Many of us would like to follow the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you invited me in,” but don’t know how to go about it.
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The opportunity to welcome Canadian newcomers may be closer than we imagined. Did you know that a majority of CBOQ churches are located within an hour’s drive of one of our refugee reception centres, usually called Matthew House? These centres provide robust opportunities to establish relationships with refugees and help them adapt to life in Canada. Here are five ways you can get connected at a local Matthew House:
1. Small Town Saturdays
Refugees rarely have the opportunity to travel outside of urban centres. Is your church located in a small town? Consider inviting them to your community for a day. Members of a church outside of Toronto used to invite current and former residents of Matthew House Toronto to spend a Saturday with them, playing games, sharing food, and soaking up small town life.
2. Summer Picnics
Is your church having a picnic or other event this summer at which you could invite newly arrived and settled refugees to join you?
3. Holiday Parties
Holidays are a time when refugees can feel especially excluded. On New Year’s Day, a couple just outside of Perth, ON, invited everyone at Matthew House Ottawa that day to come out for a meal, and a great time of sharing and getting to know one another was enjoyed by all. If you like entertaining, would you be willing to share your food and your table, while you make some new friends?
All of the Matthew Houses depend greatly on their volunteers. Would you be willing to garden in the summer or rake leaves in the fall alongside residents at one of our Matthew Houses?
5. Cook a meal
Do you like to cook? Matthew House residents often share community meals, and they are open to new cuisine. Invite a few friends to come in to cook and share a meal with residents at a nearby Matthew House.
Think about the skills and gifts which you as individuals or you as a church community have, and see how those could be shared with newcomers. In so doing you will be a blessing to others, but you will also be blessed in return as you establish new relationships and share in the extension of God’s kingdom.
Any of the following refugee ministries would be delighted to hear from you!
- Matthew House Windsor
- Matthew House Fort Erie
- Micah House Hamilton
- Matthew House Toronto
- Matthew House Ottawa
- (Matthew House Montreal is taking a pause in its activities for the time being.)
Article by: Kevin Long, CBOQ’s Refugee Liaison