The thought just struck me that this will be our first Christmas in Canada in a home that we own. It has been a joy to be back in our home country, after living in Ukraine and the US for nearly three decades. We are so thankful to be near friends and family, and to be a part of a ministry that is having an eternal impact around the world!
For many refugees, this will be their first Christmas in Canada. While Canadians complain about Christmas preparations, rising prices, and snow, these new arrivals are rejoicing that they are finally in a free country, having fled war and persecution.
This year, Canada intends to welcome up to 79,500 refugees and protected persons. Let me put some faces to that. Irene fled Ukraine after the war started, along with her 11-year old son, leaving most of their possessions, family and friends behind. We were able to find a retired Christian couple who graciously opened their home to them, and Jacky has begun English language classes with Irene to help her find a better job. Pray that these acts of kindness will soften Irene’s heart to the gospel.
After the US withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban quickly took control of the country. This left thousands of people exposed to terrorists, and Christians were in danger. Afghan pastors and ministry leaders were persecuted. Others were forced to flee for their lives. “We cannot go back to Afghanistan because our relatives and the neighbours we lived near know that we are Christian. They would kill us.”
Through connections only the Lord can make, ABWE has been able to connect with a precious group of these Afghan believers. After following them through an arduous journey, including time in refugee camps, we have relocated some of them to Canada.
It’s their heartbeat to serve Christ in ministry, and to reach lost Afghan refugees for Christ. We are currently seeking a pathway for three of these families to serve with ABWE Canada, in partnership with area churches and other organizations.
This year, many refugees will be thankful to be spending Christmas in Canada, despite the fact that they have left their homes, and must start all over in a strange country with virtually no possessions. God has brought the world to our doorstep. What an incredible responsibility that is to us who have been given so much by God! As we enjoy time with loved ones, freedom to worship, and more possessions than we could ever need, let us be thankful, but let us also use what God has given us to demonstrate the love of Christ to those who will be spending their first Christmas in Canada.
On behalf of the ABWE Canada family, Jacky and I wish you all a Merry Christmas, filled with rejoicing!