Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Project

Syrian_Project

Help them settle in to a place called Home.

As a church, we are committed to help and support Syrian refugees to settle down to their new home here in our neighborhood.

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
 Leviticus 19:34 NIV

“You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 22:21 NLT

Here is where you will find updates and current activities of our Syrian Refugee Sponsorship project. Please keep us in your prayer.

 

__________________________________________Updates________________________________________

July 5th, 2017

The family’s oldest child has a very important surgery for his legs coming up on July 11th. The recovery time will be 3 months. Please pray for the family and consider making meals and visiting the family. The younger son will be attending SCBC’s Summer Fun. The father continues to work night shifts at the Mosque. Please contact Dana (ly.dana@gmail.com) if you have job leads for full or part-time opportunities.

 

April 27th, 2017

We passed the half year mark of our financial support for our Syrian family. God has forged a strong bond between brothers and sisters of SCBC and the family. Pray for wisdom as we collaborate with the family to promote and empower as much independence as possible. We are recruiting for more people who may be interested in serving alongside us on the committee to further God’s work in this ministry. Please contact Alex at alexkhlau@gmail.com for more info.

 

February 22nd, 2017

The start of the father’s part-time job has been postponed to the end of February or early March. Please pray for wisdom as he studies for the G1 driver’s test. The family received the children’s report cards and they are progressing well in their academics. The children come home from school and go on various electronics until bedtime. Please pray for wisdom for the parents and friends to play and read with the children. The mother enjoys learning English. The baby is growing very well.

 

February 9th, 2017

The mother has been happy and quick to learn English at home despite being tired from caring for the baby. The middle child has been excelling in English. The oldest child is getting home modifications that will help him gain independence. Pray that we can find a handy brother or sister to help with the installation. Pray for the father as he is studying for G1. The family welcomes visitors to enjoy tea or meal over simple English conversations.

 

December 28th, 2016

Their baby boy was born weighing over 9lbs. The family is relieved that the baby is healthy. Volunteers slept over to take care of the two older brothers and drove the parents to the hospital. Thank God for providing volunteers and a good healthcare system that has brought many blessings to the delivery process. As the family adjusts to yet another change during their transition in Canada, please pray for God to continue to pour love over this family through SCBC.

 

December 28th, 2016

The parents of our sponsorship family were overwhelmed by SCBC’s support when they received the money raised through the luncheon. They thank the church for embracing their family. A month ago, they were deeply saddened when they were not eligible for a government subsidy given to expecting refugee families. However, God entrusted His greater plan for this family to SCBC.  In the name of Jesus, SCBC gave this family love, hope, and a donation that was much more generous.

 

December 15th, 2016

Thank you to all who came to hear A.Y family story at the Welcome Luncheon and for all who contributed in various ways to the party. We are seeking volunteers to drive or TTC with the family to their medical appointments and for tutoring. They have books and materials you can use to practice English with them. The third baby will be arriving soon. Please pray for a smooth delivery. Their oldest son will be starting school soon. Please pray for his transition.

 

December 1st, 2016

With English classes on break until January, the family has increasing needs for tutoring. The father is also studying for his G1 exam. The mother continues weekly appointments in preparation for the baby. Their oldest son has been offered a placement at a school. Please pray for his transition and providence of equipment. The second son has shown great improvement in picking up the English language. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets for the welcome party on Dec. 11 at 1PM in the gym. 

 

November 15th, 2016

We are hosting an official welcome party and baby shower for our sponsored A.Y Family on December 11th, 2016 at 1:00PM in the gym. Tickets are sold every Sunday outside the sanctuary after English service and Cantonese Service until December 4th.  All proceeds will go to the family. Those who are interested are encouraged to donate winter clothing, diapers, and gift cards to help them welcome their new baby and their first Canadian winter.

 

November 4th, 2016

It’s been another very busy week. The father has enrolled in an ESL class and the kids have started school. Language is now the next obstacle, especially as the family becomes more independent and start to navigate daily life on their own. Do you know anyone who speaks Arabic or Turkish (or have friends who do)? We are looking for interpreters to periodically translate for the family in person, especially for appointments during the day. Please contact Alex at alexkhlau@gmail.com if you can help.

 

October 4th, 2016

Our Syrian family has started their new life in Canada! Both parents are getting oriented with a whirlwind of activities like doctor’s visits and searching for schools for their sons. There is a SCBC schedule to keep the family connected and accompanied as they navigate the complexities of setting up their family or to share a meal with them. There are lots of open spaces in the weeks ahead, please sign up to spend time with our family! Please contact Alex at alexkhlau@gmail.com if you are interested in helping.

 

September 19th, 2016

Let’s warmly welcome our sponsored family to Canada! They arrived on Sept 21 2016 after months of prayer, preparation, paperwork and patience. They are currently staying at a hotel in Scarborough, while they are looking for an apartment. In the coming months, they will need an inviting community that will actively help them transition into their new life. Will you sign up to walk alongside this family at their time of acute need? We need people to volunteer their time to help the Al Youssef family. Sign up to be the hands and feet that delivers tangible Christ-like love.

 

September 1st, 2016

It’s hard to put into words the feeling of losing your home. It can be due to a fire, finances or war but the results are the same: a persistent feeling of loss and an uncertain future, while every morning brings new challenges and unmet needs. Can you imagine living like this for weeks? Months? How about unending years? Let’s come together as a church to bring an end to the uncertainty for our Syrian family. We can offer a place of stability, peace and rest for our Syrian refugee family; this family needs a home. Let’s come together and find them a place to live.

 

August 25th, 2016

It’s hard to put into words the feeling of losing your home. It can be from a fire, finance or war but the results are the same. There is a persistent feeling of permanent loss and the threatening unknown of the future. Every morning brings a new batch of demands and unmet needs. Can you imagine living like this for weeks? Months? How about unending years? Let’s come together as a church to stop this cycle and provide the first cornerstone of stability, peace and rest for our Syrian refugee family. Our family needs a home, let’s find one for them.

August 11th, 2016

Even after leaving their war torn country, our sponsored refugee family still face many challenges ahead. Normally, the International Organization for Migration gives refugees detailed orientation sessions abroad before they board flights to Canada. But this is not happening for many Syrian refugees and they’ll have to learn as they go. As sponsors, we will be responsible for much of the teaching. The language barrier will be one of the first hurdles we have to creatively overcome as many only speak Arabic. We are also responsible for finding suitable accommodation for the refugee family we bring in and covering that cost for at least six months. As with most new immigrants, employment is likely going to be at the top of their minds. And like other newcomers, they’ll be up against barriers including getting credentials recognized by regulatory bodies in Canada. In face of high unemployment in Ontario, there are concerns that finding a job will be difficult. Another task our sponsored family will have to tackle is finding a family doctor. This is all the more important as they have a child with special needs. Therefore, our continued support is of utmost importance for their successful integration into Canadian society. Pray that more brothers and sisters will step up and join our team. Contact Alex at alexkhlau@gmail.com if you are interested in helping.

July 28th, 2016

Our prayer of being matched to a refugee family has been answered!!  God has brought SCBC a family to care for, to pray for and to love. The required paperwork has been submitted for review, and our next step is to find suitable accommodations.  Do you know of an empty space that could provide warmth and shelter for a family of four?  This will be our family’s first home as they transition to a new life in Canada. Their first taste of safety, security and peace since their reality has been torn apart by war. Where they make new memories, build a life and heal from the nightmares that they carry with them. It is only the beginning of a long journey riddled with challenges and difficulties but also with many opportunities for charity and empathy. Help us in the search for their first home!! Contact us at alexkhlau@gmail.com.

July 14, 2016

We may have started to become disappointed over the lack of progress but God lifts us up. CBOQ has notified us that they have found a match. They are a young couple in their mid thirties with two young sons. The older child is ten years old and has special needs. We do not know when we can expect the family to arrive. Our commitment to support them will begin after the required paperwork has been completed. Pray that we remain steadfastly committed to this good work we have started and trust God to lead and provide every step of the way.

June 30, 2016

Canada for Refugees, a coalition of community sponsorship groups, reports that about 2,900 refugees or 500 families have been fully approved and are ready for their new lives to start. However these families are stuck waiting three months or longer because they simply can’t get exit visas or plane tickets out of the war-torn region. A public outcry has begun for the Canadian government to arrange charter flights and military planes to clear the backlog, similar to what was done last winter at the height of Ottawa’s resettlement efforts. Charter flights would cost the government around $3 million but would free up an estimated $24 million in charitable donations waiting to help resettle these families. It is imperative that these approved families be moved out of a very dangerous and precarious situation in the Middle East and connected to the many groups waiting to welcome them in Canada. Pray that the Canadian government will listen and act immediately.

 

June 15, 2016

While the government claims its Syrian refugee resettlement program is $136 million under budget in the first year, we lament the lack of progress. CBOQ, project co-ordinator for Baptist churches participating in the Blended VISA Office Referred Program, reports that only 9 churches have welcomed families totalling 46 people. Five churches are awaiting the arrival of their families totalling 27 and 2 churches are pending submission for 10 people. So far CBOQ has not been able to match up a refugee family for our church. Pray that the lack of progress does not diminish our passion for supporting Syrian refugees.

 

June 5, 2016

It’s been almost six months since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister John McCallum started the Syrian refugee program. During this time, there have been congratulatory applause but also some disheartening stories. Protocols meant to give structure to the process have unfortunately become bureaucratic barriers. Lovingly prepared homes for anticipated families are being given up since they have sat empty for months. Some refugees who are here have been neglected by their resettlement agency. All the while, hundreds of refugees have drowned as they attempt to transverse the Mediterranean Sea. Many volunteer groups observe the need and step in to help integrate these families into Canada. They often fill the gaps that the government cannot and they are the loving hands and voices that give comfort in times of desperate need. Pray for these volunteer groups that play an important and invaluable role in helping refugees. May they not be disheartened and be continually encouraged by the Holy Spirit as they serve those in need.

 

May 19, 2016

Seeing the plight of Syrian refugees, small rural communities stepped up to the plate. The federal government announced recently that on top of the 36 large urban centers already set up to handle resettlement of Syrian refugees, more than 65 Canadian small towns are now prepared to welcome displaced Syrians. Urban centers have the advantage of access to more support services and ESL classes. There are other challenges to newcomers settling in a small town such as the absence of mass transit, lack of specialized health care, and Arabic speakers. However, lower cost of housing together with a willing and able group of volunteers may bridge the gap in social services. Examples of refugee families sponsored by faith groups in rural communities of fewer than 4,000 demonstrate the viability of settling Syrians in depopulating rural areas in Canada. To help them integrate, the newcomers are invited to join activity or sports groups in town. Some church members obtained ESL certificates in order to teach the families they are sponsoring. Volunteers also help with shuttling their sponsored family to bigger urban centers for needed services. The refugee families are not isolated in these communities as they have community members who visit daily. What matters most is not where the newcomers are being settled but how they are being treated and how they are helped. Let’s pray that these communities will be able to overcome any obstacles they may face in helping refugee families resettle, and that refugee families will be welcomed by these communities and be shown great hospitality.

 

May 5, 2016

Reset the bar on compassion The obstacles and challenges we are facing in the Syrian refugee sponsorship is shared among many compassionate Canadians across the nation. Even fully approved families matched to private sponsorship groups are waiting overseas for some unknown sign of action. In Toronto, a fully furnished house sits empty since February, waiting for an approved family currently stranded in a hotel in Amman. Another awaiting refugee states that ““We feel as though we reached the door of salvation, but we cannot enter”. There is mounting frustration and stress on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and neither side can get any answers for the delay. The Bible states that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” 2 Peter 3: 9. We are called to live under God’s vision and to know that He will fulfill what He has promised. What shall we do as we anticipate God’s delivery? Pray and demonstrate compassion to the many refugees that are already here among us. A charity group in Toronto’s Roncesvalles is collecting badly needed items like bicycles and sewing machines as they wait for their application to be approved and matched. Others spend time finding ways to overcome language barriers and welcoming struggling families to their community. Reach out and become a friend to the destitute and exiled in our community.

 

April 20, 2016

The recent turn of events in many European countries signifies that there has been a shift away from the humanitarian values upon which they built their country. Since early April, Greece started sending newly arrived Syrian refugees back into Turkey. Ordinary Danes are moved to extend a helping hand to refugees who are hungry, thirsty, tired and have nothing but the clothes on their back. However, these good Samaritans are charged and convicted of human smuggling by their own government. Pray that our own Christian beliefs will not be compromised under the pressure of an unprecedented influx of refugees.

 

April 14, 2016

Canada is accepting more refugees this year than almost any other time in recent history. However, the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program continues to face challenges – Sponsors are ready but there aren’t enough matches made available while approved families are awaiting travel arrangements. Also, settlement agencies are stretched to the max. Despite these setbacks, we continue to forge ahead. Pray for suitable BVOR matches and clarity amidst these challenges. Here are some ways to get involved: Contact your MP to advocate for the families stalled overseas and that more BVOR families will be made available. Volunteer at settlement agencies or with the local ESL.

 

April 6, 2016

Of the 26,200 Syrian refugees that have settled in Canada, 9,000 are privately sponsored by community and faith groups, a unique initiative only found in Canada. At the United Nations conference held on March 30 in Geneva, attended by representatives of 80 countries, 10 international organizations and 24 non-government agencies, Canada’s private sponsorship program garnered increasing international interest. This conference aims at rallying international support to resettle more Syrian refugees so as to relieve the tremendous burden on the few countries bordering on Syria. However, on the same day, many private sponsors in Toronto gathered at the Church of Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields in protest of the federal government’s recent decision to slow down the processing of Syrian refugees. One sponsor group alleged that they have been paying for an empty apartment for two months waiting for a refugee family to arrive. It is reported that Ottawa has been closing down its overseas centres used to expedite processing Syrian refugee to meet its resettlement target. Those at the church meeting suspect that visa offices in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are back to being understaffed. They demand that applications be processed and refugee families to arrive Canada within three months. It also appears that the government has put a stop to the Blended Visa Office Referred Program we are participating in. Pray that our federal government will complete the good work it has started and more refugee families will be made available for consideration by our search team. Also pray that more international leaders see welcoming refugees not as a political burden but something to be proud of.

 

March 29, 2016

Praise be to God for the continual response of the Canadian government to the Syrian refugee crisis! As of this week, 26,202 refugees have been resettled and Canada is preparing to welcome even more. The federal government intends to bring in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Thank God for this wonderful answer to our prayers!!

As Canada prepares to process, transport and resettle the new refugee target, the situation is not as encouraging in the Middle East. Marginalized and living in poverty, millions of displaced Syrians are waiting in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. There are 630,000 refugees registered to the Jordan United Nations refugee agency alone. Most are spending their life savings struggling to feed their families, stuck in foreign camps and waiting for the unknown. Many can’t access critical medical treatment because of lengthy bureaucratic procedures and user fees. Some, injured by the conflict, have died while waiting at the borders. Pray for the hearts of countries, governments, and citizens around the world. May they be softened with compassion and be moved to protect, shelter and love regardless of nationality, background or religion. The situation and numbers are discouraging and overwhelming. However, our God is greater, stronger, and awesome in power. If our God is for us, who can ever stop us? What can possibly stand against?

A Choice We Have to Make There has been a lot of debate around the federal government ruling on assisted suicide recently, and now the debate has hit close to home. Doctors and hospitals, regardless of faith and religions, are obligated by law to comply in one way or the other, request from patients for assisted suicide. As a church, we should take part in thoughtful prayer as we decide how we should respond to this ruling. For petitions and protests against this ruling, look under the following resources: http://tinyurl.com/jjyplpv

Contact the Social Concern committee at alexkhlau@gmail.com for questions.

 

March 21, 2016

A lost generation. It has been five years since violent conflict started in Syria in March 2011. It is a war on an entire generation. Even if the truce that is being negotiated can hold its ground, it will take more that a decade to rebuild from the devastation brought on by civil war. Today the number of child refugees has increased to 2.4 million. They are not only denied simple pleasures like a hearty meal or playing in the park but also have no opportunity to receive an education to prepare for adulthood. Growing up in refugee camps, they have no identity. They are also prime targets that armed groups recruit or kidnap for military training to be used as killers or be killed in the battlefront. Pray for the plight of Syrian children. Pray that more will soon be able to settle in Canada to start a new life, protected, nurtured and loved.

 

March 17, 2016

During this time of waiting, we need to prayerfully prepare our heart, mind and spirit. Even as we physically prepare to welcome a family, we should expect to be transformed by this experience as well. What about our perceptions is God looking to change with the family He sends? There will always be challenges in doing God’s work. Nevertheless, may we walk in the light of God’s vision for us, and not our own. Pray that God plants within each of us on this journey to bear much fruit. Are you in expectant anticipation of what God is about to do?

 

March 10, 2016

Hope spreads. As we wait for the federal government to announce how many more refugees will be accepted during the remainder of 2016, we are reminded of the importance of community. For a refugee family, the experience of landing in Canada can be isolating, confusing and scary. Lacking the warmth of a community, the journey of navigating a foreign land can quickly become bureaucratic and frustrating. This impacts the family’s future stability also. The federal government reports that only about 14% of government-assisted refugees (many of whom lack community support) find work during the first year of landing. In comparison, more than 50% of privately sponsored refugees (with community support) find employment during their first year. In a community, there is an integrated network, ongoing support and invested mentors to bridge the gaps of successfully settling in Canada. Small acts of friendship like having a warm welcome at the airport, hosting a lunch with familiar dishes, or bringing around measuring cups to bake a cake builds essential support systems. These small acts makes a difference, to transform all this sadness and trauma into something a little better. Something a little warmer. In time, these families will heal and start looking forward to a fruitful future in Canada. Consider being part of this vital community to support our refugee family!

 

March 6, 2016

Praise be to God that the Syrian government has accepted the terms of a ceasefire deal to start on Saturday, February 26. This truce has the potential to end the long-standing violence and bloodshed in the region. However, there is still a long way to go before there is peace in Syria. Pray that the Syrian leadership and the many interests in the region support this effort towards peace. Even as political talks develop across the Atlantic ocean, there is plenty happening here in Canada. The federal government is hitting the target of 25,000 refugees this week and Immigration Minister John McCallum will be revealing how many more refugees he intends to bring in. In the past, Canada has talked about bringing a total of 35,000 to 50,000 refugees but that number will be discussed in the coming weeks. Pray that the Canadian government continues to be generous and compassionate to the plight of Syrian refugees. As SCBC continues to wait for a suitable family, news about the successes and struggles of Canadian Syrian refugees are beginning to surface. A relevant example would be the recent article in the Toronto Star about the Bakours family. This refugee family survived a harrowing escape from Damascus, was sponsored through the BVOR program and encountered the many challenges and confusions of settling in a strange foreign land. Their story is a reflection of what SCBC can expect from our own BVOR program family.

Please take a look: http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/02/14/syrian-refugees-get-taste-of-canada-and-of-long-road-ahead.html

Many Syrian refugees have seen their lives put on hold as there is no place for them to put down any roots. The first thing they need once they arrive in their newly adopted country is a place to settle down. As their sponsor, we are responsible to secure housing for them for the year when they are under our care. But we don’t want to put people in a home that they won’t be able to afford a year later. Unfortunately, in Toronto’s tight housing market where less than 3,000 affordable units have been built in the last five years, one can be on a waiting list for over 10 years before moving into a subsidized unit. Moreover, many refugee families are large and need three or four bedroom units which are very difficult to come by not to mention the over $2,000 monthly rent. Pray that our efforts put in search of suitable accommodation for the refugee family will bear fruit.

Besides finding affordable housing, there are many other issues facing newcomers to Canada. Here is a great opportunity to gain deeper understanding of these issues. Mahmoud Allouch, Syria Project Coordinator for the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, will be giving a presentation on Tuesday, March 8 from 7 to 8 p.m. on Syrian culture, history and refugee settlement challenges. This free event takes place at the Church of the Holy Trinity Guildwood at 85 Livingston Road in Scarborough. For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/syrian-culture-refugee-settlement-challenges-tickets-21972526418

 

Feb 17, 2016

Give not only peace Refugees make a hard decision to flee their home country seeking peace. Some made the choice to settle in Canada only after being stranded for years in a refugee camp and seeing the dream of going back home drifts further and further away. Not knowing the language while trying to settle in an unknown land far away from home can be scary and confusing at best. No wonder many newcomers feel despair and hopelessness. Sponsoring a refugee family means more than putting food on their table and clothes on their backs. We want to make sure that the refugee family we will be sponsoring not only finds peace here but also a community of love and hope in Christ. To prepare ourselves for this task we are connecting with other organizations experienced in Syrian refugee sponsorship and attending discussion forums to better understand their culture. We are glad to learn that the big powers agreed recently to start to bring an end to hostilities in Syria, yet it is still not clear if progress will be made when negotiations reconvene. As this project evolves, pray that we stay focused on Christ who is the saviour of all peoples.

 

Feb 10, 2016

Thank you for the outpouring of interest and support for the Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Project. We are in the process of selecting a refugee family and our contact at CBOQ has not received any new profiles since January 21. Please pray that any sponsorship obstacles will be removed and that we will connect with a suitable Syrian family soon. In the meantime, we looking for drivers with larger vehicles in anticipation of accommodating a large refugee family. Stay tuned, we will keep you posted.

 

Feb 3, 2016

Yes, the ball has started rolling!! We thank brothers and sisters for their enthusiastic response to our call for volunteers in support of this project. Over 50 people signed up to help in one way or another. A 12-member core group has been set up to spear head this project. We are taking part in the Blended VISA Office Referred Program, a federal government initiative under which we are responsible to provide social support for one year to a refugee family and financial support for six months.

The general profile of Syrian refugee families depicts a father being the sole bread winner with a stay-at-home wife and 3 to 4 children. We are in the process of selecting a refugee family by reviewing information supplied by the Overseas VISA Office through CBOQ.

Please pray for the Selection Committee whom have only 24 hours to review the information and decide if that particular family would be a good match to what we can offer. Finding suitable accommodation for the selected family will be our next task.

Please let us know of any affordable 3-bedroom unit for rent in Scarborough. (alexkhlau@gmail.com)

Many other challenges lie ahead, such as overcoming language barriers, finding gainful employment and facing cultural shock. Pray that we will find creative ways to surmount them and that the love of Christ will always prevail.

 

Stay tuned, we will keep you posted.