By Julaine Palmer
In her book, “The Long Field,” Pamela Petro writes about the emotions of eagerness and dread in relationship to her love of the country of Wales. These emotions strike a chord with me in relation to the ministry of the sponsorship of refugees. We are always very eager that these folks will be able to come to Canada, as soon as possible. They always seem eager to come. But in the background, there is a little bit of dread on both sides. It is not an easy thing to be uprooted from your homeland or from the country to which you have fled and jump on an airplane to be deposited in our country of Canada. We who receive newcomers have a tiny bit of apprehension about whether we can meet the expectations of our new friends and about what surprises might be in store for us. There will be differences in their personalities, their ability to learn a new language and to adapt to a new culture. Their needs will put demands on our abilities to offer solutions or at least ideas and empathy. However, overall, there is always tremendous “JOY!” in working with newcomers. Learning about them and from them is a privilege.
I urge you to step out in faith and join a group seeking to support newcomers. Organizations like The New Canadians Centre in Peterborough are always in need of volunteers to fulfill many different roles. You will be blessed by your interaction with newcomers in ways that are unimaginable to you right now.
A good verse for newcomer ministry comes from Romans 15:13. I like how the NLT phrases it: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
An anecdote to share: Three and a half years ago a family sponsored by Gilmour Memorial Baptist Church arrived from a refugee camp in Africa in a miraculously short period of time. We had expected the sponsorship to take up to four years to be fulfilled but they were here in eight months! Of the many experiences to share, one that is the most recent is that the youngest in the family recently applied for and was granted a full scholarship as a day student to a prestigious local private school. This teenager is an amazing young person with many great leadership qualities.
God is good.