ABHMS calls on American Baptists to welcome and advocate for Afghans seeking refuge
VALLEY FORGE, PA (11/15/21)—Since World War II, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has helped resettle more than 100,000 refugees. In light of the Afghan crisis, the organization is asking American Baptists to continue this long tradition of welcoming evacuees to the United States.
“Remembering the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35—‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’—we ask our American Baptist family to welcome Afghans seeking refuge,” says the Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte, ABHMS senior associate for Grants, Partnerships and Strategy Alignment. “In doing so, we recognize the face of Christ in the migrant and the refugee.”
In that spirit, ABHMS has joined with more than a dozen faith leaders in signing an ecumenical statement in support of Afghan evacuees, advocating for immediate safe evacuation and humanitarian protection. The statement, issued by Church World Service (CWS) and the National Council of Churches and its 37 member denominations, invites “all people of faith to join together in prayer, love and action to protect vulnerable Afghans fleeing violence and persecution.”
People of faith are called upon to provide humanitarian protection for Afghans in harm’s way and to do everything in their power—including assistance with housing, nourishment, legal services, advocacy, donations and case management—to show solidarity, support and welcome to our Afghan neighbors. Of particular concern is the temporary immigration status currently being afforded these refugees as they arrived in the U.S. via “humanitarian parole.” Advocates are calling on Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to help provide permanent protections.
Since September, 50,000 Afghans seeking refuge and safety have arrived in the United States. Another 15,000 are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. CWS, ABHMS’ ecumenical partner, is one of the key organizations helping them resettle into new lives. “They will need help with everything that we, as a community, can offer,” says Chhangte.
The CWS nationwide network will be representing this collective effort to the federal government. But the attempt to offer housing, legal assistance, case management, mental health support, medical care, school enrollment and community sponsorship will have to be a joint one. She adds, “This is where our American Baptist church family and people of faith come in. They can sign up to sponsor Afghan families with resettlement agencies like CWS and provide assistance through its Community Sponsorship Program.”
Churches and individuals can also give to One Great Hour or Sharing and designate it for Afghan refugees. Provided below are links to the Community Sponsorship Program as well as links to donate to help Afghan refugees and other ways individuals and churches can lend support.
To sponsor an Afghan family
- Click here to sponsor a family arriving in your community. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Reach out to your closest local refugee resettlement office: Click here for an interactive map to help you find your closest resettlement office. Click here for a state-by-state directory with contact information for each office.
- Are you a landlord who has rental units that you are willing to rent to newly arriving Afghan families? Email email@example.com to learn more about how you can be involved in providing a safe place to land for our Afghan neighbors.
To contribute financially
- To donate via One Great Hour of Sharing to support newly arriving Afghan families—particularly in securing housing—visit https://abhms.org/support-afghan-evacs.
- Financial contributions can be sent through your local American Baptist church or via check payable to ABHMS and mailed to the attention of Kim Wilkins at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406. Write “OGHS–Afghan Refugees” on the memo line. One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs.
To advocate for refugees and those at risk of religious persecution and minority groups
- Join #EvacuateOurAllies in telling Congress to #KeepOurPromise to our Afghan neighbors & #Advocate4Afghans by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act: bit.ly/PassAAA.
- Email your members of Congress and tell them to urge the administration to evacuate vulnerable Afghans for as long as it takes, create safe pathways out of Afghanistan toward protection and evacuate at-risk Afghans—including women and girls, religious and minority groups, people with disabilities and others—to a U.S. territory, such as Guam.
- See detailed policy asks and recommendations to protect vulnerable and displaced Afghans here.
To amplify on social media
- Click here for sample social media posts.
- This digital toolkit provides everything you need to advocate for the Afghan Adjustment Act.
- We Are All America’s Afghan Rapid Response Toolkit.
- Refugee Council USA’s Afghanistan Social Media Response Toolkit for more sample posts, graphics, talking points and other messaging guidance.
- Accounts to tag include: @StatePRM @WHNSC @SecBlinken @WhiteHouse.
Influence the public narrative through media
- Write an opinion editorial or letter to the editor in your local paper using this op-ed writing guide. Sample op-eds are here and here.
- Mobilize a vigil, event or press conference to raise awareness. Invite the media in your region. See Welcome with Dignity resources on how to mobilize such an event.
- Contact your local Afghan community group or refugee agencies to ensure the Afghan voices and leadership are lifted up.
Chhangte adds, “We can do more in solidarity with other people of faith than we could do alone. Please join us in welcoming our neighbors and give generously to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering for Afghan refugees.”
Churches who are sponsoring Afghan families are encouraged to contact the Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte at Rothangliani.Chhangte@abhms.org or 610.768.2426 to receive support, for resources and for networking purposes.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.