New Hope for Refugees
Jack Taylor, senior pastor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in the southeast of Vancouver, will always remember the day Rose arrived from Congo. She landed on their doorstep in 2004, even before New Hope House for refugees opened. (New Hope began as a partnership between Faith Baptist, El Redentor – a Spanish church meeting in the same premises – and Baptist Housing.) How could they turn Rose away? Church members scrambled to furnish the house. Rose cried daily for four months, revisiting her escape during a raid on her village, wondering if her husband had survived. After four years he did arrive and she had two beautiful children. Rose has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and we are praying.
Esperance, from a Tanzanian refugee camp, arrived with her seven year old son, seven months pregnant. New Hope’s first baby was showered with practical gifts. A Canadian tea turned into an international feast! ‘Families’ were formed as women shared their life stories and senior ladies of the church were adopted as mothers by the refugee women. Together, “they learned to love and pray like they never had before” says Taylor.
Isabel Runciman, an octogenarian, adopted three daughters – from Bangladesh, Mexico and Swaziland. Her enthusiasm and energy smoothes their transition to Canadian culture.
Over the past ten years, 350 refugees from 47 countries have impacted Faith’s family. Taylor, a missionary for 18 years in Kenya, says, “The prayers of righteous people have become a lot more powerful, specific and effective.”
Fifty nations celebrate together in Faith’s worship services. Their intention is to engage and impact the nations in their neighbourhood. The annual Circle of Nations Day [2nd Sunday in June] celebrates with national dress, international flags and food from China, Congo, Fiji, Holland, Hungary, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines and more. On Canada Day Faith's family welcomes their community with African dancing, Filipino bamboo dancing, Spanish songs, Korean cotton candy and a variety of artistic displays.
New Hope Community Services Society[www.newhopecs.org] provides a network of legal, medical and employment transitional assistance, fulfilling their goal “to assist refugee and new vulnerable immigrants to become interdependent.” Friday food banks supply sustenance for 200 community families, partnering with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.
New Hope Child Care welcomes children between three and 12 years old, from 60 international families. Joy Manuel, from Pakistan, walked away from 20 years of professional experience to launch this service. In 2009, she received the Cultural Harmony Award from the City of Vancouver for “her ability to bring hope and opportunity to people facing obstacles and challenges.” [www.vancouver.ca/people-programs/recipients.aspx]
Faith’s congregation of 200 follows international news more closely now, praying for countries experiencing disaster and for relatives of people that have become family. Taylor states, “It keeps people engaged with real needs. It has transformed how we care.”
“We’re getting a taste of heaven,” he asserts. It’s reminiscent of Revelation 7:9, where we look forward to every nation, tribe, people and language worshipping at the throne of God.