An Information Session about Syrian Refugees

By David Kirk McCleary, Outreach Pastor

Posted on April 15, 2015

St. Paul’s is prayerfully considering how to live out Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbours as ourselves by exploring the opportunity to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come live in safety in Canada.

We are holding an information meeting next Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m. A representative from the Anglican United Refugee Alliance (AURA) will be there to speak with us about the process of sponsoring a refugee family to come to Canada. All are welcome to attend and join the conversation. 

There seems to be nothing but bad news coming out of the Middle East these days – bombings, war, reports of human rights abuses and misery on a scale that it is hard to wrap our heads around.

The United Nations estimates:

•    About 5.6 million children are in dire need inside Syria – 2 million of them are cut off from any kind of humanitarian help.
•    Close to 4 million people have fled Syria and are now refugees – many of them Christians.
•    The extremist group Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, were documented as being responsible for systematic and widespread violations of human rights including targeting civilians, kidnappings, and executions.
•    Millions of people have fled from Syria to places like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq. Developing countries host over 85 per cent of global refugees.
•    More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria in the five year conflict.

It would be easy to turn a blind eye to this human tragedy unfolding on the other side of the ocean. But thankfully, we at St. Paul’s, and the Anglican Church of Canada through groups like AURA, understand we are in no way separate from the sufferings of those around us – even the suffering of people half a world away.

But how is addressing a global issue living out the Gospel locally at St. Paul’s? We run a successful Outreach program here on Monday and Wednesday nights called the ESL Café, a conversational English improvement group. It is a place where we offer our time, space, expertise and friendship to people seeking to improve their English by speaking with native English speakers. We get people from all walks of life, all circumstances and from all over the world. Several of those people are from places right at the centre of these bloody conflicts.

Months before it was big news over here, one of these students asked to meet with me. He asked one simple question: “David Kirk, is there anything you can do to help my family?” And though I wanted to help, all I could do was point him to AURA. I have never forgotten the look in his eyes as he thanked me for the little help I could offer him then.

Nabil* put a human face on the staggeringly, near incomprehensible facts and figures we encounter around this continuing human tragedy unfolding daily.

We thank God for those who have been deeply touched by this issue. People who have approached us asking what we were doing to help, and offering their help.

Thankfully there are those in our midst who see not merely facts and figures, but rather the faces of others far away. They read the headlines and see not a stranger but rather, as Jesus commanded, a neighbour. A neighbour in need of help, support and rescue in the midst of these horrific circumstances.

Join us on April 20 at 7 p.m. to learn more about this important initiative.

*Name changed to help ensure his safety and the continued safety of his family who are still in Syria trying to get out.