Vol 11 No. 8 Refugees and Our Partners

Dear Friends,

I have asked our Heartland Regional Minister Mark Doerksen to collect some information and observations around Syrian Refugees and the critical place many of these refugees (including Christians) are having in this present time of civil war and unrest in Syria. Lebanon and Jordan are particularly feeling the burden of these events, and while there are several places of catastrophic tragedy occurring in our world, Syrian refugee concern is of utmost importance. It is also an opportunity for us to respond when so much of what we see in the world around us is fraught with a sense that evil seems to dominate and we sometimes feel unable to do anything. In fact, there is often a lot we can do. This may be for you personally, or for your church, something that is important to pray about and act on. This memo is the work of Mark Doerksen, which encompasses the thoughts Rod Olson has shared with us and the work Rod does on behalf of the CBWC.


In Christ

Jeremy Bell


Mark Doerksen, Heartland Regional Minister

Loren Balisky, from the Kinbrace Community Society, writes that there are more than 43 million displaced people in our world. Almost half of these are refugees. Refugees differ from immigrants in that they have very little choice in where they end up living. They are in exile, away from home, and often suffering many forms of trauma.

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada have a strong tradition of welcoming refugees to Canada, especially since the 1970’s. This year, there are new opportunities to welcome refugees to this great country. The government of Canada is especially concerned for Syrian refugees, and wants faith communities to play a large role in helping many settle here. CBWC’s Rod Olson writes that there is now no cap or limit to how many Syrians we can sponsor for 2015.

An opportunity to respond tangibly has arisen In the midst of this humanitarian crisis. Blair Clark from Canadian Baptist Ministries has suggested that the CBOQ, the CABC, and the CBWC churches consider sponsoring 100 families across Canada. The most likely channel for Canadian Baptist churches willing to participate is the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. However, in our current context, The Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program has further expedited the process by having selected refugees already who are travel-ready. This means that refugees sponsored under this program would arrive in Canada sooner, usually within 1-4 months, and the Canadian government will cover 50% of the costs. Additionally, the sponsored Syrian families are recommended by CBM partners in Lebanon.

We are hoping for churches to take a risk and respond to this opportunity. If fundraising is done for this sort of project above and beyond annual budgeting, more people could conceivably arrive here safely, sooner than later.

If you sense the Lord prompting you or your congregation in this matter, or if you have further questions, please contact Rod Olson (rolson@cbwc.ca or 1.800.820.2479) at the CBWC office in Calgary.