Table Talks

Wednesday, October 24 – 1:00-2:15pm

Fostering Deepening Relationships: A Conversational English Model

Ryan Pennington

This Table Talk will help attendees form concrete ideas about how to develop conversational English programs that foster deepening relations between local residents and refugees. This is accomplished by discussing the Refugee Language Project’s local model, which utilizes shared group meals, conversation cards, 1-on-1 mentorships, and a community language center to develop English proficiency and community among refugees in Amarillo, Texas.

Refugee Resettlement in Canada

James Grunau 

This Table Talk will address various aspects of refugee resettlement in Canada.  Time will be given to examining the three ways that refugees arrive in Canada – government sponsored refugees, privately sponsored refugees (a program unique to Canada), and asylum seekers or refugee claimants, the Canadian term given to this last category of refugees.  There will be opportunity to gain an overview of the theoretical aspects of all these different pathways to refugee status in Canada but ample time will also be given to discussing how various churches and Christian ministries are responding and reaching out to each of these groups.  Come and hear about church “private sponsorship” teams, various housing models and church/organization partnerships. There will be time for questions and interacting with the models presented.

Equipping Churches for Refugee Advocacy from a Ministry Perspective

Jason Lee

The time has come that everyone serving in refugee ministry in the U.S. needs a working knowledge of the resettlement process, current policy discussions, and how to advocate for refugees. This table talk will serve to equip leaders to equip others(specifically churches) in refugee advocacy and seek to explain current policies for U.S. Refugee Resettlement. We will also discuss broad evangelical partnerships that have formed in the face of our political climate. Our discussion will also bring encouragement to those who face an uphill battle in their evangelical churches and/or denomination(s).

Increasing Capacity through Volunteerism

Chong Bee Vang

Expanding or increasing capacity through the effective use of volunteers. Exploring and understanding the need for volunteers and what they bring. Who are your volunteers? What are the trends and talents your volunteer brings? We’ll discuss how to create a robust volunteer engagement program and how to do more with less.

Syrian Refugees in North America: What’s Happening in Your Community?

David Schupack

This talk will be a guided conversation related to Syrian refugees. Come ready to share your experiences and learn from others. We’ll talk about challenges and best practices you’ve encountered; history, culture, and people groups of Syria; how to pray for Syrians, the Syrian diaspora, resources for doing relational ministry with Syrians, and more.    

Asylum Seekers: The Quest for Refugee Protection

Sarah Miller

A “101” overview of the process and plight of asylum seekers in the United States: How are asylum seekers similar to and different from refugees? What are the critical challenges and issues they face? How are governments responding? What is being done to help? What isn’t being done? What does God expect of His followers regarding asylum seekers? Interactive discussion will help participants identify ways to effectively engage asylum seekers in their own context.

Refugee Mental Health

Jamie Aten

Despite the growing awareness indicating that refugees often experience high rates of psychological distress, appropriate mental health care services still remain severely underdeveloped. This table talk is for anyone who has observed the emotional (and spiritual) toll displacement and resettlement can have on our refugee neighbors, and have felt compelled to respond but don’t know where to begin. The focus will be to help participants garner a better understanding of mental health issues commonly associated with the refugee experience as well as best-practices for providing care. We will draw on research and case examples to discuss how the church can stand in the gap of available services to provide ethically and culturally informed care.

When Evangelism Hurts? Power Dynamics in Refugee Outreach

Damon Schroeder

Power dynamics affect evangelism among those who are vulnerable in ways unknown or at least underestimated by those in power-up positions because of race, class, education, or other factors. This is particularly true of refugees who have experienced oppression and trauma directly as a result of persecution for their faith, ethnicity, or politics. Unfortunately, well-meaning Christians often harm their witness or participate unknowingly in producing “Rice Christians.” Loving and welcoming the stranger well requires recognizing and respecting power dynamics as we lead and equip Christians in how best to befriend and reach out to newcomers. This table talk will address both the cautions as well as the opportunities in holistic evangelism.

Wednesday, October 24 – 2:45-4:00pm

Refugees with Disabilities in the Immigration System

Hannah Vickner Hough

The Immigration system doesn’t have many options for refugees with disabilities. Through collaborations between advocates and community members, access to immigration benefits can be made more appropriate for those with disabilities. Due to poor public health in refugee camps, and a lack of formal language-learning, many refugees can’t meet the requirements to fill out forms, speak English and take the oath of citizenship. The Table Talk will focus on the immigration processes that exist, what accomodations are currently available, and how to assist disabled refugee community members.

Developing a Church-based Ministry to Newcomers

Nestor Abdon

Welcoming Strangers table talk seeks to provide a framework for churches to develop and initiate a coherent compassionate and missional programming for refugees/newcomers in the immediate community, as well as act as catalyst for other churches to initiate their own newcomer ministry.  The presentation is based on the experience of The Peoples Church where comprehensive settlement services/programs in the areas of Immigration, Employment, Language, Health, and Social Support are provided that are anchored on four key approaches: Volunteer-led, Vocational, Holistic, and, Collaborative. The presentation will also focus on how a compassionate/integral ministry blesses the congregation rather than just a blessing to refugees/newcomers. Welcoming strangers can lead to church growth, sustained volunteer involvement, and learning of God’s journey with refugees and newcomers.

Creating a RHPNA Directory Map and other Collaborative Projects

Nate Scholz

In the final plenary session of the 2017 Roundtable in Dallas, several collaborative initiatives were proposed, including prayer, refugee mapping, storytelling, regional roundtables, and more. Many of them have progress to report, and implications to discuss as a network. This Table Talk will be a relevant conversation – a facilitated dialog, exploring next steps together.

Volunteers: From Curious to Confident

Cherie Grey and Bonnie Lloyd

“How Can I Help?” These are musical words to refugee ministry ears!  How do we take an average American, who may have never met a refugee before, from the place of feeling a bit uncomfortable and intimidated to being expectant and enthusiastic about walking alongside their international friends? This workshop will offer pointers for envisioning, equipping and empowering volunteers in your ministry.

Community: The Key to Recovery

Rachel Uthmann

All people are designed for relationship and long to be welcomed into a community that provides belonging, identity, purpose, and practical resources. This talk will focus on the crucial role of community as the foundation for recovery from forced displacement. Discussion will include building blocks and potential barriers to healthy, supportive community relationships and how those are shaped by the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God.

Ministry to Middle East Refugees by a Former Refugee

Insaf Safu

This talk provides insight to refugee ministry through the story of someone who has experienced displacement herself and now has an active ministry to refugees in Iraq. Insaf will give an overview of her life including several years in Turkey, where she planted churches as a refugee, and the current ministry trips she does several times a year back to her home country. Session will include Q and A.  

Mental Health Awareness in the ESL Classroom and Beyond

Hannah Bonifacius

Anyone working in areas of health or education will find this talk beneficial. We’ll explore questions about mental health resources and our role in responding to mental health concerns in our relationships with refugees and immigrants. As meaningful relationships are often formed among advocates, such as ESL instructors, health care providers, in home tutors, or counselors, training and resources can make a huge difference in our ability to respond well and point our students, clients, and friends in the right direction toward health and healing. We will discuss the training and resources both received and desired. Participants will serve as resources to one another and obtain ideas for how to advocate for better mental health awareness and training in your organization.

Marked by Resilience: Refugees in Rural Communities

Shanna Doughty

According to a 2014 UNHCR report, more and more refugees are being drawn, primarily by economic opportunity, to rural communities from their initial urban placements. What happens when hundreds of refugees are recruited by a meat processing plant or distribution center in a rural community? What about when the first hundred turns into a thousand? How does this uniquely impact the receiving community? How does it impact the existing immigrant community? What support systems do refugees give up when moving into a rural community? What is the church’s response? Join the conversation to explore the increasingly common journey of secondary migration to rural communities, the unique challenges and opportunities presented, and practical ways to bridge the gaps of language, culture, and religion by drawing on a shared resilience.

Thursday, October 25 – 11:15-12:30

Situational Leadership

Noah Toly

We often talk about leadership styles, but this can mask the ways in which different situations demand different styles. By drawing from “situational leadership” approaches, we can adjust as the organization, partnership, staff, or moment requires.

Faith and Doubt in the Midst of Suffering

Kent Annan

Facing disasters or helping refugees face disasters can put extra strain on our faith. Alongside the Psalms, we’ll discuss how to navigate this in the midst of your faith and work.

Leadership: Skill Building for Engaged Community Members

Shana Wills

How do you advance your organization’s mission in this climate and stay relevant? Together, let’s think outside the box. (feel free to bring case studies)


Advocacy and Policy in Refugee Settlement 

Sam Tuttle and Kim Drew

Elected officials make decisions each and every day that impact the people and communities our organizations serve. The best way for lawmakers to better understand the needs of the refugee community are for them to hear directly from us. This session will cover tips and best practices for engaging in advocacy with decision makers; from phone calls and letter writing campaigns to meetings on Capitol Hill and organizational site visits. We will discuss what makes a difference and work on developing our unique messages for advocacy with lawmakers.

Praying for Displaced People

Rob Perry and Sandra Ryan

A discussion around creative ideas and new models to help us engage in prayer for displaced people. We will be talking together about creative prayer initiatives that are specifically focused on refugees. This table talk with combine a discussion of ideas and models along with time spent in actual prayer for displaced people in our world.

Asylum Seekers and Church: Reflecting Culture or God’s Kingdom?

James Grunau

Every global refugee begins their journey as an asylum seeker but they are often forgotten when they arrive in North America.  However, with a shift in the number of refugees being accepted to North America, increasing attention is being given to this hidden refugee population.  God’s mission in Scripture is clear: Jesus’ followers are to welcome the stranger. But just how selective is the Church as to which “strangers” it chooses for the allocation of its energy and resources?  

In this Table Talk there will be opportunity to examine the issue of asylum seekers and discover how the local church is uniquely situated to minister to this overlooked population group.  Hear about how some churches are responding and finding an effective opportunity before them in spite of the societal pushback or extra challenges they may encounter. Caution – those attending this Table Talk may just find themselves being drawn into this growing movement!

Big Changes in U.S. Refugee Resettlement

Ruth Famini

Have you noticed a difference lately in the number of refugees arriving to your community, or the places they’re coming from? Even bigger changes are expected for the coming year! What are these changes, and how will they impact your community? What effect will this have on your ministry? This session will provide an overview of the US refugee resettlement process and explain some important changes that are altering the basic infrastructure of the program. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss pros and cons, and consider ways to respond to the changing landscape of refugee resettlement.

Stay Fresh in the Midst of the Fray

John Barcanic

Refugee ministry is hard. It requires cross-cultural sensitivity; the ability to work with vulnerable populations when it seems like the needs never end; a knowledge of national government programs, policies, and procedures; an understanding of local organizations, government departments, school systems, and other partners; an understanding of current geopolitical issues and the history that led to them; the strength to set consistent boundaries; the dexterity to flex with changing socio-political views, staying uncompromisingly committed to Scripture, and much more.

How does one stay fresh in the midst of the fray? This talk will discuss how thinking can be renewed, joy maintained, and deep engagement in refugee ministry sustained over the long haul.

Thursday, October 25 – 1:30-2:45

Partnerships and Collaboration Planning

Noah Toly

Partnerships and collaborations can be rewarding and effective or draining and unproductive. How can we shape transformative partnerships that are more than the sum of their parts?

Language and Refugee Ministry: Realities and Possibilities

Steve Quakenbush and Sunny Hong

Language forms an integral part of a person’s identity and culture. Refugees are typically thrust into language and culture situations that are completely different from the ones they have known previously. What challenges do language issues in particular present for their own identity and well-being? What opportunities do language issues present for greater ministry among and by refugees? This table talk introduces some global trends on multilingualism and migration, and opens a conversation around how these impact ministry among forcibly displaced populations. What are some possible ways we can respond to various language-related needs and opportunities? Issues of Scripture access and engagement are highlighted, but examples of all kinds of language-related needs and opportunities are solicited.

Local Arts as Trauma Healing Modalities

Wendy Atkins

Based on case studies from refugee populations in central Africa, this presentation will detail how the arts (music, dance, drama, visual art, and spoken/written word) effectively aid in healing from the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical effects of trauma. How trauma affects the brain and the role of the arts in promoting healing from the wounds of trauma will be explained. The principles of expressive arts therapy will be explored through a hands-on expressive arts exercise.

Measuring the Spiritual

John Barcanic

Nael arrived in North America with little more than the clothes on his back. Like many refugees, he needed an apartment, a job, clothes, and to learn English. It’s easy to know if a ministry is providing these items. They are tangible and practical. But, Nael also needed relationships. Relationships that work on his behalf are what will help Nael be able to integrate into the community. It’s harder to know if this is happening, but it can be done. Jesus says, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Nael needed more than what is tangible, and more than relationships. Nael also needed Jesus. How does one know if a ministry is affecting eternal change? Can the spiritual be measured without simply counting “decisions” or “baptisms?” This talk will provide frameworks that ministries can utilize to measure spiritual impact.

Friday, October 26 – 9:00-10:15am

Identity in Christ for Refugee Advocates

Rondell Trevino

Far too often,we as Refugee Advocates lean on “doing” for God more than “being” with God. This can create a heart that believes our identity is in the work we do, rather than in the God we worship. In this workshop, we will explore the Spiritual Blessings that give us our identity in Christ in Ephesians 1—we will be reminded of who we are in Christ as motivation to do the work God has called us to do

How to work with Trauma and Not be Traumatized

Dr. Kevin Rowell

Participants will learn about the “cost of caring” for those who work with victims of trauma. The reality is that no one remains untouched by hearing the trauma of others, therefore trauma workers must learn to take precautions so that they are not debilitated walking with others in their trauma. Levels of risk include burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma. In addition, participants will learn about the practice of self-care to help minimize secondary trauma effects. Learning will be partly didactic/instruction and partly experiential. This workshop is appropriate for both professionals and non-professionals.

Psycho-Social Development of Refugee Youth: An Adventure Therapy Case Study

Shana Wills

Focusing on the challenges refugee youth face when acculturating will be the focus of this Table Talk. The psycho-social impact, and very durable solutions will be considered together. Participants will share effective strategies employed to engage refugee youth through a series of case studies.

Helping Churches to Welcome Refugees (Because God First Welcomed Us)

Kent Annan

We can help churches have good discussions across political borders, address real concerns, see welcoming the stranger as a spiritual issues, and show practical ways forward.

A Father to the Fatherless: Foster Care for Unaccompanied Refugee Children

Mary Kaech and Kaylee Kolditz

There are more refugees today than ever before. Most refugees are children under age 18 and many have lost both parents and have no adult relative to care for them. Did you know you can provide a safe home and a loving family for a refugee child who has lost everything?

The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Foster Care Program exists in 18 US states and provides vulnerable children from all over the world a pathway to a life of freedom and flourishing. Come learn more from a current foster parent, an expert on unaccompanied refugee youth in Europe, and a caseworker for refugee foster children.

Reaching the Nations Among Us

Vance Nordman

Come learn how to share the love of Christ with someone from another culture even if they don’t understand English well.  Hear about proven and easy ways to communicate the love of Jesus in the heart language of refugees. Find out how to effectively use the Jesus Film Project smartphone app, the website, Jesus Film gift cards and Jesus Film DVDs.  Besides the classic JESUS Film (in over 1,600 languages), many other films and resources are available that express the message of Christ in a culturally sensitive and understandable way.

The Heart of the Harvest for Healing and Building Community

Barbara Eiswerth

This talk explores how the common denominator of local food can be used to create innovative programs for refugees –  programs that encourage healing, civic engagement, and community integration. We will look at the work of Iskashitaa Refugee Network – a local food harvesting and community-building program that serves refugees in Arizona. We will discuss how similar initiatives could work in your own ministry context.

Friday, October 26 – 10:45 – 12:00pm

Wholistic Stress and Trauma Self-Care

Kaylee Kolditz and Rebecca Ferguson

Kaylee and Rebecca have worked together to serve communities of refugees and refugee ministry workers through the Alexander Technique. AT is a mind/body practice for performance improvement and healing, taught world-wide in settings such as: Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Juilliard, and various drug/alcohol treatment programs.

In this table talk, Rebecca will teach self-directed movements and postures that help with stress, trauma triggers, anxiety, second-hand trauma, fatigue, and more. These empower practices can by used by refugees and people who support them. We will also discuss the usefulness of such practices in your own ministry context.

Advocating for Displaced People in the U.S.

Matt Soerens

In the past two years, as a direct result of federal public policy changes, the number of refugees admitted for resettlement to the U.S. has declined by roughly 75%, and the number being welcomed to Canada has declined as well.

The church’s ability to welcome refugees and other displaced people is severely limited by governmental policy decisions. In this Table Talk, Matthew Soerens will lead a discussion on why advocacy is so important, provide an update on current refugee policy issues, and explore practical opportunities for individuals, ministries and churches to advocate with and for refugees and other immigrants.

Developing a Ministry to Refugees

Dr. Gerry Gutierrez

In this practical Table Talk we will discuss being a bridge between churches and refugee communities and activating churches for refugee ministry. This includes practical ideas for mobilizing and organizing teams,  and coaching people in effective cross-cultural outreach by getting out into the neighborhood. The presenter will share specific examples about using audio visual material, farmer’s markets, and home friendship groups. We’ll also discuss the role of people group and neighborhood research in refugee ministry.

Asylees: Refugees in All But Name. How to Find and Serve Them.

Pat Hatch

While refugee arrivals are low, the number of asylum applications continues to soar. Who are these applicants? What are the qualifications of asylum? How long does it take for them to get a hearing? What do they face, and how can they survive in the meantime? We will discuss what it means for us as believers to come alongside them in the name of Christ as they await a determination – one that could determine their life or death.

Understanding Power Dynamics in Cross Cultural Ministry

Monica Orjuela

When working with vulnerable populations in the context of ministry, Power Dynamics will always be at play. Refugee ministry is no exception. This Table Talk seeks to explore the ways that perceived power imbalances can inadvertently foster American Saviorism, distorted self-worth and dignity of those receiving services, and manipulation. Participants will discuss in small groups ways to affirm worth and develop leaders within the population they are serving, and create a culture of humility and awareness amongst those volunteering.

Healing Wounded Hearts: How the Church Can Help Refugees

Pat Miersma & Kathie Watters

Many agencies and churches, internationally and locally, focus on meeting the immediate physical needs of these refugees as this is their first need.  Fewer focus on trying to help them to heal from the emotional and spiritual wounds they have sustained in the process of fleeing. The tool described and experienced in this Table Talk presents biblical truths along with good mental health principles. The program uses stories, discussion and interactive exercises to help people heal from the wounds of heart, mind and spirit that their experiences have brought them. The session will include examples of refugees who have been helped in this way, as well as how attendees can participate in future trainings.

Asylum Seekers: The Quest for Refugee Protection

Sarah Miller

Asylum seekers face a critical need for safe and stable shelter as they await decisions on their claims for refugee protection. From grassroots host home networks to faith-based and non-profit housing ministries offering comprehensive services, a broad spectrum of asylum seeker housing models exists in Canada and the United States. But how do asylum seekers find their way to these housing ministries? Is current capacity meeting the need? A survey among participants will help identify housing models and experience represented in the room. Interactive and collaborative discussion will help participants identify how they can help as many asylum seekers as possible find safe and stable housing.

Sharing the Stories of Displaced People Ethically: Listen, Translate, Magnify

Danielle Mayfield and Jacob Mau

People learn best through stories–and what better way to bring to light the current issues surrounding forced displacement then sharing the stories of those who have experienced it?

Yet there is a profound responsibility for the storyteller to do right by the person he or she is trying to amplify. In this workshop, we’ll work through common issues regarding the ethics of sharing stories. We’ll discuss the role of listening, identifying our own agendas as awareness-raisers, and more. We’ll share good and bad examples of storytelling, discuss the challenges and pressures of social media, and walk away with some guidelines for ethical storytelling (including practical resources for helping refugee-background friends–the real experts–share their own stories).