Signs of Welcome

By Paul Carline
Director of Intercultural Ministries, Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada

“Let’s bring 100 refugee families to Canada!”

Considering that our three Anglophone Canadian Baptist regions only sponsored one
or two families a year each, this goal, inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis and encouraged by Canadian Baptist Ministries, seemed irrational. 18 months later we had sponsored over 150 families!

Churches worked with their communities. Churches worked with other churches! Churches volunteered with government-assisted refugees. Churches were the hands, feet and words of Christ. Churches and families were changed.

It’s been more about worship than service. It’s reminded us of how God, in Christ, sponsored us at such great cost. It’s also been hard. It does cost and (like us with God) people sometimes find it hard to trust love and show appreciation.

However, not all refugees to Canada are private or government sponsored. Nearly half ask for asylum upon arrival at our borders. Asylum seekers have no sponsors and often no one to welcome or assist them. They are some of our nation’s most vulnerable people. Here are some opportunities to engage:

  • Directly sponsor refugees we know who don’t have access to government resettlement tracks
  • Help families be reunited with their relatives
  • Support ministry to claimants
  • Volunteer with newcomers
  • Ask God to show us other marginalized people – overlooked neighbours.

We can’t let this end. Such ministry won’t always be popular, but the church must be a prophetic window to the Kingdom of God, giving a glimpse of the community he creates, bringing his teachings to bear on society. We are the Body of Christ – his physical presence on earth – agents of transformation. Never underestimate the Church. God is within her.

A Syrian family receives a warm welcome to Canada by their host, Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church