Five Phases of Refugee Discipleship: Phase V – Disciple-Maker

The final phase entails launching disciple-makers within the migrant culture to aid in the creation of disciples within the people group. Navigators representatives have successfully encouraged believers from the recent migrant population to make other disciples in their cultural context. One of the refugees that the Navigators have been working with is a Christian believer from Afghanistan. This individual is called Ashir (not their real name) and was part of a Christian nonprofit organization before the sudden evacuations of the country. Ashir was quickly integrated with the Christian community in Dallas. Ashir was encouraged to start a house church for Afghan refugees that is currently ongoing. Ashir was also connected with members of the Navigators Business As Mission ministry that donated a percentage of the business proceeds to help Ashir fund its house church expenses.[9]

Five Phases of Refugee Discipleship: Phase IV – Intentional Discipleship

Phase IV focuses on intentional Christian discipleship. There are a variety of approaches to discipleship; however, recent migrants frequently require intentional acts of love as the central component of the discipleship process. Hanna Shahin described a similar technique by beginning a “soccer” church in the Middle East by going out daily to play football with a group of children, conversing, eating, praying, and studying the Bible with them.[7] Heider Baker, a missionary in Mozambique, describes this kind of love for others as the “fragrance of Jesus to a lost and dying world.”[8]This approach to cross-cultural discipleship has proven effective in many areas, including communities that may be hostile to the gospel’s message. The first step is to ensure they are ready for the gospel. The ministry team can tell when recent migrants are more engaged with spiritual discussions and more open to the Christian message that the team represents, not just the services that help remove “boulders” to their transition.

Five Phases of Refugee Discipleship: Phase III – Acts of Service

In the third phase, the emphasis is placed on identifying significant obstacles, or “boulders,” that could make it difficult for the individual to adjust to life in the United States or decide to follow Jesus. Along with the proclamation of the words of faith to recent migrants, acts of service should be performed (James 2:14–26). Throughout our interactions, the ministry team encountered numerous obstacles that needed to be surmounted. These obstacles included a family member’s medical condition, the cost of birth-related medical care, transportation difficulties, difficulties in learning English, lack of groceries, difficulties enrolling children in school, finding suitable employment or affordable housing, assistance in organizing essential email, and attending appointments, and assistance in organizing and attending appointments.  

Five Phases of Refugee Discipleship: Phase II – Relationships

Phase II, in addition to the preceding steps of Phase I, focuses on establishing trustworthy relationships (Psalm 68:6). The initial step in this phase is to establish a dynamic relationship with the selected migrant population. This stage was completed by participating in prayer walks at a school with many international students and apartment complexes where recently relocated refugees lived. During the prayer walks in these apartment complexes, it is not uncommon for the teams to encounter recent migrants who open their doors to them. During one of the prayer walks, the team visited an apartment complex, where a large family graciously invited them into their home. The connection between the team and recent migrants was instantaneous and powerful. During other visits, the team used some connections from prior visits as translators to other families. During other visits, the team utilized previous connections as translators with other families. Google Translate is an effective tool for simple introductions and discussions.

Five Phases of Refugee Discipleship: Phase I – Readiness

The first stage of the chronological flowchart represents the readiness phase. It emphasizes the minister’s self-care to ensure they are prepared to facilitate discipleship for recent migrants. Within its migrant population, the United States welcomes people of diverse origins. Whether or not a migrant community is in greater need than other migrant communities depend on their socioeconomic status and country of origin. Others will find it easier to adapt to life in the United States due to the numerous similarities with their home country. First, we must pray earnestly for the harvest field that consists of people considered foreigners or sojourners in and around our communities (Matt 9:37; Luke 10:2; John 4:35). This stage was completed by engaging in pre-launch prayer with like-minded colleagues and friends. We prayed to God to connect us with the appropriate “people of peace” who could help make it possible for the team to minister to recent migrants effectively.