“I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”
In January of 2015, in response to the magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis, three individuals from three different churches in Cobourg each got in touch with their respective pastors. Unbeknownst to each other at the time, they each shared a common vision for their church to sponsor a refugee family.
These three pastors then shared the vision among a larger Northumberland Christian network comprised of pastors, chaplains, and leaders. This larger network had a history of collaboration, as two years earlier, six churches had together raised $90,000 and built a home for a local family through Habitat for Humanity. This previous partnership laid the foundation for this group of pastors to once again step out in faith and commit to sponsoring 3 to 5 refugee families, this time with two additional partnering churches.
The Vision Expands
In the face of such a devastating crisis, many people wonder, “What can I do?” or “How can I make a difference?” Through Better Together, we have the opportunity to respond in a practical and profound way, and various people in our community had the same idea and wanted to support a local initiative.
As conversations between different church leaders began to take place, the vision quickly grew beyond what we had originally imagined. During the summer of 2015, as the larger community started to hear of the possibility of responding locally to a global crisis with care and compassion, people began to email and call daily, wanting to get involved.
As the project has grown, we have seen the partnership expand to include many of our local churches, community organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals with the same heart and vision to welcome refugees to our community. Additionally, we have been encouraged and inspired to see other groups within our community and across the country working together to sponsor families, including creating and sharing resources for refugees.
Our mission is to connect individuals, faith groups, community organizations and businesses in Northumberland to work together in providing welcome, safety, security, and the needed support for Syrian refugee families seeking refuge from war and violence to become active and contributing members of our communities.
The Story Continues
At this time, we have over a hundred people who have offered their support and services in different ways. Some are serving on our core settlement teams which will support the families in all aspects of their transition into life in Canada. Others have volunteered as part of a committee such as our executive team, prayer team, communications team, finance team, and fundraising team. Still others have been already collecting and sorting the generous donations of clothing and furniture as we prepare for the arrival of our families.
The beginning of this story was sparked by God calling His church to respond to a tremendous need. The words of Jesus compelled us: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35). As the story continues, we have been grateful for the incredible people and partnerships within Better Together. As our name implies, we know that we are better, stronger, and more equipped to achieve our goals when we work together, and that it takes many different people to make the vision a reality.
Thank you to all those who are part of this story. We have a long road still ahead of us. Would you consider joining us in the journey and extending compassion and support to those who are in great need?