Friday, January 8, 2016

New project - Syrian refugees

We have started a constituency group for the support of refugees within our parish of St Barnabas. We have confirmed we are supporting a family of 6 as of today. A related family of 6 is also being supported by another parish just a few miles from us. That's 12 in total - I've got out my Arabic books and had lunch with two interpreters today. (But I can't learn that language that fast even though it is a lot like Hebrew!)

The web site that will document our progress is this one:

Please feel free to support us.

This past month, we are seeing a wonderful response of hope from all the Canadian people. Prime Minister Trudeau, at his signing-in, expressed his confidence in Canadians. This kind of leadership makes a difference, and the bottled up compassion of Canadians is bursting out. Let the spirit of hope and generosity be fully expressed.

Hospitality and providing of refuge are two of the oldest human virtues. It was in Turkey in 1997 that I first understood the reality of hospitality.

A retired Turkish jazz radio announcer named Teoman was alighting from his VW Bug in the parking lot at Gemuslık. We asked him where we might get chai. He said, not rakı? Too early, we said. Outside the restaurant were car loads of fish advertising what was inside. Our short stay for tea transformed itself into a three-hour meal, grilled Lantern fish with tomatoes and green onion, calamari, a mixed green salad, ekmek, sesame halve, and rakı - lots of it and all courtesy of Teoman. It turns out he knew and loved Bryan Adams, Paul Horn, Bobby McPherrin and Frank Sinatra. At the time we lived across the park from Paul Horn - small world! Teoman then drove us home (7 km) and a good thing, for 2 weeks later we needed his help to get the electricity working again at our house.

That is my memory of Turkish hospitality. It's clear we were lucky to be there in 1997 - things are not so happy today (see background info here). May we be as fortunate today supporting the radical journeys that refugees are taking. May we all learn generosity and open arms when the need for refuge is so great and may we not give up after one year or 10 or 100.