How are you doing this Advent season?
Are you expectant?
Are you exhausted?
Are you overstimulated?
Ready to disconnect from all the noise?
In this 21st Century plugged-in world, we often catch ourselves staring blankly at our television screens and Facebook feeds. We are bombarded with more information than one person in a world of more than 7.5 billion people can possibly take in. All of this noise may even inhibit our experience of the Divine.
It is when we come face-to-face with another human being that we, as image bearers of our Creator, experience the Face of God.
Refugee sponsorship and other newcomer welcoming opportunities -- as an act of welcoming the stranger (Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:19) -- can reconnect us with this face of the Divine in profound ways.
This was the experience of Drayton Reformed Church’s congregation, sponsors of Amal, Mohammad, Loay, and Lama. In June of 2016, a young Syrian family of four travelled from their temporary home in Jordan to Drayton, a small town of about 2000 people in southwestern Ontario. Neither the church community nor the family knew what to expect.
The early days of the sponsorship were marked with hesitant and sometimes awkward intercultural interactions. But this hesitance and awkwardness quickly subsided and gave way to the formation of deep and beautiful relationships. As the family immersed themselves fully in Canadian life, members of the Drayton community invested in understanding and knowing the family’s Syrian heritage.
It is only by the grace of God that Drayton Reformed and World Renew have been able to walk alongside Amal, Mohammed, Loay, and Lama as their story continues to change and evolve. While the sponsorship period has recently ended, the relationships formed through it continue to grow richer.
The deep beauty of these relationships is a reminder of the many ways in which the Word has been made flesh. It is succinctly put and repeated often by Amal when she tells a member of the Drayton Reformed community with whom she has become close friends, “I don’t think you are a human – you are an angel.”
In The Message, Eugene Peterson’s unique retelling of the New Testament, he interprets John 1:14 this way:
“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.”
In this Christmas season of significant hustle and bustle, attempts at pristine perfection and inevitable messy brokenness, may we seek out the angels in one another. In doing so, let us pray that the Word continues to take up residence in our neighbourhoods.
You can read more about Drayton Reformed Church’s sponsorship experience here.
If you would like more information about refugee sponsorship, please connect with World Renew's Refugee Program:
by phone: 1-800-730-3490
by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org