Home Pastors Our Church Sponsored a Refugee Family—It Bridged the Political Divide.

Our Church Sponsored a Refugee Family—It Bridged the Political Divide.

Refugee Family

The divisiveness of this election year is reminding me how welcoming a refugee family united our politically diverse community.

As we passed the second anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and also International Women’s Day in early March, both markers are meaningful to my church in New Hampshire. In 2022, we welcomed a refugee family with five daughters from Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul. 

The impact of welcoming this family has been positive for our small church and community. At a time when America faces another election and our politics divides us more than ever, this act united us. It holds valuable lessons for the country, and I hope that when they hear about it, other pastors and community leaders across America decide to follow our lead. 

After seeing desperate families crowd the Kabul airport, our church volunteered to welcome refugees through a pilot initiative from the U.S. State Department that expands beyond the excellent work refugee resettlement agencies are already doing.

You only need five people in your community to come together and agree to welcome a refugee family. Through the State Department’s program Welcome Corps, our church partners with Community Sponsorship Hub and WelcomeNST, organizations that empower and train people like you and I to be in private sponsor groups all over the country.

This work is a bridge in our community. It offers hope for divided communities across America. We have seen people on different sides of the political spectrum unite to help refugee families. For example, March 28, 2022 was the first day of school in New 

Hampshire for the two teenage Afghan girls. On the same day, the Taliban announced the end of school for girls in their country. Their parents cried as the doors closed on the yellow bus. For those on different political sides, this story of the first day of school for the two Afghan girls here began to unite them. 

To begin with, some members of our church were concerned about welcoming immigrants, even from war-torn countries. And yet when they met the Afghan family, they recognized a family like their own. One of our church members is a good example of what I mean. By his own admission, he is conservative on immigration and his social media offers the latest hot takes. Still, he agreed to teach the Afghan father, Mohammad, to drive. The two men found respect for each other, and a friendship bloomed.

Months later, the conservative church member went in for surgery and when Mohammad heard the news, something remarkable happened. Mohammad drove to the hospital, brought flowers, and sat with his new friend through his recovery. Now the two men have inspired others in our community to see past labels and division. Theirs is a story about two people finding a common connection. It transcends lazy soundbites and partisan politics. 

Whatever our politics, most of us aspire to be kind, generous, and have the depth of character to help vulnerable people. But living in America in 2024 can make that difficult. Welcoming refugees has helped our community to be generous and kind. It’s a simple act, but it has turned us into better people.

Worried about increasing divisions in our church and community, we asked: What do we want to stand for? Welcoming the stranger is our answer, drawn from Jesus’s teachings. In the gospel of Matthew, he also talks about giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothing those in need. These are things all of us can stand for if we have the simple courage to follow through.