What Is the “I Was a Stranger” Effort?
In March 2016, the General Auxiliary Presidencies announced the “I Was a Stranger” effort. During the general women’s session of conference, Linda K. Burton, the Relief Society General President, introduced the effort and encouraged all to find ways to serve refugees and those in need in their local communities.
This effort followed a letter released by the First Presidency in October of 2015. The statement “invite[d] Church units, families, and individuals to participate in local refugee relief projects, where practical.”
Since the introduction of the “I Was a Stranger” effort, countless members have reached out their hands and hearts to welcome and befriend the strangers around them. Members have found individualized and meaningful ways to serve that fit their own needs as well as the needs of those being served.
How to Participate
In her March 2016 talk, Sister Burton invited those wishing to help to start on their knees in prayer. She advised members to “prayerfully determine what you can do—according to your own time and circumstance—to serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities.”
After praying, look for ways that you can make a difference. The Lord will guide you to opportunities that fit your individual needs and circumstances.
Consider searching for local refugee agencies. Ask them what needs exist, and see what you can do to help. If your community doesn’t have a refugee organization, find another local agency that you can serve with. There are many organizations doing good and helping others, even if those “others” aren’t specifically refugees. Every community has people who are in need—find ways to reach out to them. Befriend those who are lonely and in need of a friend.
If everyone serves in their communities—even in simple and small ways—a lot of good can be done. As you find ways to serve, not only will you be blessed for your efforts, but those in need will be lifted.
You can make a difference in your community as you find ways to love and serve as the Savior would.