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Refugee Resettlement Ministry

What is a Refugee?

A refugee is an individual who has a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, who has fled their country of origin and cannot safely return. In the context of the United States, all refugees arriving here have been vetted and approved prior to arrival in the country. These individuals and families are legal immigrants.


Partnering with Jewish Social Services of Madison

JSS-Madison is the only agency in Madison and South Central Wisconsin licensed and permitted to receive and service the needs of arriving Refugees.  Our ministry is in support of their mission.

About this Ministry

Our congregation began a ministry resettling refugees in early 2023 when Ross Lyman, a member of the congregation, approached Pastor Dara about the Madison community’s need to assist refugees arriving from overseas. A small cadre of folks formed a “steering team” and soon learned that refugee arrivals are processed via the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to the US State Department who works with nine national NGO agencies (LIRS, HIAS, CWS, WR,EMM, etc) that work with a local refugee agency. The sole UN authorized local agency in south central WI is Jewish Social Services (HIAS).

JSS finds and trains local partners to help with various refugee resettlement needs. Good Shepherd is cooperating with JSS in Madison and our current “role” has been to procure furnishings, household items (furniture, linens, kitchen items, toiletries, etc), two weeks of culturally appropriate groceries and then set-up the apartments for move-in day by the refugee family. We typically greet the family when they arrive at the airport and provide a culturally appropriate meal at their new home upon arrival. Some of our volunteers, on an ad hoc basis, supplement the transportation services of other local agencies to get these families to doctors’ appointments, take them shopping, etc. While we might be interested in a longer-term partnership with a specific family or two, this is not the area where JSS has indicated the greatest need but rather it’s for partners like us who will :”ready” a place for move-in by a family on very short notice.

Good Shepherd Outreach Ministry provided our Refugee Resettlement Ministry with a grant of $2500 to get us started. The congregation then raised over $10,000 more in donations to help. We use the funds to rent a storage unit for the furniture we procure, for U-Haul rentals on move-in days, and for supplementing our furniture donations when we are in need of certain items.

We resettled our first family in April, 2023. To date, we have resettled seven families as follows:

  • April, 2023 – Family of five from Democratic Republic of Congo
  • May, 2023 – Family of five from Syria
  • August, 2023 – Family of five from Syria
  • November, 2023 – Family of three from Afghanistan
  • November, 2023 – Family of five from Afghanistan
  • January, 2024 – Family of four from Guatemala
  • January, 2024 – Family of four from Democratic Republic of Congo

We expect to reengage with JSS and resettle our next family sometime after April 1…and so on!

Our Resettlement Ministry has approximately 45 members who donate items, launder clothes and linens, pick up donated furniture, shop, cook, donate funds, help set up the apartments, and much more. This does not include so many people – members, friends and neighbors of members, relatives – who donate items that are used to furnish the new homes of the arriving families.

The faces of the families as they arrive at the airport in Madison are faces of gratitude, joy, hope and, sometimes, faces of exhaustion after a journey that may have begun for them months or years earlier as they awaited resettlement by the UNHCR. Good Shepherd is humbled and privileged to be able to help resettle families who have fled their own countries for fear of persecution, war, or worse. It’s good for our economy because of our labor shortage but, more importantly, it fits with Jesus’ directive to welcome the stranger and it’s spot-on with our mission of “Welcome, Forgive. Serve.”


Sign Up to Get Involved

Resettlement Volunteering

Donate Household Supplies & Furniture

Volunteer Opportunities

Housing Set-Up

1-2 Weeks Before Arrival

  • Help Secure Housing
  • Light Cleaning
  • Assist with move-in and set-up

Organize & Collect Donations

Now Until Arrival

  • Collecting and Organizing Apartment Furnishings
  • Assist in organizing delivery or pick-up of large items
  • Transfer donations to storage unit

Welcome Family

Day of Arrival

  • Greet Family at the Airport
  • Provide Transportation to New Home
  • Provide Orientation of Apartment
  • Provide Culturally Appropriate Ready-to-Eat Meal

Provide Transportation

Up to 3 Months Post-Arrival or until other transportation has been secured

  • Provide Transportation to Required Meetings
  • Assistance in navigating public transportation

Provide Mentoring

Up to 1 Year Post Arrival

  • Assist with learning/improving English or help

    enroll in classes

  • Assist with enrolling children in school

  • Assist in development of job skills and job


  • Mentoring in life skills such as banking, bill

    paying, etc.

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