Dear Canadian MB churches,
After 5 years of war, more than 6 million Syrians are displaced – nearly 4 million are currently registered as refugees with the UN. Neighbouring Iraq, already an unstable country, is also experiencing fresh waves of displaced citizens due to the violent acts of Islamic State (ISIL).
Canada has agreed to welcome 10,000 refugees from Syria by the end of 2016 and 3,000 refugees from Iraq in 2015 – some 60 percent of whom are expected to come through private sponsors, like church groups.
We are calling Mennonite Brethren churches to respond. I was one of 16 denominational leaders who signed a Statement of Intent on Syrian Refugees calling our congregations to assist in resettling these refugees.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (of which CCMBC is an affiliate member) has created a Middle East Refugees Resettlement Initiative.
Whether your church has been supporting refugees for a long time or is considering helping a refugee for the first time, another tool is Finding Our Way, a guide to action drawn from extensive community-based research by Rich Janzen’s Kitchener-Waterloo firm. This booklet can help your church understand the needs and discern your best contribution.
CCMBC’s resource partner for resettlement is Mennonite Central Committee, an organization with decades of experience as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Canadian government. MCC national migration and resettlement program coordinator Brian Dyck participated in meetings with the Honourable Chris Alexander, minister of citizenship and immigration, to advocate for refugees.
The Syria refugee crisis gives us the opportunity to show God’s love to displaced people without a home. It is important that Canadian Mennonite Brethren churches consider what we can do to meet this humanitarian need in the name of Christ.
Yours in Christ,
CCMBC Executive Director
August 14, 2014
Canadian Conference of MB Churches executive director Willy Reimer is encouraging all Mennonite Brethren churches to join together this Sunday, Aug. 17, in united prayer for the people of Iraq.
The UN has just declared its highest level of emergency in Iraq, estimating that 1.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced due to armed conflict. (Other countries with the same status are Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.)
The day of prayer is being coordinated via Facebook – a call echoed by the World Evangelical Alliance – where organizers have written the following: “We live in a time of great persecution against followers of our Lord Jesus in very many places in the world. More people are paying a great price for their commitment to Christ now than any other time in the life of his Church. We must talk openly both with God and with each other about this dreadful present persecution reality. And we must start with effectual, fervent prayer.
“Recently, a militant group called the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) has been gaining power in Iraq. A spin off from Al-Qaeda, IS is known for it’s brutal violence and persecution against Christians and other religious minorities.
“On July 19, a group of IS militants in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul (the ancient biblical region of Nineveh) gave an ultimatum with a deadline to the cities nearly 500,000 Christians; convert to Islam or be killed. Nearly all of those Christians made a decision to flee before the deadline, leaving their homes and lives behind.
“Over the past three weeks there have been various reports detailing the gruesome violence that IS is carrying out toward those who did not escape in time, including mass executions, beheadings, and crucifixions. Many local Christian leaders are calling it the Holocaust of the 21st Century.
“As a result of the violence, Church leaders in Iraq have chosen Sunday, August 17 a day of prayer for Iraq and Iraqi Christians. It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of such violence and tragedy, but we can come together with our Iraqi brothers and sisters by joining them in prayer and bringing their struggles to the One who reigns over all.”
Along with prayer, North American Christians can take action by supporting humanitarian aid partners working in the region, such as MCC or World Vision Canada (helping the children of Syria who are also being forced to flee as refugees).
–Canadian Conference of MB Churches release