Tag Archives: Refugees

Angela Kruse: Who Will Hear the Name of Jesus From Your Lips?

by Angela Kruse

“From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him” (Acts 17:26-27).

This passage of Scripture has spoken powerfully to us after returning this past June from Northern Uganda where more than one million Southern Sudanese crossed the border fleeing war and famine. The sheer number of refugees is overwhelming, yet what God is doing through this crisis must be proclaimed.

God has allowed one million Southern Sudanese into Uganda’s predominately Muslim North. Coincidence? We don’t think so. Christians are actively sharing the gospel with their Ugandan Muslim neighbours.

Our first Sunday in the town of Arua, northern Uganda, we attended a local Sudanese church that met under a mango tree. We recognized Martha from the Dinka tribe. Ten years previously, while serving in a Sudanese refugee camp in Ethiopia, we had sponsored her husband to attend a Bible school.

At a weekly Bible study that I held, Martha asked for prayer as her Ugandan neighbours were practicing witchcraft and she was deeply troubled. We prayed for protection and an opportunity for her to share the gospel. That week, the children in her neighbour’s home became ill. She brought them food, paid for their medicine, and shared the gospel. Barely managing to feed and clothe her six children, she shared Christ to her neighbours in word and deed.

While over 80 per cent of the population are women and children, dozens of active churches proclaiming Christ each Sunday in every refugee camp. Women serve the sick and the poorest among them while caring for relatives’ children and orphans in addition to their children. Pastors and evangelists have joined different denominations of churches together so they can more effectively use their limited resources. Children and youth choirs actively praise God each Sunday morning and share the gospel during the week.

The refugee camps in Northern Uganda have become hubs for training Sudanese leaders in church planting, leadership, TEE and discipleship. The refugee camps and towns are a safe for women to raise their children while their husbands continue ministry in volatile places.

How should we respond to refugees or immigrants entering our countries from places that are hard to send missionaries? God is using circumstances like war, famine, and persecution so that every nation might hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

How should we respond? Recognize God is actively at work. Be ready to help God’s people in need. Practice hospitality and share the gospel in word and deed. Refugees are coming to our towns and cities. Do they see your spiritual fervour and your faithfulness in prayer? Who will hear the name of Jesus from your lips?

Angela and Rolf Kruse (Rosenort FC) serve with SIM in Uganda.

CFGB responding to Rohingya refugee crisis

Projects will help 25,000

by Amanda Thorsteinsson, CFGB

LANCASTER, Ont.—Canadian Foodgrains Bank members are responding to the needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, where over half a million people have fled extreme violence in Myanmar in search of safety and freedom.

In addition, the Canadian government has approved $1 million to support this joint response that is being implemented through Foodgrains Bank members.

The CFGB is grateful for the response of the Canadian government and many individual Canadians, says executive director Jim Cornelius. The projects will meet the food needs of over 25,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.

The Rohingya are descendants of Muslims who came to Myanmar generations ago. They speak a different language and are of a different religion than the majority of Myanmar’s citizens, who are Buddhist. The Myanmar government considers them stateless and places restrictions on their rights as citizens.

Violence broke out in the northern Rakhine state in August when Rohingya militants attacked government forces. According to the United Nations, the Myanmar government responded against the Rohingya with disproportionate violence. Entire villages have been destroyed, and there has been widespread panic and flight.

“The Rohingya people have experienced incredible trauma in recent weeks as they flee from Myanmar,” says Ken Kim, CFGB’s board chair. “The accounts of those interviewed are harrowing….They are exhausted, hungry and in desperate need of basic support.”

“We are continuing to monitor the situation of the Rohingya refugees closely, to see if there is an additional response needed,” says Cornelius. To donate or to learn more, go to the CFGB’s website.

South Sudan: Sunday, an Orphan and a Bishop

by Gordon Skopnik

South Sudan – Sunday is not just a day. This story is about Sunday the man.  Sunday grew up in refugee camps as a Sudanese orphan.  Camp life was very difficult and as an orphan, and especially a Sudanese orphan, he had to figure out how to support himself in another country.

The culture and language were different and people often never thought of others and were consumed with trying to survive. Sunday felt like he was the scum of the earth, and that is how he thought about himself.

When he was a bit older, maybe 13, he left camp life that was too difficult only to find that city life was sometimes even worse.  A pastor in Kampala City in Uganda found him destitute and offered him a helping hand and counsel.  It was not much, but Sunday was given some food, counsel and provided some education.  Sunday believed he would never become anybody significant because he believed he was nobody significant.

The pastor taught him that he could have a position in Christ. He could be a child of God and learn and have a new identity.  Sunday could not believe that could ever happen to him. But as he grew in relationship with his new community and the pastor reinforced that Sunday had potential, he went along for the ride.

It was time for him to move back to his own country, South Sudan, and the pastor bought Sunday a ticket to fly back with Mission Aviation Fellowship.  Sunday had only seen these planes in the sky, and so, when he went up into the sky himself, he was terrified that he would fall out of the sky.

This experienced changed his life, though, and God used it to move him forward in faith.  He realized that if he could fly in the sky, he could do anything—and be anybody that God wanted him to be.  He finally grasped his identity in Christ as a child of God and brother of Christ and all its benefits, and he shared them freely with others.

It was difficult in South Sudan for Sunday but he, as a humble servant of Christ, just helped people and orphans; and the community noticed that Sunday was a spiritual leader.  Sunday is now a bishop and serves thousands of people.

There are many more details to Sunday’s story that I did not share as they were too disturbing and too graphic.  In an interview with Sunday, the last time I met him, he was living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda because his home in South Sudan is destroyed and he is not able to go back. He said, “I was born in war. I married in war. I have had children in war, and now I may die in war.”

This may sound devastatingly negative, but Sunday serves beside Avant Ministries. He serves South Sudan within the context of Short Cycle Church Planting in the refugee camps promoting health, peace, and spiritual vitality.

Gordon and Sharon Skopnik (Wymark) serve with Avant Ministries. Sunday’s story is told with his permission.

Aberdeen Seeks to Reunite Refugee Family

by Herb Heppner

WINNIPEG, Man.—Last October, with the help of MCC, Aberdeen EMC applied to sponsor an extended family from Iraq. In total, there are eight adults and two babies in the family. Our hope is to reunite a young couple we sponsored several years ago with their family. We want to invite churches and individuals in our EMC conference to help us with this sponsorship.

On June 3, 2017, Humam Shihab and his wife Sabreen celebrated two years in Canada. They are from the city of Bagdad in Iraq and were sponsored by Aberdeen. They were fortunate to find a home in Winnipeg. Both of them have learned English and are working in the public school system in Winnipeg.

But Humam could not forget about his family still in Iraq and requested that Aberdeen try to sponsor his family. His father has been housebound for years and the family feared for the father’s safety. Two of Humam’s uncles have been taken by militias and never heard of again.

Last October Aberdeen applied to sponsor Humam’s family. This includes his parents, three brothers, one sister, a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, as well as two babies.

The Shihabs have been living in Beirut, Lebanon, as refugees. There they waited anxiously for news about their sponsorship application. Finally, in early May, they were advised that they would be accepted to come to Winnipeg. Upon hearing this news, they were overjoyed that they were being given a new opportunity in a new land. They are now waiting for their visas to be processed and for a flight date.

We are presently preparing a home for them. It is big task for a small church to take on a sponsorship of this size. However, Humam and Sabreen have become a part of our community and we feel compelled to help reunite this family.

Note: Many EMC churches are currently sponsoring or co-sponsoring refugee families. This is in line with the compassion of Jesus as shown in Matthew 25. Aberdeen is a small congregation with a big heart. If your congregation is not involved in such a sponsorship, or if you are interested in helping personally, Aberdeen welcomes your help in this project. Donations may be sent to Aberdeen EMC, 265 Flora Ave., Winnipeg, MB R2W 2R2; aberdeenchurch2@gmail.com. – Tim Dyck, EMC General Secretary

Resetting Our Priorities

by Brigitte Toews

LANDMARK, Man.—Heartland Community Church has sprung forward into a new season of ministry and service opportunities as we listen and follow God’s leading. Looking ahead, we have recognized the need to add a new part-time pastor of care to our pastoral leadership team.

Duane Froese has been our Prayer and Care service team leader for the past three years and he was affirmed in this new role on March 19. Duane will help mobilize the team at Heartland to encourage, serve, and help all of us connect to God and others in our church and wider community.

On Easter Sunday we hosted a travelling band of Christian musicians from Bellville, Ont., called FM Reset, who led our Easter worship. They have been touring Eastern and Central Canada, playing in schools and churches along the way, encouraging youth to live different. The band got their start as the young worship team out of Pastor Andy Woodworth’s previous church, and they said that Andy’s encouragement to keep practicing helped them stay focused and develop as a group.

On April 30 our church was formally introduced to the Dawood family for the first time since arriving in Winnipeg in December 2016. Al Reimer spoke on behalf of the Syrian Refugee sponsorship group, which is made up of Heartland donors, and a committed group of fellow Christians in downtown Winnipeg who live in the same area as the refugees.

Al said, “The Dawood family—father Mohamad, mother Aisha, daughter Mawlooda, son Mostafa—continue to make progress in settling in a new country, learning English, going to school, pursuing training for possible employment, and create a network of friends. They have maintained a positive attitude as they confront the seemingly overwhelmingly task of creating a new life.”

Mr. Dawood, with the assistance of Sultan Kittened, a translator who volunteered his service for this purpose, shared some of their family’s life experiences in war-torn Syria. He was a farmer by trade and when uprooted from his homeland, not all the Dawood adult children were able to come to Canada, they got separated during the crisis. After the service, we shared a meal with the family and an offering was taken for gardening tools so they can get started on their own urban garden project.

We look forward to more mission opportunities coming our way as we bear good fruit and remain rooted in Christ.

 

Blumenort: Syrian Family, New Youth Pastoral Couple

by  Janice Harder

BLUMENORT, Man.—Wonderful things have been happening in our church this fall. To begin with, this refugee report from Irma Plett who is working closely with the refugee family: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

In late September a young Syrian couple with three small children arrived in our community. With the help of MCC and the Canadian government, we are seeking to provide refuge and support for them as they try to put a traumatic past behind them and build a safe future for their children.

This first year holds numerous great challenges for them, so we are trying to ease their load by helping them learn English, get a Manitoba driver’s license, buy a vehicle, find medical and dental care, set up banking, find furniture and warm winter clothing at prices they can afford, connect to other Arabic-speaking people in the area, and build a community of friends who will continue to care for them once our year of official support is over. We do it all in the name of Christ, hoping and praying that they will come to know Him and His Love, and one day join that multitude praising Him before His throne.

After much prayer, on Nov. 1, 2016, the church welcomed Mitchell and Becca Martens as our new youth pastoral couple. Mitchell says, “The church has been very welcoming,” and that they are looking forward to making this their new home. Prayer support is welcomed for this young couple as they move to our church body and settle into their new position.

On Nov. 17 we had a Refresh Worship night. What a wonderful time of worshipping and praising our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

On Dec. 4 we also had five baptismal candidates come forward to dedicate their lives to God and this church. Dawsyn Froese, Karenna Ginter, Mackenzie Klassen, Jeremy Reimer, and Jodi Thiessen gave their testimonies and were baptized. Please carry these young people your prayers and encouragement as they live out their faith in Jesus.