Awhile back, I hosted a beautiful sermon by the Rev. Erin Phillips on the Syrophoenician Woman and the Syrian refugee crisis.
Now, several months later, I am even more honored to share the amazing, faithful, incarnated work she and Mennonite pastor Ryan Dueck have been doing in their small town of Lethbridge.
Soon, the town will have welcomed 300 Syrian refugees, thanks to an incredible partnership and a town willing to come together for the good of humanity.
Erin explained to me that private sponsorship groups, working with government and non-governmental agencies to bring Syrian refugees to the town, are made up of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and folks of no faith at all.
“The group I’m a part of started as five groups — three Anglican churches, the university and a group of doctors — now is one group,” Erin said. “We’ve become friends as we work together and the network of support keeps growing.”
Ryan and Erin also serve on Lethbridge’s steering committee and she says she has watched people from so many different sectors — education, health, policing, EMS, housing — all working together to make this work. Even the mayor, Chris Spearman, showed up at the airport at midnight to welcome families.
“Lethbridge welcomes usually 70 refugees a year to the city and in two months welcomed more than that many Syrians while still welcoming other folks,” Erin added. “It is quite incredible to see.”
This is the kind of crisis literally solved by hospitality, love, and welcoming the other. Y’know, all that stuff Jesus talked about so much.
This is what the social, political, and theological witness of the church looks like.
“A few minutes later, Erin bursts through the door carrying locally roasted bags of coffee in one hand and ice skates in the other. “We’re going to turn these boys into Canadians yet,” she says about Muna’s nephews.
She flashes a smile the breadth of her entire face and announces Muna’s family will start arriving in two days. The scenes in Muna’s dreams are at long last unfolding.”
I believe, without a shadow of doubt, that Muna’s dreams are also God’s dreams.
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