How to take part in the Middle East Refugee Resettlement Initiative

A young Syrian girl from Kobani arriving at the Ibrahim Kahlil Border Crossing in Iraq after travelling by bus from Turkey. UNHCR / D. Nahr

A young Syrian girl from Kobani arriving at the Ibrahim Kahlil Border Crossing in Iraq after travelling by bus from Turkey. UNHCR / D. Nahr

World Refugee Day is coming up on June 20. This week I will post the new Middle East Refugee Resettlement Initiative of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). Over the next couple of weeks we will look at some of the efforts being made by local and national church groups.

Leaders of several denominations affiliated with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada are engaged in a joint effort to respond to the refugee crisis currently taking place in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq. In cooperation with the Canadian government, they are seeking to offer settlement assistance to some of the 10,000 displaced persons that Canada has promised to welcome by 2016.

These frequently asked questions may be helpful to church leaders considering participation in the Initiative:

1. Why would our congregation become involved in the Middle East Refugees Resettlement Initiative?

As we seek to bless in the name of Jesus those who are suffering in the world, we put Jesus’ call to follow him into action. The EFC’s issue summary on refugees begins with a basic biblical principle: “As Christians, we are called to care for our neighbour, and to protect the vulnerable, the needy and the oppressed . . . Throughout Scripture, God specifically commands us to treat the alien with justice and compassion. Leviticus 24:22 instructs: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong . . . you shall love him as yourself.”

You may also find it useful to view a resource, which expands on these themes, developed earlier by the EFC’s Social Action Commission: Love the Sojourner: An Exploration of the World Refugee Situation and How the EFC Might Respond.

Father and son walk through the ruins of their home town, Homs, Syria. UNHCR / B. Diab

Father and son walk through the ruins of their home town, Homs, Syria. UNHCR / B. Diab

2. My congregation would like to get involved in resettling refugees from Syria and Iraq. What do I do now?

a. Check this list to see if your denomination or associated organization is a participant in this initiative. Your denominational/organizational contact will introduce you to the next step.

b. If your denomination is not part of this initiative, check the same list to see a list of organizations that will be able to assist you. 

3. How can I help my congregation prepare to welcome refugees?

Several Christian groups have collaborated on a congregational resource called Finding Our Way: Immigrants, Refugees and Canadian Churches. It’s available as a free 31-page PDF in two versions: regular (6.1MB) and compressed (2.8MB).

If you are sponsoring Muslim people, you may find it helpful to connect with the Fellowship of Faith for the Muslims. To find out if there is a network of people in your area working with Muslims, email the Canadian Network of Ministries to Muslims at info@cnmm.ca.

Mennonite Central Committee has produced several resources, including:

The Christian Reformed Church (Canadian Ministries and World Renew) also has helpful resources listed on its Refugee Issues webpage, including:

Syrian refugees cross over into the outskirts of Kobani, Turkey after fleeing their home. UNHCR / I. Prickett

Syrian refugees cross over into the outskirts of Kobani, Turkey after fleeing their home. UNHCR / I. Prickett

The EFC’s online resource library includes several items related to the topic of refugees, including a Refugee Highway Wall Map produced by the Refugee Highway Partnership and a Code of Best Practices for Christian Refugee Ministry developed by the World Evangelical Alliance.

You may also find helpful these resources produced by government and other agencies:

4. Are there other congregations in our area with whom we could collaborate in resettling refugees in our community?

Your denominational or group contact may know of other sponsors in your area; you may also contact the EFC to indicate your interest in connecting with other local sponsors.

This content is re-posted by permission.

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