“No one wants to be a refugee.”
Sponsorship & Settlement Committee (Refugee Affairs) – submitted by Greta Wiens
The prophet Micah used a few words to describe what people everywhere seek and strive for:
… each of them will sit under their vine,
and under their fig tree,
with no one to make them afraid. (see Micah 4:4)
The experience of fleeing war and revolution, as well as being newcomers to Canada, is central to the history of most families in our congregation. Whether they came from Russia/Ukraine via the Canadian prairies, directly from Germany after World War II, or by way of South America or Mexico, here in Niagara they were “United” with other Mennonite Christian believers and that helped them assimilate into Canadian society.
As the years go by, and those with lived experience of war, hunger – and the dangers of whatever escape route they managed to find – give way to generations born and raised in Canada, it’s important to remember their stories and the gratitude they so often expressed to God for the opportunity they had to rebuild their lives here. Most of our families were assisted, at some point, by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) which continues to provide refugee sponsorship and resettlement services (among other programs) “in the name of Christ”.
MCC is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Canadian government. Through MCC, our church sponsored a Vietnamese family in the late 1970s/early 1980s. A generation later, the Sponsorship and Settlement Committee was formed in response to a crisis of displacement in Colombia. Members of our church helped resettle two families from that country in 2003 and 2007. In 2013, we welcomed a family group from Iraq, and from 2016 to 2019 we focused on settlement for an extended family from Syria.
As I write this in February 2022, yet another war has broken out in our world, a world that never seems to be short of conflict and the kind of turmoil that sends people spilling over borders in search of refuge. The huge number of people around the world who have been displaced from their homes and separated from their families and all that is familiar, is still a number made up of individuals who were made in God’s image as we are.
That, and our own history, is what has motivated us at Niagara United Mennonite Church to sponsor refugees in the past. However, we don’t have an active sponsorship committee right now. Instead, we ask that interested parties contact Mennonite Central Committee directly.
Please note: Occasionally our church receives direct requests from individuals and agencies seeking assistance for a particular family. In general – aside from having paused refugee work for the time being – we are unable to accommodate these “named” sponsorships, one of the reasons being that the application process in such cases is very time-consuming and not necessarily successful. Rather, MCC prefers that we choose candidates who have already been approved for resettlement by a Canadian visa office abroad.
Communication on the subject of refugee sponsorship may be directed to our church office.
To contribute financially to our refugee sponsorship and settlement, please click here.
To contact our Sponsorship & Settlement Committee (Refugee Affairs), please contact the church office.