the immigrant that lives among us. He also displayed the idea of extending radical welcome to the outsider throughout His life. Over and over again in the scriptures, we are reminded not to oppress or mistreat the foreigner, but instead to love and seek justice for them. I personally have found that when I live out this ethic of biblical welcome, I often find myself on the receiving end of radical hospitality, beautiful friendships, and a deeper understanding of who God is and how He is working in the world. Now more than ever, people fleeing war and persecution need our support, our love, and our welcome. By supporting UrbanPromise Nashville, you are helping show our refugee neighbors that they are seen, loved, and welcome here. Our heart is to bring the outsider in and show them that they have a place at the table. Below are some ways that you can support refugees by supporting the work of UPN: Volunteer -- Volunteers help support our mission and increase our capacity to serve. We couldn't do what we do without them! Volunteers also mean lower overhead costs and more resources go towards transforming lives. If you'd like to serve with us, please fill out the interest form here. Provide snacks -- Every day we give our campers a healthy snack, which costs around $30 per day. If you would like to drop off some snacks for us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can Venmo us @upnashville and write snacks in the comment line. Shop our Amazon wishlists -- Shop our Camp Rise and after school program list here. Shop our UrbanTrekkers gear list here. Host a small dinner in your home -- Host anywhere from 12-20 of your friends for an intimate evening where our founders will share who we are, what we do, and why this work is important, as well as stories of how they have seen God at work among the refugee community.
Pray -- Behind the people who are engaged in the daily work, there needs to be even more people that are committed to praying for the work. We need others to be interceding on behalf of our UPN team, our students, and their families. If you'd like to be a prayer partner and get special updates and prayer points, please email us at email@example.com. Donate -- 100% of your tax-deductible gift will go directly towards impacting refugee youth and families. Give a one-time gift or become a monthly supporter. Any amount will help, but your steady support gives us the ability to dream bigger, and your commitment inspires us to pursue our vision with boldness and passion. You can donate on our website here.
Share -- Our friends at LilDragon made this incredible video for us that is perfect to share with anyone you think might be interested in learning about or supporting this work. Click on the video to watch.
Our friends at Healing Hands International recently invited our founders on their It Takes A Village podcast to share their story of starting UPN and tell practical ways of how you can engage with refugees in whatever context you are in and why it matters.