I was just finishing up my day at the office on December 23, 1997, when I got the call. It was a call from a refugee settlement agency asking me if I could prepare and deliver a welcome basket for a new family who had just arrived from the Middle East. Thinking of all the Christmas activities that were still to come, and without thinking of consulting my wife, I reluctantly agreed to help. By the way, I do not recommend making decisions like this without first sharing and having agreement with a spouse. Fortunately, my wife was happy to welcome this new family so the Christmas Eve Christmas Basket drop-off turned visit launched the beginning of a beautiful metamorphosis of strangers becoming friends while overcoming mutual fears and insecurities.
Fast forward to Christmas 2018 as Tenth’s refugees support team received a call about a family originally from the Middle East who just arrived in Vancouver as refugee claimants; a father and 4 children under the age of 5. Again, the timing was inconvenient, but this time, having a team and partnerships made a world of a difference. Through a series of significant miracles, Mim Wickett, Tenth’s Refugee Response Team Leader was able to welcome this haggard family together with our friends and partners at Killarney Park Mennonite Brethren Church in time to be settled for Christmas. Many compassionate Tenth folks responded to calls they received to help with this family's needs including strollers, baby backpacks, car seats, clothes, toys, food, etc. One dear family decided to encourage their friends to bring gifts for refugees to a Christmas party they hosted a couple days ago.
Another part of this story that touches my heart, is how friends like Ahmad and Dara (a Kurdish family who arrived last year just before Christmas as Dara was close to giving birth to her third child), picked up the call and Ahmad was able to take the new family’s young boy to the hospital to bandage a wound while Mim cared for the other children. Another newcomer family visited a couple times, bringing pizza, warmth and good conversation. What a beautiful thing it is when many people respond to a timely opportunity.
Just a heads up…you or your life group may be getting a call in the near future. It may be a literal call or email from Mim and our refugee team or it may be a call in response to scripture that invites us to welcome the stranger, perhaps even at a time that is ‘inconvenient’.
NOTE: Names of refugees have been changed to protect their identities in the claimant process.
Tenth Church is entering its third year in our pilot project with Journey Home Community (JHC) where JHC has been coaching, supporting and training Tenth in becoming a church-based refugee welcoming agency. Our latest partner in this journey is KPMB Church, whose generous and caring people have been instrumental in welcoming our new family, who is staying at a KPMB property.
Patrick, Mim and the Refugee Leadership Team
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