On September 6, 2015, Rev. Karen Dickey reflected on Mark 7: 24-37 in which a Syrian woman begs Jesus to help her starving child. Karen closed with these words: “What you hearing this morning? As you allow your heart to open to the cry of Syrian woman in this story and the cry of the Syrian people in the news, what are you hearing? What is stirring in you? … That’s not a rhetorical question but a genuine invitation to speak up!! What is stirring in you?”

In the silence that followed came a hopeful voice from the back of the sanctuary, “Could we sponsor a Syrian refugee?” The question came from Joan.

The James Bay Refugee Initiative (JBRI), called into life on that Sunday, has grown to a community-wide organization whose supporters are waiting for the arrival of the first refugee sponsored by the group. To many it feels like waiting for a birth…the anticipation…the slight trepidation… the preparation. As they wait, the group learns a little Arabic, furnishes the apartment that will be the newcomer’s home and plans fundraising events.

There is someone in a refugee camp in the Middle East who will soon leave behind the “refugee” designation and become simply a “newcomer” to Canada. Members of the JBRI are waiting with eager anticipation to meet this person about whom they care deeply before they ever meet.

The possibility for welcoming the stranger, for revealing God’s love, mercy, grace and compassion doesn’t end here as we continue to raise money to sponsor a refugee family.

If you wish to make a donation you may do so by eaving a cheque made out to James Bay United Church at the church office at 511 Michigan (with “refugee sponsorship” in the memo line). If the church is closed there is a secure mailbox by the side door.