Like me, when you saw the images of panic and desperation in Afghanistan last August, you may have fallen to your knees in prayer. “Lord, this is terrible! What will happen to the people of Afghanistan?”
Many of us remember our own history when revolution and war caused many of our relatives to flee persecution, hunger and death, seeking refuge.
Since the crisis began, hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country. Now, more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees are scattered across the globe—with another 3 million displaced within Afghanistan’s borders. These people have faced hunger, persecution, job loss and even death.
The Canadian government has announced readiness to take in 40,000 persons at risk which includes privately sponsored refugees.
Among the various acceptable groups is one that is of particular interest to us as Mennonites. Afghan Christians, because of their faith, are recognized as belonging to a vulnerable group which makes them eligible to be sponsored to come to Canada. This group is mainly a result of missionary and Christian teaching activities. In Afghanistan, it is a criminal offence to convert to Christianity, punishable by death. Despite the killing of Christians, their numbers grew especially in the more recent past. Many Christians who were persecuted or targeted left even before the August events.
After the change of Government in Afghanis, many others fled, but some of the Islamic neighboring countries are not safe for Christians. The situation for these Afghan Christians is particularly critical.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 6 to take every opportunity to do good, especially to those who are fellow believers. The Afghan situation is calling us to focus anew on the displaced Afghan Christians. The body of Christ must respond.
As part of the Anabaptist community in Canada, along with other Mennonite Conferences, we ask our MB churches to consider sponsoring an Afghan Christian family.
Colleagues who have worked with Afghans for many years are aware of many Afghans outside the country who are in particularly vulnerable situations. Our goal is to find 100 homes for them in Canada. Through faith, we believe it is possible. As a community, we have tremendous resources. We can work together to provide a safe home for some of the millions of refugees who have lost their homes.
As part of the Anabaptist community in Canada, we have a long history of supporting refugees. We believe it is a holy calling to offer hospitality to these “strangers” (Genesis 18:1–15; Matthew 25:35; Hebrews 13:2), providing homes for the homeless, hope in a time of need and a tangible witness of the presence of God.
We’re grateful for our partnership with Mennonite Central Committee, who has agreed to be a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), providing the required guarantee given to the Canadian Government. MCC has been helping churches sponsor refugees in Canada since 1979. MCC agreed to create a special program to assist the sponsoring of the targeted Afghan refugees.—we don’t have to figure it out alone.
Sponsoring a refugee is a big commitment. So, I encourage you to do several things. First, study the situation. One helpful resource is a worship package created by MCC called “A Refugee People: How the Church Can Choose Welcome in the Face of Global Displacement.”
Second, I encourage you to learn about the process. If you want to know more, go to MCC’s website at mcccanada.ca/refugees. You’ll find a short video that explains the basics of the process, including the time, financial and relational commitments.
Third, I encourage you to pray about it. What is God calling you and your congregation to at this moment?
Finally, connect directly with our office. We’d love to hear more about your calling and how it might be an important piece of the bigger picture. We also want to keep track of our MB congregations who are willing to commit to refugee sponsorship. Along with other Canadian Council of Anabaptist Leaders (CCAL) participating conferences we hope to sponsor these very vulnerable refugees as soon as possible. The matter is urgent. While the process will take some time, an early indication of intent, followed by a firm commitment will be a great help in developing this new program.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who express interest by March 4, 2022, will be invited to a future town hall meeting where MCC representatives will be on hand to share information and answer questions.
Or contact your local MCC office by emailing email@example.com or calling 1-888-622-6337.
I reflect on the magi, the foreigners in the nativity scene. The coming of Jesus brought together people from vastly different cultures. I also think about what happened afterwards; how Joseph, after being warned in a dream, took his new family to another country to save their lives. That same story has been carried out countless times since then. God’s people often have had to flee their homes.
God’s people have also welcomed those who fled. Will you be part of that welcome?