Hope for the Holidays


“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

– Hebrews 13:1-2

Christmas should be a time of joyful celebration with family and friends. Yet, for millions of refugees and migrants, forced to flee their homelands in search of safety and protection, the joy announced by the birth of our Savior this Christmas will seem very far away.

Over the past three years, we have witnessed a stark increase in the number of children and mothers from Central America fleeing extreme violence and an inability of their governments to provide protection. These refugees, some as young as three years old, make the harrowing journey to the United States seeking asylum and protection.

Instead of safety, many find shackles. Each day, thousands of Central American children and their mothers seeking refuge in the United States are locked away in family detention facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania. The children who arrive unaccompanied are housed in temporary government-operated shelters for an average of 30-45 days, until a relative or loving foster family can offer them a safe place to restart their lives.

This Advent season, join Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) in our commitment to break the isolation of mothers and children in family detention, bring hope to those children who arrive at our borders alone, seeking safety and refuge, and challenge anti-immigrant sentiments through extending welcome to migrants and refugees in our communities.


This Advent Season Stand in Solidarity with the Newcomer!

As Lutherans, we have always responded to God’s call to show hospitality to the stranger through ministries of mercy, service and justice. LIRS is offering several ways that individuals and Lutheran congregations across the country can share the joy of Advent through standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees in our communities.

  • Offer Prayers for Migrants and Refugees Set aside one Sunday this Advent to offer prayers for migrants and refugees seeking to escape violence and persecutions in their homelands.

  • Participate in our Christmas Card Campaign and Gift Drive Bring joy and hope to children and families through writing and decorating Christmas cards in English and Spanish. Purchase a gift via our online registry here. Gifts and cards will be mailed directly to our dedicated partners on the ground and delivered to children isolated in detention and to those children who crossed the border alone. Mail cards to LIRS and purchase gifts by December 12, 2016 for Christmas delivery.

  • Sign the Petition to End Family Detention Delivering Christmas cards and gifts is an important expression of compassionate welcome. However, detention is no place for families and children. Help LIRS end family detention. Download and sign LIRS’ End Family Detention petition here. Mail signed petitions to LIRS by December 12, 2016. We will deliver the petitions to our representatives in Washington, DC.


Offer Prayers for Migrants and Refugees

LIRS invites your congregation to offer special prayers for migrants and refugees during one of your Advent season worship services.

Participate in our Christmas Card Campaign and Gift Drive

In 2014, the U.S. government returned to the inhumane practice of detaining mothers and children in jail-like settings in three family detention facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania. Consequently, many mothers and children will spend the holidays in detention, separated from the love of their families and the comfort of their traditions. Join LIRS in bringing hope and joy to children and mothers in immigration detention through sending Christmas cards and gifts. Write a message of hope to a family in detention and then mail your cards to LIRS. We will ensure that they are delivered to families in detention and to those children who arrive at our borders alone.

Tips for Christmas Card Campaign and Gift Drive

The holidays are a time of celebration and community. Organize a fall potluck, coffee hour or Bible Study to educate your community on the impacts of family detention and invite them to get involved in our campaign.

  • Logistics
    Set the time, date, and location for a card-writing event. Consider partnering with other organizations and recruiting volunteers to help. Perhaps you could have a speaker, provide food, or show an immigration themed movie. You can also combine this with a screening of LIRS’ short documentary, Locked in a Box, which follows the stories of individuals in immigration detention and those who visit them.
  • Publicize Widely
    Invite at least 25 people from your congregation to each write one card. Use our church bulletin insert to help promote your event.
  • Write Cards in Spanish
    If you do not speak Spanish, there are simple greetings listed below. Ask children to draw a picture to brighten the season for a child in a family immigration detention facility.
  • Fill out the Hope for the Holidays Cover Sheet
    Download and fill out LIRS’ Hope for the Holidays cover sheet, found here. Tuck it into your manila envelope or box so we know how many cards you wrote, who to thank and can follow-up with other opportunities to get involved.
  • Mail cards and petition to arrive at LIRS office by December 12th
    Place all the cards in a few large manila envelopes addressed to the LIRS office. We hope to have each family in detention holding a greeting card by Christmas Day and individual envelopes will slow the process.


Deadline for cards and petitions to arrive at LIRS office is

DECEMBER 12, 2016

Send cards and petitions to:
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Hope for the Holidays 700 Light Street Baltimore, MD 21230


Common Holiday Greetings in Spanish

Querido amigo;

Querida amiga;

Dear friend,

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas

Feliz Año Nuevo

Prospero Año Nuevo

Happy New Year

Felices Fiestas

Happy holidays

Mis mejores deseos para la Navidad y el Año Nuevo

All my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year

Que tenga una Navidad llena de amor, alegría, y salud

I hope you have a Christmas full of love, happiness, and good health

Durante la Navidad y el Año Nuevo, mucha alegría y felicidad

Joy and happiness for Christmas and the New Year

La bendición de Dios llevando paz en Navidad y para el Año Nuevo

God’s blessings and peace at Christmas and for the New Year

Deseándole un año lleno de paz, salud, y amor

Wishing you a year filled with peace, health, and love


Share Photos and Stories

We would love to hear from you! Please share your experience with your social media networks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at #HolidayWelcome and tag @LIRSorg or email visitation@lirs.org so we can lift up your amazing work.


Learn More

Questions or would like additional support? Email visitation@lirs.org