Monday, April 25, 2016

I Was a Stranger: Refugee-Focused Service Encouraged

The First Presidency is encouraging Latter-day Saint women of all ages to assist refugees in their own communities in a letter dated March 26.
“We remind Latter-day Saints throughout the world that 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),” states the First Presidency letter.
The letter outlines the “I Was a Stranger” refugee relief effort and follows another letter issued six months ago. In October 2015 a letter from the First Presidency encouraged all members to provide assistance to refugees in all parts of the world.
The current letter includes an invitation from the general presidencies of Church’s Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations to participate in the “I Was a Stranger” effort—which “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.”
For more information on the effort, visit, a new website launched in conjunction with the effort.
Scope: The intent of this relief effort is to be more involved in ongoing, one by one, person to person ministering efforts to care for the poor and needy among us.
Focus: Person to person, one by one relief and support. We are trying to help individuals and families. It is a way we can reach out to love, to nurture, to strengthen, and to minister as Christ has invited us to do. It is a way we can give hope, love, and care to those around us, especially those who may feel along, afraid, or uncertain.
Who can participate: Anyone who has the desire, including individuals, families, neighborhood, or community groups. The key is that this is a personal ministry - not a church sponsored effort.
Where can I start? Prayer and personal revelation are key to knowing what direction to take. Look around your immediate area, at neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, etc. you frequent. Look for local civic, community, or church organizations. Let the Spirit direct you to where you can serve.
I need some ideas: Check out this article 40 Ways to Help Refugees
Meetinghouses can be used for certain appropriate activities, but another 'activity' is not the object of this effort; the object is person ministry. It is what YOU as an individual can do to help another person.
Fundraisers are not appropriate, and local ward budget funds cannot be used.
Share your experiences for I Was a Stranger and inspire others by emailing
What this effort is NOT: It is not 'another program.' It is not a conversion tool. It is not political - we are to serve regardless or race, religion, or citizenship status. It is not an opportunity to come up with great ideas for other people to carry out.
Local opportunities for service include:
Dialing 211 (run by the United Way) to find service opportunities in your area.
(photo courtesy Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor)

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