I serve at a refugee home based in Toronto. Motivated by God’s love, we welcome and serve refugee claimants to Canada. Despite the ways Covid-19 has changed the world and our way of life, our staff and residents are staying well in this tough time.
Unfortunately, we’ve had to take several precautions that have changed our regular rhythms: 1) We have had to cancel our weekly Bible studies and games nights, 2) We aren’t able to see our volunteers and friends who drop by and interact with our residents, 3) We have had to cancel marathon practice, soccer games, and outings, and 4) We aren’t able to accommodate any new residents.
This unusual time has brought a variety of unique challenges that significantly impact our residents. Many services that are typically accessed are closed, ESL classes and training programs are cancelled, they cannot continue to look for housing and employment at this time, and the Immigration and Refugee Board has cancelled all hearings until further notice. This has been certainly disappointing for many of these residents who are anxiously waiting to settle down and reunite with family.
“We’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept… Be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (Message)
Since things have been on hold, and not much is going on at the residence, it is however, a good time to chat and have relaxing conversations about the gospel. This brings about opportunities to talk about life and introduce Jesus and his good news. Being present and staying with them also allows us to get to know each other better and build deeper and more meaningful friendships.
In partnership with a local church, we have also prepared care packages to regularly distribute to current residents and former residents. In this way we hope to show them the love of God in tangible ways during this quarantine season. This is one of the ways to imitate Jesus, moving towards those who are vulnerable and in need. As well, I also go around the city, delivering vegetables, fruit, and care packages (with vitamins, meat and poultry) to whoever may need it. We are also looking for more churches to partner with us and get involved through donations, as we are looking to help provide more supplies, such as toilet paper, laundry soap, and more.
As Mother Teresa has put it, “Do small things with great love.” Similarly, James Hudson Taylor has said “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.” Imitating Christ is to follow in the direction of Jesus. I am planning to visit eight young men, who live together in a transitional house, with fruits and snacks. Moved and empowered by the love of Christ, I hope to continue to share the love of God with them and others.
Allen* is an Interserve Partner working with refugees in Toronto.
*Names have been changed.