When Local Missions Is Global Missions: Our Church’s Outreach to Refugees

As a missions-minded church in Atlanta, Georgia, that has sent and supported missionaries around the world for decades (and continues to do so!), Westminster Presbyterian Church has been blessed by recent opportunities to minister to the nations in our city. Only seven miles from our doors is Clarkston, a refugee resettlement city, where there are more people groups represented in one square mile than anywhere else in the world. The nations have come to us!

Over the last 10 years, our local outreach identity has transformed, blending with our global mission identity as we welcome and care for our new neighbors—the nations—in the name of Christ and for the sake of the gospel.

Our refugee ministry has taken on various forms and is still growing and maturing. Partnerships have been key to enabling and providing opportunities for our members to get involved. In fact, the roots go back 10 years to when we first partnered with a local refugee ministry to help run a week-long summer camp for refugee children. We have continued that to this day, every year bringing over 100 refugee children to our church camp, Camp Westminster, where 30–40 of our adult members and youth spend a week with the kids, enjoying the activities, developing relationships, and sharing our hope in Christ.

Being the Body of Christ
In recent years, we have also partnered with the MTW Clarkston team, assisting in various ways from teaching ESL, to supporting families, to helping with weekly Bible story time in different apartment complexes in Clarkston. Several of our church families have also “adopted” refugee families and help them with tutoring and job searches, as well as caring for them in other ways as needs arise. The needs are many, and members who are not able to be involved because of other commitments or life situations still help through financial support or by donating clothes, food, or blankets.

Through these ministries and partnerships, we’ve experienced both the giving and the receiving of blessings that Paul talks about in Philippians. As we’ve poured out our energy, time, and love to our neighbors from around the world, we have received blessings from them that have in many ways far outweighed our investment. These have come through new friendships, sharing joys and sorrows, listening to stories of hope and hardship, being encouraged, and seeing hearts and minds transformed by the gospel. This receiving is not what we necessarily expected, but it has deepened our hearts for missions and fueled more desire, passion, and love for the lost from all tribes, tongues, and nations, whether next door or around the world.

Rev. Erik Veerman is the director of ministries for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

This year’s pre-conference to the PCA Global Missions Conference is “Welcoming the Refugee.” Join us in Dallas November 9–10 to learn about refugee and immigration issues from ministry experts. You’ll hear powerful stories of changed lives and find out how you can be part of a worldwide kingdom movement to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the displaced. Learn more at www.mtw.org/preconference.



Erik Veerman on Aug 3, 2017

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Churches in the U.S. are increasingly ministering to refugees and other internationals around them. Pray for God to use these efforts to draw many to Himself.

Please pray for the refugees in Metro Atlanta we are seeking to serve. Pray they would know the love of Christ.

Pray for students considering going on summer trips and internships as they make decisions. 

Pray for college students to participate in global missions. Pray that they would a catch a vision for missions that would stay with them long term.

Pray for MTW's ministry to refugees in Greece, Germany, Ukraine, Uganda, Panama, and the U.S.

Pray for the Cherokee people and our ministry alongside them. 

Pray for churches to grow in passion for unreached people groups and to mobilze members to give and serve.

Pray for Muslims who are investigating the truths of Christ in the Bible to come to the conclusion that He is God.

Pray that we would see Muslims as people just like us, with families, jobs, fears, and hopes. People who need the love of Jesus just as we do.

Give thanks for those who participated in short-term missions this summer. Pray that God would continue to encourage them toward missions.