A message as of September 10, 2015
Greetings PAOC family,
I trust this message finds you well. But like us, I am sure your heart is heavy as you have been watching the news and all that is unfolding with the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. We have been working diligently over the last few months on a number of fronts, and would like to give you a more detailed update of the three-pronged approach the PAOC has been taking and will continue to pursue. There are a number of ways you and your local church can be involved. Your prayer and financial support will help us continue our efforts as we respond to this critical need that affects so many.
Canada - Refugee Sponsorship Opportunities
In Canada, the PAOC has been a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with the Canadian Government since 2003. We do continuous work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In April, I and other denominational leaders met with the Minister of Immigration to establish a task force to enlarge the Canadian response. I then visited with Jordanian leadership in May. Please know that as a PAOC church, you can become a “Constituent Group” and begin the process of sponsoring a refugee family, helping them find safety and a new home in Canada.
In the last few years, we have not commented much on this opportunity as government caps were put in place to deal with some of the backlog of refugee files in the various visa offices. The Syrian/Iraqi Crisis, however, is presently not a capped process, and as a local church you can consider sponsoring a refugee family. Identification, security and integrity are of utmost importance as we work with our government in this manner. We have done some recent work on the ground in Jordan, and connected with our Assemblies of God partners there, to identify and begin the documentation for families that would be eligible for resettlement into Canada. There are a number of opportunities at hand in our three-pronged approach.
Call To Action
1. Participate in a Private Sponsorship Webinar. Take part in a webinar held by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP). These webinars will provide an overview of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, including who can sponsor refugees, who can be sponsored, and the sponsorship process. Learn the basics of the government’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program and be able to ask questions of a RSTP trainer. There are two dates coming up. If interested, please register right away as these sessions do fill up fast. UPDATE: Original dates listed below have passed or are now full. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain new webinar information.
Date: Tuesday, September 15
Time: 1:00PM - 2:30PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Date: Monday, September 21
Time: 1:00PM - 2:30PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
2. Giving Opportunity. To provide financial support to assist in the sponsorship and resettlement of Syrian refugees by our local PAOC churches in Canada, please designate your donation to the Mission Canada Refugee Resettlement-Helping Newcomers to Canada account (Account MC2805). You can also donate online at https://paoc.org/donate/canada-refugee-sponsorhip-opportunities.
3. Become a PAOC Constituent Group. Email email@example.com to express your interest. Mission Canada will email you documentation to complete, return and provide next steps for how to get involved in the sponsorship of a Syrian refugee individual or family.
International Missions - Resettlement / Education of Refugees
We are working with our European partners to provide for European resettlement including in a facility the PAOC has in one of the countries. This has been in process since July. As well, PAOC International Missions, in partnership with Global Ed, LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania and some additional international partners, are responding to the Syrian/Iraqi refugee crisis by creating a hopeful opportunity for young people who find themselves as refugees. Our partnership will set up a new school and program in Tbilisi, Georgia, northeast of Turkey. It’s a simple vision—identify and deliver from the region about 150 university-ready students each year and place them in a location where they can receive holistic care and academic preparation by ministry-minded teachers and staff. Then, transition them to university settings where they will continue to grow under the care of others who share the same vision for restored hope. The vision is pretty clear, but challenging to achieve.
Call To Action: Click on this link to see how you can help internationally in our response. https://paoc.org/donate/hopeforsyria.
Strong>ERDO - Relief Opportunities
We have been engaged in addressing the critical needs of providing emergency relief supplies, including food, through our trusted Canadian partner working in Eastern Turkey. Help is critical for the thousands of refugees located in the Torballi and Yezidi Camps. With support from congregations, we are planning to deliver emergency food baskets to families in the camps for a four-month period. An estimated 3,000 people will be helped if we are able to raise $100,000 in the next 60 days. While food and water don’t solve all of the issues that Syrian refugees are facing, it does offer them some comfort during their time of physical need. ERDO has been working with refugees impacted by ISIS for the past two years, already providing over $150,000 in assistance to refugee aid. Included in the beneficiaries are Syrian refugees living in southern Lebanon, Beirut and Turkey, and internally displaced refugees in Northern Iraq.
Call To Action: Encourage your church members to donate generously and pray fervently. To support ERDO’s relief endeavours, visit www.erdo.ca/crisis-response-syria.
In closing, some people through ERDO’s social media sites and PAOC dialogue have questioned why we are involved in such hostile parts of the world to help refugees. ERDO shared the following thoughts with their donors just yesterday and we would like to pass them on to you today as well. We pray that people in your church will not feel animosity to Syrians, or other refugees. May these points help equip you for questions that may arise:
- God's invitation is for us to extend ourselves and welcome those who are outcast. It seems to me that applies to the current trauma faced by millions who have been cast out from all they know and love. Isn't home a place where you belong? Scriptures remind us to help people find home again. Isaiah says that as we do this we too are blessed.
- In Deuteronomy where God says “welcome the poor and alien into your midst,” the right translation there is “welcome YOUR poor.” We are connected in a real way to the dispossessed. We belong to them and they belong to us.
- What is happening in Syria and the Middle East is not one faith against other faiths but extremists vs. moderates. Jesus taught us how to respond in these situations in His parable of the Good Samaritan. When asked, “Who is our neighbour?” Jesus doesn't give a definition of neighbour. He simply says our neighbour is someone whose need we see and whose need we can help.
- We shouldn’t define our neighbour; we get to discover our neighbour. This is our moment, our time to follow Jesus into the complexity of the Middle East. Jesus was a refugee, and knows of the suffering that these current day people are enduring.
Thank you for your time in considering this detailed update, and how you can be involved. We trust it is helpful to you today. Please direct any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to communicate on an active basis within a very fluid crisis situation. We are committed to pray and act.
Grace and Peace,
General Superintendent, PAOC