"When I first came to Canada [I had] a lot of stress because I changed my city, my country. But now I feel very comfortable, especially when I came to this church."” - Lodi Ghossen, recently arrived in Ottawa.

elias ghusin lodi ghossen syrian refugees volunteers food bank1

As seen in CBC news posted: Dec 01, 2017

Every year at this time, the Ottawa Mennonite Church holds a fair trade Christmas market, with proceeds going to the Ottawa Food Bank. Volunteers make it all happen.

This year, one group of volunteers has a special reason for wanting to give back.

computer keyboardI have spent the evening again reading emails and messaging with people overseas. As time goes on, these people are becoming friends. We laugh together, we pray for one another, (I think that may be why my wrist is better again), we talk about our days and our children … and I often cry. May I introduce you to a few?

Let me introduce Bethany*.  Her husband Henry had been a teacher at a Missionary School before being charged with blasphemy. Bethany made the mistake of identifying extremists to police and speaking against them in the media. Their village was set ablaze, with explosives being thrown into houses.

Haitian refugees at Quebec borderIn recent weeks, the number of new asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, crossing the US border into Quebec has risen dramatically. On Friday, August 11, as many as 1,200 people were waiting to file refugee claims in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

UNHCR Representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze was interviewed on CTV News to address the situation. Watch the 4 minute video below to find out: why so many asylum seekers are heading to Quebec, why they are leaving the US, if there is any substance to the fear that the province of Quebec will be overloaded by the sheer number of refugees, and what determines if an asylum seeker can stay in Canada.

Refugees are a blessing to Canada

"Citizens for Public Justice" is a Canadian national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy. Based in Ottawa, CPJ is a Christian voice for social and environmental justice. 

Martha Wiebe is a CPJ Board member and Ottawa Mennonite Church member. She wrote this article to describe the church's experience of sponsoring refugees from around the world for nearly 40 years. 

Granted, it will be a fairly large nutshell, but in terms of what happens first and who does what, this article will provide you with a run-down of the process from initial inquiries to resettlement.

Getting Started

nutshellAs Maria in The Sound of Music so famously said, " Let's start at the very beginning; a very good place to start." If you wonder whether sponsorship is something that your church, or perhaps a group of churches in your community could initiate, the first thing to do is to call a meeting and invite anyone who is interested or has questions to attend. We have several documents that walk a group through the responsibilities of sponsorship, FAQs, how to establish a core team, different types of sponsorships, and projected cost tables.

Subcategories

In the Fall of 2015, we began a journey together into the heartbreaking world of refugees, and the blessed opportunities we have has Canadians to sponsor them. These are our stories.