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I Was a Stranger—An Effort to Help Refugees

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”   Matthew 25:35-36

40 Ways to Help Refugees in Your Community.

Need ideas on how to help refugees? Here are 40 things you can do to help refugees in your community.


Getting Involved

Wondering how to get involved in helping refugees? These resources can help you and your family find opportunities to lift and serve within your community.

Five Ways to Get Started:

  • Get informed about the needs in your community
  • Volunteer with an organization you admire
  • Make a new friend
  • Do something you enjoy with someone new
  • Invite someone to your family night

Seven Challenges Refugees Face:

  • Learning a new language
  • Building a new support network of friends
  • Understanding different cultural customs and practices
  • Providing the appropriate academic support for their children
  • Accessing basic services, such as medical care
  • Finding transportation
  • Securing employment

Want more ideas on helping refugees?

Check out our blog.

Local Organizations That Might Need Volunteers:

  • Government resettlement agencies
  • Schools
  • Religious places of worship
  • Interfaith groups
  • Low-income health clinics
  • Local nonprofits
  • Community centers

In the United States, members can find local service opportunities at 211.org or JustServe.org to learn about opportunities to serve refugees in their communities. Outside the United States, leaders can contact their area welfare manager for help in identifying trusted organizations in their area.

Five Questions to Ask When Identifying Potential Organizations:

  • Whom do you help?
  • How are you helping them?
  • What needs would you like to address but aren’t able to?
  • Beyond financial contributions, how can I help?
  • How do the services you offer help people to eventually meet their own needs?

As the worldwide refugee crisis has worsened in recent years, LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, has responded by developing a three-pronged approach for helping refugees: immediate relief, long-term aid, and resettlement support.

LDS Charities works with many trusted partners—both local and global—who support refugees, including:

LDS Charities also works with refugee resettlement agencies such as the ones on this list.

In addition to helping refugees, LDS Charities provides aid with disaster relief, clean water and sanitation, wheelchairs, maternal and newborn care, immunization campaigns, vision care, and family gardening. Learn more about the Church’s global humanitarian work.

“One of the fundamental principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is to ‘impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, . . . administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants’ (Mosiah 4:26). . . .

“. . . ‘I Was a Stranger’ gives sisters a way to serve as individuals, in families, and in organizations and to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service to the refugees in our midst. . . .

“Sisters may participate in this effort when time and circumstances allow, making sure that no one is expected to ‘run faster than [she] has strength’ and that all ‘things are done in wisdom and order’ (Mosiah 4:27).”

Read the full letter from the First Presidency.

Additional Resources

Thomas S. Monson, “Love—the Essence of the Gospel,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 91-94

Henry B. Eyring, “The Caregiver,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 121-24

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 68-75

“The relief effort ‘I Was a Stranger’ focuses on serving refugees in our local neighborhoods and communities. It is just one of many ways women, young women, and girls in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary can lift and bless those in need (see Matthew 25:35Leviticus 19:34).”

Read the full letter from the general auxiliary presidents.

Additional Resources

Linda K. Burton, “I Was a Stranger,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016

Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Sisterhood: Oh, How We Need Each Other,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 119-21

Rosemary M. Wixom, “Discovering the Divinity Within,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 6-8

Local Leader Guidelines

Church Announcement of Refugee Support

As you prayerfully seek the guidance of the Spirit, you will be guided to opportunities to serve according to your individual and family circumstances.

Look around your neighborhood, school, workplace, and other places you visit often for those who might need your help and your love. Opportunities to effectively assist refugees are also often available in local civic, community, or church organizations.

As you discover ways to make a difference in your area, share your experiences and help inspire others to get involved.

“We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. . . . We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”

Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 86

Share My Experience (via email or social media)
IWasAStranger@ldschurch.org 
#IWasAStranger


Video Library

Check out our video library to see clips of how members are serving refugees.

Refuge from the Storm Tens of millions of people have been displaced from their homes due to conflict and famine—half of these individuals are children. Elder Patrick Kearon speaks about the Savior’s experience as a refugee, and how we can follow His example to be models of love and compassion refugees and strangers among us.
Scout Troop Learns that Helping Refugees is as Easy as Riding a Bike For refugees new to the United States, transportation can be a huge obstacle. Not having been taught to drive and not having access to a car, they are often left on their own to figure out how to use public transportation. On top of that, they may not speak much if any English. Seeing the need, a local Boy Scout troop teamed up with the International Rescue Committee to build bikes for refugees in need of better transportation.
Refugee Baby Shower: Giving One Family a New Start When relief society president Sylva Christenson and her counselors heard how anxious their relief society was to heed the call they decided to put together a relief society baby shower for a new refugee mother.
How to Help Refugees: Volunteer at a Local School For young refugees, attending a new school and learning a new language is overwhelming. But no matter how isolated they might feel in their new, foreign surroundings, they are never alone. People are ready to help—and you could be one of them.
Be a Sincere Friend: Mentoring Refugees Fatou, a refugee from Ivory Coast, and Toni share a love for cross-country running and develop a friendship far beyond the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Invite a Refugee to Dinner Milan and her daughters are refugees from Bhutan. Michelle and her family meet them and invite them over to cook dinner together and learn about each other’s culture.
When We Were Strangers When Latter-Day Saints were forced to flee from Missouri, USA, in 1839, the citizens of Quincy, Illinois, offered refuge, as reflected in the writings and experiences of Elizabeth Haven Barlow.
I Was A Stranger: Love One Another When one woman helped a young refugee from the Ivory Coast, her service created a friendship that blessed them both.

See What Others Are Doing to Help Refugees

When you share your experiences on social media using #IWasAStranger, they may show up below. You can also share your experiences by emailing IWasAStranger@ldschurch.org.