Many thousands of Vietnamese who fled their homeland to escape Communism are “camping out” this summer, waiting for sponsors to help them begin a new way of life.

These new Americans and Canadians provide a special chance for the Christian community to “show a little love,” as the song goes, in material terms. When Christ saw the crowds, “he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless” (Matt. 9:36). But many of his followers never quite see things that way. Despite all the suffering in the world and all the emphasis in Scripture on helping the downtrodden, relatively few Christians in the West are sacrificially sharing their resources with those in need.

This is the biggest all-at-once influx of refugees that North America has ever had, which accounts at least in part for the much criticized processing hassles in the resettlement camps. The refugees must have official sponsors before they can leave the rustic conditions of the camps and make their debut in North American society. Life in these temporary quarters is by no means luxurious: the refugees are cramped into tents and old barracks. Food is adequate, however, and recreation opportunities are provided, so that conditions are bearable. But the sooner sponsors are found the better.

Sponsorship basically means financial commitment for an indefinite period. Money appropriated by Congress for the refugee program covers little more than initial processing. Once the refugees leave the resettlement camps, the sponsors must pay their bills until they find jobs and can support themselves. Very few of the refugees brought substantial resources out of Viet Nam; most came with virtually nothing.

Sponsorship should also entail helping the Vietnamese with the many ...

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