Seeking the face of Christ in the refugee

“As the world in some places moves in the direction of inward focus, protectionism, xenophobia, racism and other closed-minded attitudes, we are continuing to seek to offer a more radical welcome to some of the world’s most vulnerable people in the name of Jesus Christ. We continue to seek the face of Christ in the stranger, whom we are working to welcome as our neighbour and friend,” the Reverend Scott McLeod, Coordinator for Niagara’s Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (NRSI), reported to Synod.

For over a decade Niagara Diocese has come alongside those seeking protection. Through the Private Sponsorship Agreement with the Canadian government any congregation, as well as affiliated ecumenical or community groups, can become sponsors for overseas individuals or families who are classed as refugees.

While sponsorship represents a significant commitment, there are a variety of options available to interested groups to make sponsorship both affordable and manageable.

At the time of writing, 12 families arrived, 16 sponsorships were completed in 2015 and 2016, five cases are awaiting decisions and nine new applications being developed.

In addition, a limited number of family-linked cases to reunite refugees with Canadian relatives are in the works. The demand for this type of sponsorship is almost unlimited, yet government caps prevent NRSI from presently taking on new family-linked cases.

Niagara continues its work to welcome refugees, one person, one family at a time into our communities, be they Christian, Muslim, any faith or no faith.

The future direction of the Refugee Sponsorship Initiative is to achieve the dream that every parish in Niagara diocese would be sponsoring refugees for resettlement, alongside all of the other good work that they do, in the name of Jesus Christ.