As I boarded an airplane for Jordan in early January to deliver medicines from MAP International to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, my church, National Presbyterian in Washington, DC, was making final plans to resettle a refugee family in the US. I was overseas helping stock Jordanian refugee clinics with desperately needed medical supplies while my church back home was gathering furniture and household items for what we had begun to call “our family.” And while I questioned Jordanian pastors about how they helped refugees stay hopeful, my church was holding meetings to train members on how to support our incoming refugee family.

Two weeks ago, I came home ready to share what I had learned in Jordan and found church members excited about the imminent arrival of a family we were finally ready to welcome after months of preparation and prayer. However President Trump’s recent executive order put our church’s plans on hold—at least for the next several months—and thrust our refugee family, along with many others, back into limbo.

For many members of the congregation, the action was extremely disappointing and deeply unsettling. Some joined protests outside the White House to make their views known. We have a diverse membership, however, and others in our church defend the president’s actions and echo his concerns about the refugee resettlement program.

So how does our congregation—and others like it across the country—move forward in ways that unite rather than divide our members? And for those who want to participate in refugee resettlement, how do we find a constructive way to respond while the federal government keeps the door closed?

Drawing on my recent experiences with refugees, ...

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