Classic LDS: Refugee articles and stories

Classic LDS Refugee articles and stories

Are you preparing an LDS talk, activity or lesson on serving refugees? Here are some awesome stories, videos, and articles from the Friend, New Era, Ensign, and other Church sources. Great for Family Home Evening too! Please add your favorite LDS refugee link or story in comments!

“We have a responsibility to extend help as well as hope to the hungry, to the homeless, and to the downtrodden both at home and abroad.” —President Thomas S. Monson

Ensign & Church News Articles

Ensign & Church News Stories

The New Era

The Friend

General Conference 2016

At April’s general conference, Church leaders encouraged members to serve refugees. The Church introduced the ‘I Was A Stranger‘ website. Talks that addressed serving refugees included:

I Was a Stranger by Sister Linda K. Burton

Refuge from the Storm by Elder Patrick Kearon

LDS Church News published 40 Ways to Help Refugees after the General Women’s Session.

A diverse choir that included many refugees performed during the first session of conference-


The Church’s Give Back Series of videos features many stories of refugees from all over the world. They are available to play or download from the Church’s media library. Also available there for download are the videos I Was a Stranger: Love One Another and I Was a Stranger—Invite a Refugee to Dinner

Ensign & Church News Articles

2016 First Presidency Encourages Refugee-Focused Service

Article highlighting and expounding on the First Presidency letter of March 26, 2016. LDS Church News Mar 27, 2016

2015 First Presidency Letter: Help the Refugees among Us

Article highlighting and expounding on the First Presidency letter of October 27, 2015. LDS Church News Oct 27, 2015

1979 First Presidency Encourages Help for Refugees

(This makes a nice example of the Church’s continuity of concern for refugees)

A letter from the First Presidency in 1979 that ‘encouraged Church members to support programs helping Southeast Asian refugees resettle.’  Oct 1979 Engisn

1980 First Presidency Letter: General Refugee Fund Established

Article discusses the First Presidency letter of July 14, 1980, and the establishment of a Refugee Fund. Sept 1980 Ensign

(I believe the “General Refugee Fund” referred to in this letter has been replaced by the “Humanitarian Fund”.)

Viewpoint: 1985 Fast Marked Beginning of LDS Charities

A touching account of how LDS Charities got its start when Church members had a combined fast for the famine victims in Ethiopia. After raising 6 million dollars with that fast, Elder Pace and Elder Ballard (then a 70) “visited a camp that housed 120,000 people living in tents. However, it was the 30,000 people outside the camp—those who had arrived at the gate after traveling hundreds of miles to find relief from starvation, only to learn there was a waiting list to get in—who captured the hearts of two visiting officials from Salt Lake City.” LDS Church News January 2015

Storming Back

Stories and facts about the Church’s aid of Hurricane Katrina victims, including giving 4,000 refugees a place to stay in 20 different Church buildings. March 2007 Ensign

New Orleans Members Exemplify the Rescue

Another article about the Church’s aid to Hurricane Katrina victims and refugees, written 5 years after the disaster. August 2010 Ensign

Elder Ballard Visits Refugees during Recent Assignment to Europe

An account of his visit. Quote from story: “You read about it [the refugee crisis], you see pictures, but when you’re there and you see the magnitude of it—when you see mothers and fathers and little children and babies, and they’re all just anxious to get someplace where they feel is more secure—it has an impact. In the case of a lot of the people from Syria, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve been bombed out and are just trying to escape and find a safer place to live. The same is true of the Afghanis coming out of Iraq and people from a lot of other places.” -Elder Russell M. Ballard, LDS Church November 30, 2015.

Latter-day Saints Respond to Aid Xenophobia Refugees

Pictures and account of South African Latter-day Saints responding to the Xenophobia crisis of 2015. South Africa Mormon Newsroom 2015

Ensign & Church News Stories

We Couldn’t Preach, but We Could Love

A sister missionary is sent to serve in a Vietnamese refugee camp on Palawan. There, according to UN standards, she can’t preach the gospel. She can only serve and love. March 1988 Ensign.

The Thachs’ Long Road to Freedom

A Vietnamese service man joins the Church while in the United States. On his trip home to Vietnam, his suitcase with his only set of scriptures is stolen. He isn’t able to get new scriptures, but has 12 copies of the Ensign. He treasures, rereads, and hides his Ensigns for 10 years. An arduous journey awaits his family as they travel to a refugee camp in Thailand, and eventually settle in the U.S. June 1990 Ensign

Two-of-a-Kind Table

Elder D. Todd Christofferson related this story in Oct 2008 General Conference. The story had been printed earlier in the Liahona & Ensign, July 2004.

I remember the story of a Vietnamese family that fled Saigon in 1975 and ended up living in a small mobile home in Provo, Utah. A young man in the refugee family became the home teaching companion to a Brother Johnson who lived nearby with his large family. The boy related the following:

“One day Brother Johnson noticed that our family had no kitchen table. He appeared the next day with an odd-looking but very functional table that fit nicely against the trailer wall across from the kitchen sink and counters. I say odd-looking because two of the table legs matched the tabletop and two did not. Also, several small wooden pegs stuck out along one edge of the worn surface.

“Soon we used this unique table daily for food preparation and for eating some quick meals. We still ate our family meals while we sat on the floor … in true Vietnamese fashion.

“One evening I stood inside Brother Johnson’s front door as I waited for him before a home teaching appointment. There in the nearby kitchen—I was surprised to see it—was a table practically identical to the one they had given to my family. The only difference was that where our table had pegs, the Johnsons’ table had holes! I then realized that, seeing our need, this charitable man had cut his kitchen table in half and had built two new legs for each half.

“It was obvious that the Johnson family could not fit around this small piece of furniture—they probably didn’t fit comfortably around it when it was whole. …

“Throughout my life this kind act has been a powerful reminder of true giving”

My Brother’s Keeper

President Thomas S. Monson shared this letter in October 1994 General Conference; also in the Nov 1994 Ensign:

In May 1993 Danijela Curcic of Zagreb, Croatia, wrote this letter addressed to Church headquarters, expressing her gratitude for food shared by the Saints.

“Dear Charitable Persons,

“I would like to thank you for every good thing that you’ve done for the people in my country. This horrible civil war is a crime which doesn’t spare anything and anybody.  Uncounted numbers of refugees, thousands of dead children are about us everywhere. I respect with all my heart you dear friends, because you showed you care. It’s easier and doesn’t hurt as much when you’re aware of the fact that there are nice people who are willing to help you.”

Heh Reh

A touching story of a man who spent 20 years in a refugee camp in Thailand. He entered at age 12, and left with a wife and two daughters. They resettled in Utah. Mormon Newsroom January 3, 2014

Fredrick Ntabwoba

A refugee family who escaped Rwanda. They spent 4 years in a refugee camp, and felt guided to come to Utah. Mormon Newsroom January 3, 2014

Haika Kim

A Bhutanese refugee who entered a Nepal refugee camp at the age of 14, where he lived from 1992 until 2009 when he came to Salt Lake City. Mormon Newsroom January 3, 2014

Sherrie Van Roosendaal

A Church-service missionary in the Salt Lake Inner City Mission helps refugees adjust. Mormon Newsroom January 3, 2014

The New Era

Bright as the Sun

President Uchtdorf shares some of his boyhood experiences. His family were refugees several times after WWII ended. President Uchtdorf recalls the hardship of these times, as well as some of the blessings. He writes about his future wife joining his branch while he was a teen, and trying to arrange his place when he was passing the sacrament so that he could be sure to pass to her 🙂 June 2006 New Era

Hearts with Two Homes

Three stories of young refugees who fled South Vietnam in the mid-1970s. Eventually all 3 settled in the United States and joined the Church. “We have much to learn from the stories of Latter-day Saint Vietnamese youth who came to America. Each has his or her own story of a war-altered childhood filled with trials and testimony interwoven with strands of tenacious faith.” July 1985 New Era

Sharing Socks

This article describes a Church-wide Young Womens service project. Interested stakes participated. The young women each sewed and decorated a ‘sock’. Then the young women filled it with small gifts, their testimonies, and a picture. The socks were distributed to refugees and orphanages in the Philippines. November 1983 New Era

The Brotherhood-Sisterhood Thing

An uplifting account of a small branch in Massachusetts (1992) comprised of mostly youth from refugee families. Their sacrament meetings looked more like a combined Primary, Young Men, and Young Women’s activity because there were only about 10 adults, including the missionaries! June 1992 New Era

That Terrible Wednesday: The Saints in the San Francisco Earthquake

An account of refugees after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. This includes quotes and stories from missionaries and the mission president in the area at the time. Also describes some of the relief efforts of the Church members in Utah: “In Utah various groups and individuals raised relief money. The Tabernacle Choir joined with a band from Fort Douglas to perform a benefit concert. A week after the quake Utahns provided free lodging, baths, meals, and clothes to quake victims passing through Salt Lake on special refugee trains. By summer, nearly $100,000 in cash and dozens of carloads of food from Utah had assisted the California sufferers.” March 1982 New Era

The Friend

Coats and New Friends

A ward Primary collects supplies and coats, which they give to refugees. They have a joint activity with the local Burmese Branch and present their gifts. April 2015 Friend

Challenges Help Us Grow

An account of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s refugee experience that’s written for children. An activity page is included. March 2014 Friend

Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Tracks in the Snow

Brother Krause was called to be a branch president as soon as he arrived at a refugee camp after WWII. He was still living as a refugee, along with his family, 4 months later when he was called to go on a mission. President Monson shares a story of how Heavenly Father protected Elder Krause on his mission. Sep 2003 Friend

A Prayer in the Attic

Refugee Renate, along with her family, hide in an attic as German soldiers search below. Feb 2015 Friend

Crossing Iowa

The story of Latter-day Saints refugees from Nauvoo in the early days of the Church. It’s written in language an older child can read and understand. Oct 1993 Friend

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