Serving Afghan Refugees in Houston

by Cindy M. Wu, co-founder and Managing Director of Mosaic Formation

        I remember exactly where I was sitting—in a hotel room while on a business trip—watching videos of the evacuation of Kabul. I had the distinct feeling that my life was about to change. At the time, I was working for a non-profit in Houston that mobilized volunteers, primarily within churches, to welcome refugees. The events of August 2021 when Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, was overtaken by the Taliban, were indelibly linked to the lives of my Afghan friends in Houston, one of our country’s top resettlement cities for Afghans, and to my work in resettlement. As I watched the takeover unfold on the news, I could not help but think of the Afghan community back home who would be scrambling to locate family and friends.

            Among the thousands of arrivals to Houston over the next year were Qazi and his family of five. As members of the Hazara people, a minority ethnic and religious group in Afghanistan, they faced several layers of persecution back home. Qazi was an engineer by training, a highly educated man with excellent English who came on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). The SIV is a special pathway designed for Iraqis and Afghans who assisted the US military, a pathway many Afghans have availed themselves of to come to the US. On arrival day, Qazi and his family were greeted by members of my Welcome Team (volunteers from my church) at the airport, a gesture which completely surprised this unsuspecting Afghan family.

            Last weekend, I invited Qazi and his family to attend church with me, the first time they had ever visited a church and the first time I had brought a Muslim family. An educated and curious man, Qazi was open and eager to learn about other beliefs and cultures. Afterwards, I asked him how he was adjusting to life in Houston. He told me many of his Afghan friends told him Houston was one of the best places in the US to resettle, from the perspective of a refugee, and that he agreed with that assessment. For when Qazi arrived, he didn’t know a soul, and he was expecting to endure the hardship of integration on his own. Much to his surprise, he encountered a group of Christians who are showing the light and love of Christ through unconditional friendship.

            For decades the United States has resettled refugees like Qazi’s family. The Bible commands charity and hospitality to “strangers” like Qazi’s family (see Lev 19:9-10 and 33-34, for example), but the complexities of the refugee crisis and concerns over national security often overshadow the call to justice and mercy, and Christians find themselves politically and ethically divided on this controversial and often volatile subject.

            Followers of Jesus who take the Word of God seriously must earnestly consider what the Bible has to say about welcoming the stranger. To that end, I have revised a workbook, originally published in 2017, to help Christians—specifically, Christians in the United States—think theologically and practically about the global refugee crisis. In A Better Country (Second Edition), I make the case that American Christians must acknowledge that the global refugee crisis, one of the gravest humanitarian issues of our day, requires a response from faithful Christians. As the US continues to resettle refugees from around the world, how will Christians respond to this growing population from every tribe and tongue? Have we pondered how welcoming refugees is a matter of our very identity as a sojourning people seeking a better country, a heavenly one?

            For this second edition, I have included a spiritual formation practice at the end of every chapter, as my hope for this study is that it will transform you mind, heart, and soul. I am especially proud that my 15-year-old son’s artwork graces the cover of the book. All net proceeds go towards refugee causes. Please visit for more information.