"Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
In some parts of the world, choosing to follow Christ can be dangerous, and even life-threatening. Carrying the name "Christian" can lead to physical harm, loss of livelihood, arrest or even death.
Persecuted believers who have been forcibly displaced from their homes live with the added burden of being isolated and cut off from friends and family. Recent Covid-19 restrictions have given us a small taste of something our brothers and sisters living with persecution have endured for years - without the threat of death or arrest when we do venture out.
Today, more than 260 million Christians are suffering and persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Our different circumstances and our geographical location can leave us feeling separated and unsure of how to help. The Canadian International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) provides a practical way stand with those who have lost so much.
Sunday, November 1 has been identified as "IDOP Sunday" this year. A video, suggested scriptures, children's material and other resources are available to help congregations, groups, and individuals pray effectively for our persecuted brothers and sisters.
We know Jeremiah told the exiles to "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Paul too, urged Timothy "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions..." and that "this is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior..."
We can have an informed voice at the table of our municipal councils if we are so inclined. If that is you, I am happy to tell you today about a recently developed Toolkit put together by Cities of Migration.
"Many small to medium cities across Canada face population declines and an uncertain future. Cities of Migration launches the Immigrant Futures Toolkit to help Canada's smaller cities, towns and regions address population declines through immigrant attraction and retention strategies."
There is room for every one of our AGC churches to be involved to some degree in both local Compassion ministries and working in some capacity either locally or globally to bring hope to refugees.
79.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
26 million have been granted refugee status
4.2 million asylum seekers
3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad
2 million new claims for refugee status in 2019
40% of the world's displaced people are children
107,800 refugees were resettled in a new country in 2019
Over and over in our scriptures we see God's heart for the victim, for the marginalized, for the oppressed. God's people have always been His solution to the suffering of the world's vulnerable. In fact, as recipients of grace, it is through the pursuit of justice that we find our way to deep intimacy with a God who loves us and calls us into His work not only for the good of others, but for our own good as well. The work of justice therefore is as much about discipleship as it is about mission.1
So, how can your church get involved? The options below are generally listed from simplest to more complex possibilities. Read through the sliders, then email to let me know which one(s) will be best for your congregation today.
Together, we can make a real difference in the world!
Ads-Up Canada is a group of Australians and Canadians working to sponsor Manus and Nauru refugees who have been detained indefinitely by the Australian government. They are looking for partners in Canada after refugee resettlement was cut so drastically by the USA.
I first heard about Manus Island after receiving an email several months ago from a refugee who had been stranded there. It was a disturbing note as he described living conditions on what was essentially a prison island. I had never heard of such a place, and it didn't sound like something the Australian government would allow, so I went looking to see what I could learn. The facts are more painful than I could have imagined.
What is the Refugee Highway? Where is it? Who travels this Highway?
This 6 minute video will answer these questions and describe how the church is particularly equipped to respond with the compassion, grace and love of Jesus to those who find themselves on it.
We encourage every congregation to watch and then pray to understand how they should respond to the ongoing global crisis.
I had the privilege of meeting Farrukh Mushtaq (far right in this photo) and his brother of Refugees 4 Refugees at the Refugee Highway Partnership Roundtable in Toronto in October, 2019. He was part of a group that had been invited to lead the worship at one of the plenery sessions - authentic Pakistani music complete with harmonium and a drummer like I have never heard before!
Farrukh was also one of the featured speakers, sharing his story of life in Pakistan, the blasphemy accusations, his family's flight to Vietnam then Sri Lanka, before coming to Canada. He and his family have lived the refugee story. He knows what it is like to leave everything behind or be killed, and he knows what it is to be forcibly displaced, surviving as you can in a country that has no place for you.
You may be unaware of the crisis happening in Venezuela right now. A staggering 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving their country every day. Hyperinflation has devastated the economy. People are forced to flee to survive and many make their way to Colombia. The Colombian church has responded as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
Tearfund has partnered with The Peoples Church and Living Truth Media to respond to this particular refugee crisis. They are showing a 3 part Documentary that shares the human face of the story. As partners with Tearfund, we have an opportunity to join them in this response.
In light of the on-going refugee crisis, people will need to pray for refugees, asylum seekers and those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes for many years to come. If you need a few ideas of specific issues, then this list may be helpful.
Many of these items have been taken directly from a document put together by the International Association for Refugees. We have added a few of our own requests that have come from individuals we have been in contact with who have unexpectedly found themselves to be refugees.
The International Association for Refugees has designed a striking and informative poster to raise awareness about the realities of the Refugee Highway and our mandate to love the alien as we love ourselves.
Perfect for churches, class rooms, dorm rooms and the office.
Go to the IAFR toolbox to download file for professional printing (36" x 27")
Click on "Events" above to see events currently available in our communities or on-line.
Through theprogram, the government and private sponsors work together to support refugees in Canada for up to 24 months, depending on the needs of teh resettled refugee. In a few cases, the private sponsor may support refugees for up to 36 months.
These refugees receive income support from the Government of Canada and emotional, moral and settlement support by a sponsor. Some refugees are identified overseas for the JAS program. Others are converted into JAS cases after they arrive in Canada if it becomes clear that they need more support.
If you are looking for a family to sponsor, a family or person to connect with via email, Facebook or WhatsApp, or simply educating yourself about situations of people in the world today, you will find real stories of real people in this part of our website. All names and personal information has been changed to protect identities, since refugee status determination or personal safety may be undermined if sensitive information is made public.
Contact us if you need more information.