North Park Community Church in London, Ont., welcomes refugees and settles newcomers to life in Canada as a regular part of its ministry.
Why we do refugee sponsorship and settlement
This is driven from compassion for the persecuted church. At the heart of it is compassion for our brothers and sisters and living on mission.
We like to provide opportunity for people to minister. I’ve had some people tell me they feel so blessed to be able to give in this way. This is a way for people to use their God-given skills to make a difference for a family. Not all of us can go across the ocean to minister to someone. This gives us an opportunity to minister to the hurting across the world.
We’re basically giving people a new life, when it comes right down to it. When you see people walking through those big doors at the airport, and you realize you’ve enabled them to come to this country, which I still believe is one of the best in the world, you can’t help but experience true joy.
Not all of us can go across the ocean to minister to someone. This gives us an opportunity to minister to the hurting across the world. –TOM TIMMERMAN, refugee ministry leader
Moving from refugees to newcomers
As soon as they arrive, they are no longer refugees and we never call them that. They are newcomers to Canada. Refugee means they have been forced out of their country of origin into another. We’ve welcomed them from that country into ours, a land of freedom where they have rights and freedoms, like any permanent resident of Canada.
We have been a sponsorship agreement holder with the government, since 2013. We worked with one family a year and then when the Syrian refugee crisis hit we raised our numbers. In the last five years we’ve settled about 80 people.
Our secret? Host family circles
We establish a host family circle for every newcomer or newcomer family, and that is what we’ve found to be very successful. It is a group of families that form a circle of support around the family, to do life with them. They teach them everything about everything – from how to use the bus, visit the grocery stores, fill out forms, get registered for English classes – but they really commit to doing it in a friendship model for a year.
I wouldn’t try to do this without host family circles.
Thanks to Tom Timmerman, refugee ministry leader of North Park (www.NorthPark.ca), for speaking to us for Church in Community.