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Bringing the good news home

09 June 2022
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Church-friendly resources for hosting refugees

 
I’m a self-confessed news junkie. BBC World News is my homepage, and I check multiple news feeds daily to address my need to know what is going on in the world. When the same news story begins to show up on multiple feeds, I’ve learned to pay attention. The conflict in Ukraine has been one of those stories, with the coverage almost as relentless as the conflict itself.
 
“Double listening” is the discipline of reading with the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other (Karl Barth’s concept popularized by John Stott). As God’s people, we hold fast to the truth that God is sovereign, even in the midst of pain and suffering, and then we ask where we are to be his hands and feet of grace. The conflict in Ukraine offers an opportunity for many of us to bring the news home.
 
In the weeks after tanks moved into Ukraine, refugees flooded out of Ukraine to the surrounding countries, nearly 7 million (not counting those displaced internally) according to multiple sources. Churches in surrounding countries rose to the challenge by opening their doors or setting up shelters near the borders. Friends in Poland sent pictures of cots and mattresses filling church sanctuaries, and told me that every evangelical church in Poland had mobilized to meet this need.
 
There is half a continent and a wide ocean between my small church in mid-town Toronto and the Ukrainian border, but that distance is rapidly shrinking as Ukrainians take advantage of generous Canadian government provision. As of June 9, nearly 280,000 Ukrainians have applied to come to Canada and nearly 130,000 of those have been approved. Over 40,000 have already arrived (by air and land) and more are arriving every day. While some of these are being welcomed by relatives or friends, many are needing accommodation, financial support and medical support including trauma care.
 
How can churches and individuals respond wisely to this need?
 
Many groups with experience in welcoming refugees are available to help churches and individuals. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada offers suggestions and links to organizations providing aid, including new arrival care. There are also groups across the country focused specifically on caring for new arrivals.
 
Alison Witt from the International Association for Refugees has shared a list of Top Ten Tips for Hosting Refugees to help people avoid some common pitfalls. She writes, “While many individual Christians have experience extending hospitality to strangers, most churches or organizations do not have experience in managing home hosting initiatives. A bit of forethought and careful conversations can decrease the potential for misunderstanding and set everyone up for a good experience.”
 
WelcomeChurch.ca offers a series of short training videos focused on understanding the needs of newcomers to Canada and exploring how we can practise radical hospitality. Its related websites include resources for responding to those arriving from Hong Kong, and a team is working on training videos and resources more specifically focused on the needs of refugees, including those arriving from Ukraine.
 
My own church used the video training sessions to explore how our church can welcome newcomers to our church and homes. We started with a work party helping Matthew House set up a much-needed new short-term housing facility. Paint brushes and screwdrivers allowed us to have a small part in preparing a welcome for these new arrivals.
 
How are you or your church bringing the news home, redeeming the relentless news feeds with the Good News of Jesus’ welcome?
 
Jon Fuller, Welcome Church Project Manager
Melrose Community Church Lead Pastor
 
Author: Jon Fuller


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