UPDATE: Ontario Conference Continues to Show Compassion to Refugees Amidst Crisis
Posted: August 10th, 2023
As Ontario grapples with an ongoing refugee crisis, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has taken a proactive role in making a tangible difference in the lives of refugees. Pastor Andrew King, the Director of Compassion Ministries at the Ontario Conference, sheds light on the church's continuing efforts to aid those affected by the crisis.
Pastor King, working closely with his team, has been rallying resources and support from various churches. Every week, essential food and toiletries that have been generously donated by different congregations are delivered by the vanload to address the urgent needs of the refugees and asylum seekers. Recently, Pastor King assessed the conditions firsthand at two major locations in Toronto: Revivaltime Tabernacle on Dufferin Street and Dominion Church International on Shepherd Avenue.
"It breaks my heart to see these people, looking for a new life in this great country, living in such conditions," Pastor King expressed with genuine concern. He was referring to the dire circumstances faced by over 200 individuals living temporarily in the churches, many sleeping on the floor. With Toronto's government shelters operating at maximum capacity, refugees have been turned away since June. While those seeking asylum through federal programs can't get help until their claims are fully processed; leaving people stuck in limbo with nowhere to sleep.
As the government works to move refugees from churches into hotels as a temporary solution, Pastor King emphasized the Ontario Conference's commitment to continue to offer these individuals support to, “Help give these people a sense of dignity in a very difficult situation.”
Pastor King expressed his gratitude for the GTA Federation of Community Services, a group of Adventist Churches working together to support those in need. He also thanked all the individual churches around the Conference that have been actively supporting those in need through prayer, financial aid, and material support. These efforts are crucial in ensuring that basic living necessities are met and that the suffering of the refugees is alleviated.
Despite the tremendous efforts of churches to provide necessities, the demand still outpaces the supply. If you or your church would like to contribute and show the love of Christ by helping others during this crisis, reach out to the Compassion Ministry department at the Conference. “It is best that donations and assistance are coordinated, to ensure specific needs are being met and resources shared appropriately,” said Pastor King. At present, there are four key needs: food and toiletries, sleeping cots so people do not have to sleep on the floor, winter clothing, and volunteers willing to donate their time and expertise. This includes not only helping in the distribution of resources but also people with expertise in counselling and in the immigration process.
As we come ever closer to Jesus, there will be a growing need for churches to show the love of Christ not only through preaching the Word but in demonstrating love and compassion to those in need. We need to be ready. If you would like to volunteer or if your church would like to be connected with your local Adventist Federation of Community Services, the Compassion Ministry department stands ready to assist.
As the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to play an integral role in supporting refugees and asylum seekers during this crisis, the words of Ellen G. White resonate in our present circumstances: "We are to think and care for others who need our love, our tenderness, and care. We should ever remember that we are representatives of Christ and that we are to share the blessings that He gives… for the purpose of bringing brightness into their dreary lives, for the purpose of relieving their poverty and distress…, acting unselfishly and in harmony with the instruction of Christ.” The Review and Herald, November 12, 1895.