Three Ways to Join the Bishop’s Challenge

Learn and listen to refugee stories during Lent.

February 19, 2024 | ,

As we begin the slow walk to Easter, we’re also approaching the end of the Bishop’s Challenge for Refugee Hospitality. The work of welcome never actually ends, but this upcoming Easter season we will take a moment to celebrate, reflect, and share our stories from the Bishop’s Challenge.

Since Bishop Tim Smith invited North Carolina Synod congregations to a synod-wide effort to engage in the work of welcome at the 2022 Synod Gathering, congregations have responded in a number of ways—from collecting and packing much-need items in welcome bags to sponsoring refugee families in an LSC Circle of Welcome to fundraising for our Lutheran partners. Indeed, the need is great, but that’s not the only way to be involved. If you or your congregation haven’t had the chance to be a part of this yet, it’s not too late!

An important part this work is learning about immigration, exploring our Lutheran immigrant history, and listening to our neighbors’ stories. Together, we can work to demystify immigration—moving beyond political rhetoric to encounter Jesus in the presence of our refugee neighbors, grow closer to Christ, and nurture relationships within our communities.

Here are three ways you can become a part of this journey we’re on together during Lent:

1) Organize a Bible study—

Global Refuge, formerly known as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service or LIRS, has a webpage devoted to congregational resources including a Walking Through Lent Together video series and Lenten Daily Devotional.

Walking Through Lent Together This devotional features a series of interviews focusing on faith, immigration, and beyond. Hosted by led by Global Refuge Pastor-in-Residence Rev. Eric Shafer, each week brings their own unique reflection with special guests along the way!

Global Refuge’s Lenten Daily Devotional The themes of Lent strike a tone with the experiences of so many who hope for a more certain future. As you journey through this Lent, explore this resource with weekly stories from supporters and staff of Global Refuge for you to read and ponder, as well as daily reflection questions and prayers to engage with throughout each week for the forty days  of the season. May they inspire renewed commitment in us to the work of welcome.

Global Refuge Out of the Waters Bible Study Download the zip file here.

Haven’t heard about the LIRS name change? Read more about it here.

2) Include the work of welcome in worship

Pastors and worship planners can add a special prayer petition to worship during Lent:

God of the stranger on the road, you walk lost and alone until all your beloved children find home, and you never give up on us. Faith in your persistent grace has led so many millions to leave their homes in search of safety, sustenance, and a stable future for their families. Make your church a body of compassion and welcome, following your call into the world, and following your call home.

3) Watch and discuss videos from the NC Synod and partner organizations

Lutheran Services Carolinas, the ELCA, and NC Synod have videos for you to watch, share, and discuss with your congregation or ministry. This playlist includes all of the videos mentioned below.

ELCA Workshop on the U.S. Immigration System (2019) led by Shalini Thomas from the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (DMRS) of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Texas was recorded for the ELCA AMMPARO initiative (

Bishop’s Challenge – Work of Welcome This video, featuring NC Synod Bishop Tim Smith, explores the work of welcome in the North Carolina Synod. Members of congregations of various sizes and demographics have been engaging in the work of welcome for decades. Just a few of these people sat down with filmmaker and pastor, Jason Chesnut, to share their stories and how God is working in their communities.

LSC: Welcoming New Americans In this video, you’ll hear stories of refugees in the Carolinas and learn about the work of resettlement from one of NC Synod’s ministry partners, Lutheran Services Carolinas, and their New Americans Program.

NC Synod: They Are Us 2022 Book Study They Are Us: Lutherans and Immigration offers “a thoughtful and timely look at the Christian calling to Welcome the Stranger.” This 5-part book study, led by the book’s co-author Pastor Stephen Bouman was organized and presented by the NC Synod Immigration & Refugee Ministry Team.

The greatest act of love is to allow ourselves to be changed. Let us know how you encounter God and your neighbor this Lent by emailing Michael Dickson.


Synod Staff

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