(Note: We now have a closed Facebook group for people not ready to be directly connected with a persecuted Christian or refugee. You can apply to join it at www.facebook.com/groups/1560231830750436)
Thank you for considering being willing to share your life with a brother or sister in Christ, living for Jesus in the midst of great persecution or as a refugee who has fled persecution. As a part of the church, a member of the body of Christ, you can be used by God to be a blessing to someone who may be far away and living in different circumstances, but at the same time is still one with you because of the Holy Spirit who lives in you both.
As you begin this new connection, we've prepared these tips we think that will be helpful for you - just as we have prepared some tips for your connections:
- We have encouraged your connection to not ask for money from you. However, we want you to know that they still may ask out of the shear stress and struggle of the difficult situation they are in. Many refugees have fled to countries where they are not allowed to work and face prison if they do, all the while needing money for rent, food, medicine and an active phone line while they wait to be called for their application interviews. If you are asked for money and you are not moved or able to give that's OK. Simply explain that you are not able to give to them. In such cases be sure to tell them that you still want to know their story and to pray for them. Feeling forgotten and disconnected is a huge, emotional burden for them and you prayers and connection will still help them greatly. If you reach a point where you wish to send financial help to your connection, you may do so through this link.
- Your connection will not be like the periodic, positive interactions people have with the children they sponsor in child sponsorship programs. Be prepared for more regular interactions and communications which will cover the gambit of inspiring and rejoicing to sorrow and concern. The stories and ongoing suffering of your connection, combined with an inability to help or make improvements for them in most of their major needs, will add a burden to your lives along with the blessings that will come as well.
- Your connection may not speak English very well. In fact they may speak very little English and may also be relying on online tools such as Google Translate to convert what they type in their own language into English for you. When interacting, this sometimes requires great patience and slowness to judge. For instance, while chatting the simple message, "Are you there, answer me" may come across as very abrupt or demanding when in reality they have simply meant to ask, "Are you still there?" Remember too that sometimes when we think we have communicated very clearly, what we have said might be misunderstood - again especially by someone who is not a native English speaker.
- Don't be discouraged if you don't hear from your connection for a few days. They likely live a number of time zones away from the one you live in and you simply may keep missing connecting with them. Also, just as we have good days and bad days, your connection does too. They may also be busy, under the weather, or perhaps overwhelmed by what is going on in their lives. You can still drop them a note to say you are praying for them.