It is June 20, World Refugee Day. Near the Mexico-U.S. border, thousands of people are waiting. Fleeing conflict and violence in their own countries, they are seeking safety. Reports emerge of refugee children being detained and separated from their parents, who are also locked up. These families are torn apart by a policy of “zero tolerance” for so-called “illegal immigrants.”
Mushiya Christine, left, Kayaya Lulula Clementine and Veronique Lumba Misenga take part in a support group for refugee seniors in Durban, South Africa. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)
Jean Pierre Mpiana and Yabu Miadi carry a sack of corn flour, oil and beans they received during a distribution by the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Congo, an MCC partner. They were among 180 households of displaced people who received a three-month supply of food. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)
Reverend Riad Jarjour, president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, holds some of the contents of monthly food packages for Syrian families. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)
There are more than 65 million displaced people worldwide—nearly double the population of Canada. The United Nations says this number is unprecedented and the need for humanitarian assistance is only growing.
MCC holds regular tours of the border between Arizona and Mexico to raise awareness of increasing migrant deaths, militarization, environmental degradation and effects on habitat and sister communities across the border. In this 2015 photo, a Borderlands Learning Tour saw three Romanian migrant women and a baby processed as asylum seekers. (MCC photo by Jorge Vielman)
Cindy Cumberbatch, an attorney from College Hill Mennonite Church in Tampa, Florida, works part time with the church, providing legal advice to immigrants in the area. (MCC photo by Andrew Bodden)
These cards and pen distributed by MCC immigration staff are practical resources that help immigrants know their rights. (MCC photo by Brenda Burkholder)
As the U.S. government increases immigration enforcement, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. has been expanding its legal training, resources and educational opportunities for immigrants and advocates.
The private sponsorship group welcomes Christian and Esperance Manwengwe to Calgary last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)
There are 23 million refugees around the world, with 1.2 million in need of resettlement outside of their home country or region.
In 2017, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) helped groups resettle 442 people through the Blended Visa Officer Referred (BVOR) program. That was about one-third of all people who arrived in Canada in that category.
As depicted in Wavelength Entertainment’s series, Bridging Borders, a group of friends from Saskatoon’s Nutana neighbourhood sponsors a family from Sudan. Sponsors and newcomers quickly become friends. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)
In the third episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, connects a Syrian woman with a sponsorship group who help her family come to Canada. Kushel and the woman laugh together at the airport as they await the arrival of the woman’s family. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)
A new television documentary series featuring the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is currently airing on City-Saskatchewan TV.
People in your country are angry at the government. They gather to protest peacefully, and the government responds by opening fire on the protesters. The occasional bomb goes off and people are fighting in the streets. Soon, it’s not safe for you to leave the house and go to work. When food is available, it’s very expensive. You have the option to pay smugglers to get you out of the country.
Not feeling safe in the United States, a young woman climbed on a plane and flew to Montreal with her children. But the U.S. is considered a safe country for refugees, so she was forced to return. Still afraid, she crossed the border into Quebec and ended up at Coalition d’aide aux réfugiés à Montréal (Coalition to aid refugees in Montreal), housed in the Hochma church building.
Last year I wrote about Advent as a time of pregnant waiting, and of the way that Mary exemplifies mothering as the embodied practice of hospitality, fulfilling the biblical call to welcome the stranger (Lev. 19:33-34, Matt. 25, etc.) You can read “Making space for the stranger” here.
Today, I'm reflecting on Jesus as a refugee.