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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Syrian Refugee Crisis:
The C&MA in Canada's Response

As with most past humanitarian crises, it takes an image to invoke a response by the rest of the world! 

In September we were exposed to the shocking photo of lifeless Aylan Shenu wash up on the shores of Turkey; a young Syrian boy whose family fled their home as refugees because of civil war. Since the unrest began in Syria in the Spring of 2011, there have been over 11 million Syrians displaced and over 4 million refugees in the surrounding countries.
Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
The C&MA in Canada has been working on this crisis for three years by supporting relief efforts in several Middle East countries and by encouraging our churches to engage in refugee sponsorship.  We are encouraged that even before the photo of little Aylan and the massive movement of Syrian refugees to Europe, fifteen of our churches were already in the process of sponsoring refugees. Another 35 of our churches are in dialogue with us about the process; many are at the point of forming teams who will lead a sponsorship resettlement. (Update: As of March 23 the number of churches has increased to 171!)

My church wants to respond.  What can we do?

The C&MA's response. What have we been doing?

  • We have been a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with Citizenship and Immigration Canada since February 2012, encouraging Alliance churches to engage in refugee sponsorship. 
  • We have supported Syrian refugee relief in Lebanon, Jordan, and with the Alliance church in Damascus over the last 2 ½ years.  
  • Joanne Beach traveled to Lebanon and Jordan in December 2013 to visit refugees both in and outside the camps that local Alliance churches have been ministering to.  Read Blog Post
  • As a SAH, we are part of the Canadian SAH Association and have been working through this network to advocate on behalf of refugees. 
  •  We partnered with Lorna Dueck’s Context show last fall on the "Terror in Iraq and Syria" episode. The C&MA was the contact organization for viewers to call who were interested in refugee sponsorship. View the episode.
  •  Dave Hearn traveled to Iraq in October 2014 and subsequently made a video to encourage churches to respond with radical hospitality to the displaced impacted by the crises in the Middle East.  View the Video.  (His challenge comes at the 2:50 point in the video.)
  • In May 2015, Dave Hearn participated with other denominational presidents, who are part of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), in a meeting with Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa to encourage the Government of Canada to accept more Syrian refugees.  They also committed to assist their local churches with sponsorship. 
  • As a result of the EFC initiative, we will be serving as the umbrella SAH for three other denominations in order that their local churches can engage in sponsorship immediately while they go through the application process of becoming a SAH.  (Associated Gospel Church of Canada, Evangelical Missionary Church Of Canada, and Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada.)
  • We have added the Refugee Sponsorship section on the new C&MA website.  
  • We have established a Refugee Fund so people can donate to a sponsorship resettlement.  This fund is a safety reserve for sponsoring groups to apply for unexpected financial emergencies outside of the resettlement budget.
  • We have promoted refugee sponsorship through a variety of the Alliance Justice and Compassion social media sites.  
·      So, as you can see, we have been addressing this issue for some time, but we are grateful that the events of this past September have created a sense of urgency which has inspired many inquiries about refugee sponsorship and how churches can respond.  

 Click here to open refugee sponsorship page to learn more

  Okay, My Church Wants to Respond.  

What can I do?

  1. Pray for the millions of refugees, for relief efforts of churches and aid agencies in the Middle East and Europe, and for churches in Canada assisting refugees in resettlement.
  2. Provide funds to the C&MA Syria Emergency Relief Fund Donations to this fund will be used to provide relief for refugees in the Middle East and Europe.
  3. Provide funds to the C&MA Refugee Fund. Donations to this fund will be used to assist churches in Canada that are sponsoring refugees.
  4. Learn how your church can Participate in refugee sponsorship.
  5. Partner with a church in your area that is sponsoring a refugee family. 

1 comment:

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