Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Refugees’ Category

I’m Sorry, Christian, But You Don’t Get to Make That Move

I have a bone to pick with Christians this morning. Not all Christians. Not even the majority of Christians in my (limited) circles. Not by a long shot. No, my concern is with a smaller subset of Christians that tend to make a disproportionate amount of noise. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of conversations with Christian people about the Syrian refugee crisis. I’ve observed a lot of reaction and response from Christian people online. And I’ve noticed some of these Christian brothers and sisters buying into the fear and the hysteria that attempts to convince us that we need to keep our nation’s doors resolutely closed to refugees from this part of the world. Read more

On Beard Pulling

After a week that has been dominated by work on our local refugee project, I finally sat down this morning to spend some focused time with the lectionary texts for Sunday morning. The passage I had agreed to preach on was Isaiah 50:4-9a, one of the famous “servant songs,” that contains these words:

I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

Read more

The Interests of Jesus

The news continues to be dominated by the Syrian refugee crisis. And, given our little church’s efforts (along with other churches and groups in our community) toward bringing a few families to Lethbridge, my time is increasingly being dominated by the same. I have found myself doing very odd things this week—things like speaking about our project on radio programs and being interviewed by television and newspaper reporters. Yesterday’s foray into the media world reminded me that there’s a reason why I prefer writing to speaking. You get a bit more time to think and measure your responses when you can hide behind a screen!   Read more

Photos Not Taken

It’s been quite a week. The photo. The frantically updating news stories, the backtracking when the facts turned out to be less factual than we hoped, the politicking, the mud-slinging, the blaming and shaming and holier-than-thou-ing. The frenzied recirculating of the same articles from the same sources by click happy, guilt-ridden technophiles.  The endless liking and sharing that we reflexively do when we don’t know what else to do. The [shudder] piled up blog posts from anyone with an hour to kill and an opinion or two. Read more

As Yourself

I have a long list of tasks that require my attention this afternoon, but like many others no doubt, my mind keeps drifting back to an image of a little boy on a Turkish beach. A little boy who, along with his brother and mother and father set out on an unsteady boat toward an unsteady future. A little boy who, along with his brother and mother, never made it to his destination. It shouldn’t take a picture like this to move us all, I know.  There are horrible things happening around the world every day.  And the image of a little life cruelly cut short should never be used as click bait.

But that picture… Christ Almighty, that picture! Read more

Unnatural Order

Every day, it seems, the refugee crisis in Europe worsens. Every day, the headlines that jump out at me when I open my computer in the morning are grim and foreboding. Last week it was capsized boats and trucks on the side of the road. This morning, it’s a train station in Budapest where police are preventing thousands of migrants from boarding trains bound for Germany. And tomorrow?  Next week, month, year? Who knows? Read more

On Doors and Shores and Sides of Roads

I stared at the headline for a while in mute silence: “Austrian police say up to 50 migrants’ bodies found in truck.” It’s the kind of headline that you read and think, “Whatever awful realities will unfold underneath those words, they surely shouldn’t be nicely filed there on the side bar of a website, right underneath news of Celine Dion returning to perform in Las Vegas or Apple’s latest “media event” or the latest round of lies promises being served up by Canadian politicians on the election trail today. They shouldn’t be nicely filed anywhere. Read more

Two Pictures 

Two pictures popped up on my computer this afternoon.

The first was of the two families from Syria that will be coming to Lethbridge as part of a refugee sponsorship initiative that our church is a part of. No names, just a picture of nine pictures on a table. Nine precious people currently living as refugees in Lebanon, far from home, waiting for their claims to be processed. Nine people whose city and country lies in ruins. Nine people who can probably never go home. Nine faces in nine photographs laid out on a brown table. What have those nine faces seen, I wonder? What hopes do those nine faces have for their future? What might those nine faces make of a place like Lethbridge, AB, Canada? I imagine speaking with them, of playing with their kids, of becoming their friends. But these nine faces still seem a world away. Read more

The Spirit Sighs

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon and evening with a delightful bunch of young adults from around the world who were visiting our area and our church as part of MCC Alberta’s Planting Peace Program. The idea behind the program is to gather young adults from many different places for two weeks in Alberta to learn, to share stories, and to share life together.  The hope (and the reality) is that the participants will come to deeper understandings of their common humanity, and that their common commitment to peace and to breaking down of walls that we human beings are so good at erecting between each other will be strengthened. Yesterday, there were representatives from Kenya, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, South Africa, and, of course, from various parts of Canada. It was a good day full of good stories.

There were also two young men from Syria. Read more

It’s (Too) Easy for Me to Say I’m a Pacifist

Like so many others, Syria has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve read dozens of articulate and well-reasoned arguments against any kind of military intervention. I’ve read many passionate and biblically sound anti-war-pleas from people whose views I deeply respect. I spent a good chunk of the prayer time during worship last Sunday praying for peace in Syria, praying that no more lives would be sacrificed on the altars of power, ideology, economics and religion. I know that this is what I am supposed to do and say and read and pray as a Mennonite, as a pastor. But it has all felt, I don’t know, a bit hollow. Read more

“Just Tell Them Our Stories”

From a journal entry, written after a recent visit with a politician to discuss Canada’s role in the nation of Colombia—a country I visited this past April as part of a Mennonite Central Committee Learning Tour.


So this is what they look like, these “official” buildings. A flag in front of the building. A cheery reception area with sun pouring through large windows. A bright, attractive receptionist who steers me toward a comfortable chair and brings weak coffee in a paper cup. We make polite conversation. I go over my notes. Read more