Vol 9 No. 11 Welcoming the Stranger

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and
you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25: 35-36


Dear Folks,

Many of you will know about our long-term work with refugees in Canada. Rod Olson is working
in this area and I took some time to ask him some questions. Thanks Rod very much, both for your work
and in taking the time to do this.

1. The CBWC has a long history of advocacy around refugees, could you tell us something of that

The CBWC got really involved with refugee back with the “boat people” in the late 70’s. We
received a plaque from the Canadian Immigration Council for 30 years of service about 5
years ago.

2. Could you tell us a little bit about the work of Larry and Lynn Pearce, the Balisky’s and

Currently, Larry is working with KAIROS, an ecumenical movement in Calgary aimed at
helping families at risk or experiencing homelessness. Larry represents a collective effort
by Christians to address this need in Calgary through the purchase of a 58-unit apartment

Kinbrace, in Vancouver, offers transitional housing for people who find themselves in
Canada’s refugee protection system. Loren Balisky has been part of this work since it began
in 1998. Currently, they have two houses side-by-side with several apartments available to
house refugee claimants.

I recently visited Kinbrace on a Tuesday, which is community dinner night. If you want to see
what the kingdom of God looks like in tangible ways, I encourage anyone to visit and be part
of the welcome that is extended through Kinbrace.

3. Do we have a formal relationship with the Federal Government around refugees? What does
that relationship look like?

Yes, we are a Sponsorship Agreement Holder or SAH. The CBWC is one of 84 SAH’s in Canada
who have been authorized by the government to sponsor refugees. We only sponsor through
our churches, which become Constituent Groups who prepare the paper work and raise the

funds to give a new life to someone in need. The UNHC (United Nations High Commission for
Refugees) projects that 181,000 refugees are in need of resettlement for 2013. Canada will
take 3,000-5,000, and CBWC has space for 8 people.

4. What’s your role, and how can we be supportive of you, and you be supportive of us, in this
My role is to know and understand the paperwork; the parameters of the refugee
sponsorship program. You can be patient with me as I learn, and I will be happy to support
you in the long journey of refugee sponsorship.

5. I understand that Refugee Rights Day is coming up. Would you let us know more about that,
and also a bit more about other CBM groups in this work as well?
Refugee Rights Day will take place April 4th this year. This is the anniversary of the Supreme
Court’s 1985 Singh decision, and an opportunity to celebrate that fact that refugee rights are
human rights. More information can be found at ccrweb.ca/RRD

Welcome to refugees is taking place all across Canada. Matthew House in Toronto has grown from the
vision of Anne Woolger, from Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. In Atlantic Canada, Paul Carline, former
global field staff with CBM in Kenya, is now overseeing the welcome of refugees to that part of our


In Christ,