Why we serve meals to refugees
We regularly help serve food to refugees in the New Hope apartment building, who meet together in a big community meal. We’ve had up to 48 kids at one time in the apartment building, so it’s full of life. We started the refugee house because we saw the government brought in refugees and put them into single-room-occupancy housing downtown. They were very vulnerable and taken advantage of by other people because they didn’t have the resources to stand on their own. We thought if we could provide a positive community surrounded with good people, especially a church community, they could get on their feet and get launched. Since 2004 New Hope has welcomed more than 600 refugees from 60 countries.
It changed us
In the first while we had everybody coming to our church. It helped us become a multicultural community. It changed the way we prayed, the way we raised resources, even how we did baby showers. It changed our seniors’ meetings because the refugees adopted our senior ladies as their Canadian mothers, who in turn adopted refugee women as their daughters. It changed the whole dynamic of how church functioned.
We faced challenges
In the early days there were just so many people. Despite the compassion of our staff and others, we had to limit, according to law, how many people we could look after. Even more so than privately or government sponsored refugees, asylum seekers were a challenge because they had no support network. It’s still a challenge for New Hope to find enough volunteers, supporters and donors to keep things going.
Make sure you understand what you’re getting into. Sometimes churches are notorious for thinking that if refugees come to church once a week, and we say hi to them and smile, that’s fine. These people have left community behind and they’re looking for new community. Understand the relational piece that’s involved. Don’t think you can just give money, or clothes, or set up an apartment and leave them on their own. Somebody needs to orient them to the community. Somebody needs to be their go-to person. If you get six to eight people who will commit themselves to supporting them, then it’s not too much for any one person.
Thanks to Pastor Jack Taylor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church for speaking to us about New Hope.