Matthew House can perhaps best be described in Matthew 25:35 – “I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.”
“I see social ministry as meeting the needs of newcomers to Canada in very tangible ways, but doing it with God’s love and a servant’s heart,” explains Jan Long-Mills, Executive Director of Matthew House Ottawa.
Matthew House stands out as a place of welcome for refugee claimants “of all faiths and all walks of life,” says Mills, describing the greeting process as “a warm handshake and offering them a hot meal and a safe place to stay.”
The spirit of giving is important. “We have so much here in Canada,” emphasizes Mills, “and giving what excess we have to others and saying ‘we care about you’ creates community,” she insisted.
Augustine, a refugee from Cameroon, warmly smiles while depicting the community at Matthew House as being “so wonderful, so friendly, so simple, so kind, and so lovely.”
With the passage of refugee and immigration Bill C-31, Mills admits being concerned about the community of newcomers at risk of being deported or imprisoned. Cuts to refugees’ healthcare also have her worried, especially for one of the residents at Matthew House suffering from glaucoma, who is in danger of losing her sight without a prescription. However, Mills remains optimistic: “God has his hand in the ministry.”
“It can be overwhelming but I remind myself to turn to God in prayer and ask for his strength.”
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Article and photo by Lia Kim