For Immediate Release
Voice of Refugees (Anaheim, CA)

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On March 8th, 2024, three Orange County non-profits that serve refugees via different approaches gathered together for a much-needed conversation. With over 40 local church representatives and engaged volunteers attending, the half-day event “Loving Our Neighbors” kicked off with a time of quiet reflection and worship.

Attendees were invited to walk down the hall and read the words of actual refugees in our midst. Before delving into numbers and statistics, everyone was reminded that each refugee is a fellow human being— with names, faces, stories, and family— created in the image of God.

Each organization then took turns to introduce their mission and programs.

Home For Refugees USA was founded in 2016 by Minda Schweizer, who was serving campus ministry when the refugee crisis caught her heart. Without any background in refugee work, Minda stepped out by faith and in obedience into God’s adventure to embrace and equip refugees arriving in America. Today, HFRUSA has trained and coached over 165 “Home Teams”  to help newly arrived refugees to navigate their first year in the U.S. It is also one of the Private Sponsor Organizations collaborating with Welcome Corps, is a U.S. government community service program that launched in 2023 and allows everyday Americans to privately sponsor refugees from around the world.

World Relief is a global humanitarian organization launched after World War II. The Garden Grove office has operated since the 1970s to helped displaced families from Vietnam. Like HFR, World Relief supplements the work of resettlement agencies, by offering support that goes beyond the short 90 days of formal Reception & Placement case management. SoCal World Relief provides immigration legal services and programs for youth and children. In recent years, SoCal WR’s Church & Community Engagement Director Jose Serrano has provided leadership for a network named Good Neighbor Team Task Force that convenes monthly connections among diverse stakeholders that assist refugees in Orange County.

Voice of Refugees began serving refugee families from Syria and Iraq, back in 2009. Moved by the plight of fellow Arabs fleeing war, three friends in Christ— who were themselves refugees and immigrants from Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine— launched a furniture distribution program out of a home garage. Today, VOR welcomes new families weekly through word of mouth and partner referrals. In particular, positions volunteers to journey with families via services such as ESL, food and furniture, driving training, job mentoring, tutoring, and community events. The relational emphasis fosters opportunities to point refugees toward the light of God’s Word and true refuge in Jesus’ love.

Next, a lively panel discussion commenced with representatives from all three organizations. All attendees were invited to consider the facts vs. myths regarding displaced people, to learn about the multiple ways to help, and to share questions for the panelists.

Selected Highlights:

  • While there are over 110 million people displaced worldwide, fewer than 1% of them are formally resettled.
  • Both refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to the same rigorous screening by six different government departments before they are approved for the pathway to residency in the United States.
  • Asylum seekers are similar to refugees in that they flee the same atrocities and seek the same protection, but they lack access to most governmental benefits. After 6 months of filing for asylum, individuals receive authorization to work as they continue the waiting process, sometimes taking 5+ years.
  • It takes a village to help a refugee family, but it is worthwhile as we strive, as followers of Jesus, to love and honor each person created in God’s own image.

Selected Questions:

  • In what ways can we engage and mobilize the youth and next generation to help refugees?
  • How can I encourage my church community to care about refugee families resettling right in our neighborhoods?
  • What are the steps for onboarding and training before serving refugee families in various roles?
  • I give rides to an Afghan family that is so sweet yet barely speaks English, nor do family members appear to be connected to job opportunities. How are they able to afford the expensive rent in the long term?
  • Where do we go from being heartbroken to playing our God-given roles to help?

Next Steps:

Specific to serving Muslim families:

Bridges, offered by a certified instructor from the Crescent Project, is a 6-week training that closes gaps in your understanding of Muslims, and learn how to respectfully connect. It will involve presentations, Q&A, and hands-on journeying with Muslims through a final week event. VOR hosts this training in person, for a more interactive and focused experience and lasting outcomes. The next session will kick off in April 2024! To express interest, click here


Loving Our Neighbors Volunteer Rally succeeded in bringing together organizations, churches, and community members concerned about the refugee crisis and ready to take the next step. We caught a beautiful glimpse of God’s bigger picture in which He prepares and positions His children in all kinds of roles: whether it is to welcome, to educate and advocate, or to journey deeply into the heart, in order to show His love to all people who are displaced from home and far from Him. Through this tapestry of gifts, we see how God never lets us go, no matter how far we think we have drifted, no matter how much we feel abandoned. Jesus our Lord calls us to join Him in His long-suffering love for every child, every woman, every man, every one created in His own image. But this event is just a beginning, as each attendee now must consider: Will I now return to my busy life, unchanged, or will I take on a new way of living: of seeing the least of the brothers and sisters of Christ, and loving them in action?

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:37-40