While teaching Canada’s elites at the prestigious St. George’s School in Vancouver, Jeff McCarrell had little idea his life would eventually lead him to some of Canada’s most marginalized people.
McCarrell’s role as a teacher cultivated the inner capacity to build relationships. “Education isn’t a transfer of data,” he observes, “the purpose of education is bringing people together to know their Lord.”
After stints at other acclaimed schools, McCarrell finally left his teaching post in 1999 to work with Dixon Ministries in a shared effort to help settle refugees in Etobicoke, Ontario.
“The whole world lives in Etobicoke,” says McCarrell. “I envision the church encompassing all these people and loving one another, carrying the burdens of another, and sharing the good news of Christ,” he said.
For the past 20 years, Dixon Ministries has worked directly with refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and beyond, sponsoring hundreds and teaching English to thousands of elementary and high school kids.
“My ministry is to stimulate people to do what God has called them to do,” says McCarrell. “I simply teach, try to give an example, and help people in their vision of what can be done,” he said.
Currently, Dixon Ministries is preparing the ground for a great influx of Somali people. “The church is expanding in the Islamic world,” says McCarrell. “I can hardly wait till [the Somalis] become a part of the church, because they’ll fit in beautifully,” he said.
The job doesn’t end when he goes home. Over the last 14 years, McCarrell along with two other roommates have been renting a house to offer up space to refugees.
Earlier this summer, McCarrell won the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his continuing service to Canadian newcomers. Even still, he remained self-effacing: “I’m receiving [this medal] on behalf of all the work that many Christians have done over the years in receiving the stranger in our midst.”
“God has a heart for the person who is vulnerable, contrite, and lowly,” McCarrell continues, “and the church has got to keep the same heart.”
Article and Photo: Lia Kim, CBOQ Communications Intern