Alliance Justice and Compassion resources and promotes the local and global ministries of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada that seek to bring wholeness and well-being to people made vulnerable by circumstances of poverty, disaster, and injustice. May the stories and thoughts inspire the reader to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Convert, Pay or Be Killed"

Our sister church in Erbil providing relief to the displaced
The horrific stories coming out of Iraq in the last few weeks is heartwrenching. In Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, now controlled by a militant extremist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) announced that Christians should convert, pay hefty taxes or else face execution. This is an area of Iraq where these Christians have lived for over 1,700 years. In the end, the second option was revoked and all Christians were forced to flee the city. Most Christians who fled were stopped at checkpoints by militants who confiscated their cars and anything of value they were carrying including money, jewelry, mobile phones - even passports. They had to continue their journey on foot. (It is important to note that it is not only the Christians but other minority faith groups as well.)

The Christians were ordered to leave all property behind, as homes were marked with the Arabic letter 'N' for Nasrani or Nazarenes - an Arabic word for Christian. The extremists intend it as a mark of shame but now many Christians around the world are identifying with it in an act of solidarity with the persecuted!

Last week the Justice and Compassion office received a phone call from an Iraqi man who lives in Toronto.  He had just heard from his family who, to his relief had made it out alive but had lost everything as they had experienced the humiliating reality of one of these checkpoints. He asked that churches in Canada would pray for his family and others suffering in this crisis. He also pleaded for assistance to help his family get to safety here in Canada. Hearing the emotion in the voice of the brother/son of a family who had experienced this tragedy brought the magnitude of this atrocity to life.  

We are in dialogue with Alliance World Fellowship President, Arie Verduijn who is in contact with our sister church in Erbil, the Iraqi city where many have fled. The church leaders have indicated that they are very grateful for prayers and forthcoming financial assistance. They are seeking to help as many as they can who have arrived on their doorstep - literally with nothing!

So what can Canadians do?  

We can pray!! 
  • Pray that Christians in Iraq, and especially from the Mosul area, will know the peace of Jesus, guidance of the Spirit and provisions from the Father.
  • Pray that the displaced families will find sanctuary and that humanitarian assistance would reach all who are in need.
  • Pray that peace will be restored and that those displaced, including other faith minorities, would be able to return to their towns.
  • Pray for the many churches in the region that are assisting those who are displaced; specifically our Alliance World Fellowship sister churches that we will be supporting.
We can give!!
  • We will respond by supporting relief efforts through our partnership with Alliance World Fellowship.  Donations can be given through a local Canadian Alliance church, directly to the National Ministry Centre, or on-line.  Donations should be designated to the C&MA's Global Emergency Response Fund.  
We can consider refugee sponsorship!!  
  • We will inform our family of churches if the Canadian Government issues a special refugee sponsorship allocations in response to this crisis.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Serbia Flood Relief and Recovery

Imagine flood water submerging your house past the roof! That was the reality for many in Serbia this past May. (See post: May 20, 2014) The church in Novi Sad immediately sent a team to live in the hardest hit town of Obrenovac where approximately 36,000 homes were affected. This relief team has been tirelessly serving the neediest families by providing food and hygiene kits, helping to clean out homes and visiting families to bring encouragement. To date they have assisted 170 families. Danny and Vera, our International Workers who are overseeing this response shared that immediately after the tragedy, people were just happy to be alive. Weeks later, as reality has sunk in, there has been great discouragement and hopelessness expressed by many that they visit.  
Ways to pray:
  1. Pray for the families who have lost the contents of their homes; pray that God will provide!
  2. Pray for their encouragement and a spirit of perseverance!
  3. Pray for the relief team that they too would have strength and endurance.
  4. The relief team is the only Christian presence in this town. Pray that as they share the love of Christ, the people of Obrenovac will find new hope and strength and that a church will be established.  
If you are interested in donating to this relief effort, please click here and under Donation Allocation, click the drop down menu and select Global Emergency Response Fund.

If you have time to continue reading, below are a few brief stories of affected families from Danny and Vera: 
This young family came to Serbia as refugees. With the money they brought after selling their property in Croatia, they built a new, lovely home. Flowers were planted, they had new furniture…their son just turned two. The flood water went over the roof, and left the house beyond repair. Since then they have been living in common accommodation, that has been so bad; no hot water, no cooked meals….eating bread and spreads for weeks. They called desperate for food. We brought parcels of food and hygiene items. Just few days after, late one evening father called apologizing and desperate, "Please, we need food. Our child needs to eat." No one has come to even assess the damage, they are losing hope that they will get any help at all.

I have no need for hygiene items, 
I have nothing to clean. Please, give us food.
Father of household above

The family pictured above has been going through an extremely difficult time. Boban has been without work, and  his wife Biljana works a consistent night shift at the supermarket in Belgrade, for extremely low pay. Now their home is beyond repair, and they have lost all their possessions in the flood. Their  little son Filip is staying with relatives, because there is no more home to live in. They have been touched by our visit and help. We will continue to visit them, and they truly appreciate our care.

This family really moved us. Two generations were living in two homes next to each other. Both have been ruined by the floodwater. ALL possessions have been taken away as garbage. They have been sleeping in a motorhome. Each day they work very hard at their homes. Taking layers of walls off, waiting for it all to dry. We were so surprised how warm and welcoming they were. They are very touched that someone wants to help them.
Another household that suffered greatly had water fill the house right up to the ceiling. All furniture, all windows, doors, floors, utilities - everything had to be thrown out. Walls now have to dry out before repairs can begin. Our team was able to provide them with two beds, a small table and a small one-burner hotplate so they can cook. Both husband and wife could not control the tears as they showed us the picture of their daughter that died of cancer couple of years ago, leaving the grandchild in their care. They also have their own twin son and daughter living with them. No food, no money; only broken hearts and depression.

We live on the main road, 
no one stops to even ask if we are alive. 
You have been coming to us, 
and that brings tears to my eyes.
- Father of household above.

This last story is about a home also flooded to the roof.  The family with 4 kids have lost everything. "Thank God for the nice weather," the mother said, as she was roasting some peppers on an open fire outside. The only furniture is a mattress that the relief team had previously brought for them. Yet, they still cannot sleep there because it is so damp.  They stay with friends but that place is small for them all. They were thrilled that we were able to give some clothes and laundry soap. They have to hand wash everything so they are thankful for nice weather so they can dry clothes outside. The father is a welder but currently has no work in this 'dead' town.

We fear for our oldest boy, 
he is in constant fear that water will come again. 
We fear the winter! How will we survive the cold? 
Will I have job to feed my family?
Father of household above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pray for Serbia - Severe Flooding

Paracin, Serbia (image linked from
Paracin, Serbia (image linked from
Please pray for Serbia where they are experiencing massive flooding.  Danny Kuranji, our International Worker in Novi Sad writes:
"We would like to ask you for prayers for our nation and many that have been hit with tragedy. Days of very heavy rain have caused rivers to flood, leaving many dead, evacuated, and many unable to receive any kind of help because of extremely huge demand for help everywhere. Danger continues. Fields are flooded, danger of total electricity collapse is real. Power of water that is tearing homes down seems to be impossible to control.  Only the One that controls the weather, rain and the whole earth can.  Please pray that God would do the impossible and shine the lite of hope in the midst of this darkness."
We are in communication with Danny to identify the specific needs and a potential response.
Donations can be given to the C&MA’s Global Emergency Response Fund.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Philippine Typhoon Haiyan Update

We have had an update from our partners in the Philippines. As of April 23rd 126 houses have been built in the following areas:
Update April 2014-2- 39 houses in Medellin, Cebu.
- 23 houses in Kananga, Leyte.
- 25 houses in Camotes Island, Cebu. 
- 10 houses in Palo, Leyte
- 9 houses in Tacloban
* 20 houses in Palanog, Tacloban City [near completion]
Two churches in the following areas have been repaired:
- Tacloban City 
- Nipa, Medellin, Cebu 
Two churches in the following areas have been rebuilt:
- Dumalag, Capiz
- Dinginan, Roxas City
Update April 2014
There is on-going constructions of 10 churches in the following areas:
- Palo, Leyte
- Kananga, Leyte 
- Apitong, Tacloban
- San Juan, Ormoc
- Panugnawan, Medellin, Cebu
- Coron, Palawan (2 churches) 
- Busuanga, Palawan (3 churches)
Pray for the on-going construction of over 1000 homes as well. Lots of work to be done yet but praise the Lord progress is being made!!
Post from March 28, 2014:
On November 8, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines, the third most disaster-prone country in the world. Haiyan claimed over 6,000 lives and destroyed an estimated 1.2 million homes. It was the strongest storm ever recorded at landfall.
C&MA individuals responded generously as they donated $594,508. We declared that amount to the Canadian Government’s matching program where they set aside one dollar for each individual donation to their Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund.  Added to this, some churches also gave funds from existing compassion/general funds in the amount of $196,000.    

The C&MA in Canada is engaged in a three-way partnership with CAMACOP (C&MA Churches of the Philippines) and CAMA Services (C&MA-US) for response to Typhoon Haiyan. Our C&MA Asian Spice Regional Developer, Mark Jones, travelled to the Philippines in November to join in the initial assessment of the most vulnerable people in each community and how funds could be used most effectively to help in the immediate needs, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases of relief.  
CAMA has provided a consultant to walk alongside CAMACOP pastors and lay workers in the response efforts.  They have been providing relief goods, trauma debriefs, reconstruction assistance, and funeral assistance to those who are hurting in the Philippines. 

Mark visited the Philippines again in March to assist in finalizing a project for the next phase of recovery.  We have most recently committed to contribute funds for the following:

·         Continued provision of food, water, clothing, etc
·         Rebuild 14 churches that were totally destroyed
·         Repair 7 churches that were partially damaged
·         Assistance to 1324 families whose homes were totally or partially destroyed
·         Assistance to rebuild 2 church schools that were damaged
·         Assistance to repair a community hall and community clinic that was damaged. 

Other Alliance World Fellowship national churches are also supporting these efforts.  It is great to be a part of a world-wide Alliance family.  Would you continue to pray for our sister church in the Philippines?  There is a long road of recovery ahead of them.  Pray that they will be a blessing to their communities as they demonstrate the love and care of Jesus!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Syrian Refugee Relief

"I lay on the street pretending I was dead for five hours because the snipers would shoot anything that moved.." 
This is just one example of the troubling stories shared by Syrian refugees as they recount their experiences of the civil war before fleeing to safety in neighbouring countries.
The living conditions of the refugees are terribly disheartening. Whether an extended family of 12 living in a one-room rented space, multiple families sharing one small apartment or young widows and their children in a tent within a refugee camp, life is difficult and seems hopeless. 
They have left jobs, homes, friends and family— with whatever they could carry— and now rely on the kindness and generosity of others. Many have experienced this care through Alliance churches in Lebanon, Jordan and within Syria.
The C&MA in Canada is supporting these relief ministries of the Alliance churches in Beirut, Damascus and Mafraq. In December, Joanne Beach travelled to the region with a team led by Arie Verduijn, President of Alliance World Fellowship. They visited these sister churches and many of the displaced Syrian families to whom they are ministering.
Syrian Family
The most striking component of the churches’ relief ministries is the personal interest that is demonstrated. It is not just about handing out mattresses, blankets, heaters or food; it is about relational connection.
Once the distribution teams have delivered desperately needed items, visitation teams do regular follow-up visits to inquire about further needs, pray with people and simply spend time visiting. In the region it has been referred to as the "Alliance Approach."  Pastor Edward Awabdeh from Damascus summarized it in these words: "We let people know how precious they are."
Greeting Syrians
The Syrian conflict has created a humanitarian crisis. The UN Refugee Agency reports that over 9 million Syrians have fled their homes due to the escalating violence.

"We let people know how precious they are." 
Joanne reports that their team was privileged to visit the 
Syrian Refugee Camp
Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. With a population of approximately 130,000, it is one of the largest in the world. After a 30-minute briefing from the Colonel who oversees the camp, they were driven through the camp which enabled them to get a sense of what life is like within.

Bridal Shop
The most profound moment for them was driving up the main market street and passing by a bridal shop kiosk. In this new normal, people marry, have children and build new relationships; life goes on for the displaced.
Within these camps, people receive simple shelter, food, water and a degree of healthcare. Children attend school. Yet for millions of refugees who are not in official camps, this is not guaranteed. It is these people that the churches focus on.
"Now one of the needs is for discipleship, as many people are beginning to follow Jesus." 
Small schoolroom for Syrian refugee children
The church in Mafraq has started a small school and is considering opening a larger one so that the hundreds of kids whom they are connecting with will have the opportunity to continue their education.
As the churches are reaching out with compassion to those in this crisis, they are finding that many are spiritually seeking as well. In their despair, they are finding hope in Jesus. Pastor Nour from Mafraq stated, “Now one of the needs is for discipleship, as many people are beginning to follow Jesus.”