It's so much more than just learning English

English gives refugee families a chance at a whole new life. And you can help!

Together, we provide the human touch of English in the COVID crisis

With refugees' jobs on the line and tension increasing in families, the human touch of English is needed now, more than ever!

We teach COVID-19-compliant English and citizenship to adult refugees over cell phone video (FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc), changing the trajectory of entire families — so they, in turn, can serve others!

  • Abounding Service staff is still connecting refugees with volunteers, but now it's by phone with customized curriculum so refugees can improve, even in this storm.
  • Refugees need to be ready when the turnaround comes - ready for new, available jobs and opportunities requiring English in the near future ahead.
  • For those of us born in the U.S., our growing isolation at home is warmed by providing the human touch of English!

Here's a recent, awesome example of the human touch of English with Ranah (Iraq, left) & Emily Fourt (right)!

"Ranah and I met just two weeks ago and have already developed a sweet relationship over learning English and citizenship! Today, while doing a FaceTime test run, I asked her if this format would work in the future.

'It's good! Good idea!' Ranah exuberantly responded!

In this season of social distancing, we can still feel much closer than six feet away from our dear refugee friends through FaceTime English lessons. Let's stay at home and continue to love and serve these precious friends as they continue to grow and learn!

This is really great. I am even helping her learn to write with FaceTime. And I am learning we can develop a relationship, even over the phone. I like it!"

~Emily Fourt

Rana & Emily - email

It’s English with a purpose. So refugees can renew your country.

English gives refugee families a chance to revitalize their new home. America. And you can help!

What we do to help refugees and their families

Just because a refugee has made it to America doesn’t mean life automatically becomes great. The challenges they’ve faced make it difficult for them to feel like they belong. They’re required to learn English, find employment, and assimilate into a new society, all within a matter of months. Most of them have no idea where to start. This is where Abounding Service steps in...

  • Safe Place

    We are a safe place for people to learn English together.

  • Community

    We create intentional points of community between refugees and volunteer encouragers so they feel welcomed and accepted.

  • Cheerleader

    We walk side by side with refugee families to help them take the steps needed to overcome the challenges of assimilating into American culture and becoming a citizen.

When a refugee connects with Abounding Service

Amazing things happen!

In 2018 alone, over 100 refugees learned English through our program.

Sada's Story

Sada and her family came to America after years of struggle and devastating loss in Congo. She and her husband, Olivier, began taking English classes and building community at Abounding Service. Now, their entire family is on a path toward unity, connection, and hope. Learn more about her story here.

Helping refugees like Sada matters a lot to our whole team


Gary and Derek lead Abounding Service with the belief that the entire trajectory of a refugee family can be wonderfully changed by giving them the ability to learn English and become part of a new culture.

  • Gary DeVelder

    Gary DeVelder

    Pastor Gary DeVelder is the Founder and Executive Director of Abounding Service. Gary was ordained to the ministry in 1969 and has held positions in religious education, fundraising development, and non-profit administration.

  • Derek DeVelder

    Derek DeVelder

    Derek DeVelder is the Assistant Director of Abounding Service. He was an English instructor for adult refugees at Lutheran Family Services in Albuquerque, NM, and has worked in performing arts administration in marketing and fundraising.


  • “What do your people need?”

    In 2009, after decades of helping people so that they can go and serve others, Gary met Tara Nepal, a Bhutanese refugee leader in Phoenix who exclaimed, “My people need English!”

  • Building relationships

    Gary paired eager volunteers with refugees to learn English in a way that made it easy to jump right in. These relationships built belonging and confidence.

  • Helping more

    Classes at a nearby church gained over 100 adult refugee students, then expanded to a donated apartment in a complex entirely of refugees, and continued over the years in a similar condo.

  • Continuing to serve

    Over 10 years, more than 1,000 refugees have taken English classes at Abounding Service. We have coached several each year who passed the difficult naturalization test/interview and are now proud U.S. citizens!

Our Team

Our Board

Mike Sherer, Chair

Rev. Donna Buckles, Vice Chair

Randy Gault, Secretary

Mike Gallagher, Treasurer

Sarah Eary, Member

Robert Hawthorne, Member

Dr. Jennifer Muriithi, Member

Fr. Ernest Victor, Member

Lead Volunteers

Emily Fourte

Joan & David Loney

Partner Churches & Organizations

Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest

Vision & Values

Our Vision

The marginalized are empowered to serve others

Our Mission

We teach adult refugees English, changing the trajectory of entire families.

Core Beliefs

  • We believe everyone is created to serve others in such a way that those people, in turn, will serve others.
  • Volunteers are key to our vision and mission because of the relationships they develop with refugees.
  • Refugees who learn English will connect, belong, and serve others, changing the trajectory of entire families and impacting their communities.

Our Values

  • Connect

    We value providing opportunities for UN-sponsored refugees to find connection and community. In Luke 14, Jesus says that we are to go out, find the marginalized, enable them to come in, and fill His kingdom.

  • Serve

    We value serving people created in God’s image in such a way that they will be able to serve others.

  • Belong

    We value what God says in Leviticus 19:34. “Treat them (foreigners) as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves.” We want to provide a community where refugees feel like they belong. 

Read more about what we value in our Statement of Faith.

How you can help:

There are a lot of ways to get involved with Abounding Service. One of the simplest and most impactful ways is to support monthly. For only $25 a month, we can take a refugee through our entire program and set them on a lifelong path toward success.

Other ways to get involved:

  • Volunteer

    Volunteer with us as a one-one-one encourager.

  • Make a One-Time Donation

    Give to help refugees build their lives through English.

  • Tax Credit

    Reduce what you owe in AZ state taxes, dollar-for-dollar.

  • Attend an Event

    Come hear stories of life change at our Dessert in the Desert event.

Get Involved

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining us! Fill out the form below to let us know how you’d like to be involved. Someone from our team will be in touch with you soon.