Tag Archives: refugees

Still looking for help.

Seeking Safety

By Janet Stobie

I’m still working on the “Pitch” for my new novel,  Seeking Safety.  For those of you who don’t know, “Pitch” is writer’s language for the words that go on the back cover of my book. These words need to catch the reader’s interest without giving away too much about the book. This pitch is a little long. I’ve incorporated the suggestions you have made from my last effort. Please consider making a comment. I need your help.  My questions for you my readers, and supporters are:

1. Does this pitch tweek your interest?

2. If you picked the book up in a bookstore, maybe because you liked the front cover, would reading this on the back cover push you toward buying the book?

Pitch for Seeking Safety by Janet Stobie  (sequel to Fireweed and also a stand alone novel).

Seventeen year-old Renée Grenville and her dad Steve are slowly rebuilding lives. Serena (Renée’s mom) was killed in a car crash two years ago. Now, Steve’s readiness for a new relationship threatens to topple Renée’s fragile security. While researching her mom’s past for a school project, Renée discovers a tiny book with faded writing. Serena’s great grandmother, a Barnardo child had kept a diary.

Renée and Steve’s lives are further complicated by the arrival of a refugee family in Catalpa Creek bringing joy and terror. Close friendships offer joy, sorrow and guilt to both Renée and her dad.

Seeking Safety is a coming of age novel, not just for Renée, but her Dad and the Catalpa Creek community.

 

“Do a Small Thing with Great Love.” (Mother Theresa)

 

Last month I stepped beyond words into commitment. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be my last. Still, it felt huge, exciting and scary. Over the last few months, I have written several articles about our need to respond as individuals to the Syrian refugee crisis. As a writer and speaker I know the value of words, but I’m aware that words must issue in action.

Being a woman of faith, I have read the words from the book of James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” I know the value of showing my faith through my actions. It was time for me as an individual to live what I was preaching. I knew I couldn’t care for all of the refugees fleeing violence around the world. I knew I couldn’t care for all of the refugees that our government is bringing to Canada, or even to Peterborough. What I could do, and what Tom and I both did, was join with a group of twelve individuals, all of whom have pledged to support one government-arranged refugee family with practical action like transportation, finding housing, and friendship.

 Yes, this is only one family, one tiny drop in the ocean of refugees. As Mother Theresa so eloquently told us:

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

I am grateful to God, for leading me into this exciting new adventure.

 

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25)

 

 

 

There Is Room in the Inn!

fence-978138_1280

“There Is Room in the Inn. Hallelujah!”

Our new government has responded to the refugee crisis with a promise to bring in 25,000 people by the end of 2015. Our country is huge; we have room. Still, with our small population, assimilating so many so quickly will be a monumental task.

Complicating the task is “fear.” When this many people from a war-torn region come all at once, they could bring terrorism with them. How can we be sure that ISIS hasn’t embedded a suicide bomber among these 25,000 desperate people? Of course, we can’t be certain. Our government security people will do their best, but there are no guarantees.

A friend answered this fear with, “What makes any one of us think that terrorists are not already here? Just because your neighbor looks Anglo-Saxon, or says he’s a Christian, or was born in Canada, he or she could still be a terrorist. We have had a perfect demonstration of that reality right here in our city. The Peterborough Mosque, the place of worship for our city’s Muslims, was set afire by one among us. That person committed an act of “overt terrorism.” What other name can we give it?

I celebrate the fact that most of us are setting aside the fear that breeds violence, hatred, prejudice. I celebrate the fact that we have the courage to open our hearts to so many desperate people. I believe that God is celebrating with us. As individuals, as a nation and as the world, we are reaching out in love. As you prepare for Christmas this year, know that there is room in Canada’s inn. Thanks be to God.

“And Mary brought forth her first born son, wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

 

 

We Can’t Let Fear Overwhelm Us!

 

Let's Give Our World a Vigorous Scrub
God Give Our World a Vigorous Scrub. God says, “Good idea. I’ll start with you.”

 

On Remembrance Day 2015, we stepped beyond past memories to the immediacy of war’s devastation in today’s world.  We are increasingly aware of civilian casualties. The devastation in France last Friday brought this home to all of us. Our TV and computer screens reveal waves of desperate refugees trying to cross national boundaries to safety. While we observed two minutes’ silence,for the chaos of past wars,  churches of every denomination, individuals and community groups around the world were reaching out to embrace these refugee families. In their homelands, mass graves for civilians are common, the wounded overwhelm the hospitals, and homelessness has touched everyone. The United Churches of Shining Waters Presbytery have just welcomed a Syrian Refugee family to Peterborough. The fire in our local Mosque, considered a hate crime by police made the pain and misery of war step out of faraway places and into our community. I am glad God is calling Canadians to do more than lament the hatred and violence. We are taking action.

I believe that every time we step past our fear and reach out with love, we add another piece to the jigsaw puzzle of peace in this world. Each family we receive is one less family left vulnerable to those who teach hatred and violence. Hunger and hopelessness are fertile grounds for recruiting suicide bombers. I am grateful that many in the world are responding to this refugee crisis with love. Maybe participating in our Remembrance Day rituals over the years has incited individuals in Canada to respond. We don’t want to forget the people of the past or the present. All are God’s cherished children.

Years ago, Walter Farquharson and Ron Klusmeier collaborated on this children’s song that I offer you with Ron’s permission:

I SAT IN THE TUB

I sat in the tub till I looked like a prune.  My mother told me to get out soon,but I love to sit in the tub and think. I like to float and I like to sink!

REFRAIN:

I prayed to God from right there in the tub, to give this whole world a vigorous scrub, to clean away what does not belong, to get busy right now and fix what’s wrong!

I thought about children that I did not know, who never play and who just don’t grow. They haven’t food or a place on this earth, no one who knows just how much they’re worth. (R)

I wondered why God let them suffer like that, why all of their enemies aren’t laid out flat, and I thought that all things could be more fair, if the rest of the world could just learn how to share. (R)

And then I heard God’s voice way down inside. The voice spoke to me and I almost died! It said, “The idea’s right! — I’ll start with you. You’ll be surprised at what caring can do!”

 

 

Yes We Can!!! #refugees

Refugees are waiting.
Refugees are waiting.

Our news media are alive with the global refugee crisis. Words, pictures, video clips flash before us whether or not we want to see them. This flood of desperate people, caught between violent, oppressive government and ISIS, have little choice. If they stay, they will be raped physically and emotionally every day, if not murdered in the streets. They are risking their lives in desperately overcrowded boats, trucks, whatever as they cling to the glimmer of hope that a normal life, a new life can be gained in a new country.

A few weeks ago, we were waiting for the European countries to forget their economic woes and do something for these desperate people. At present, there is no unified plan to help. As wave upon wave of refugees pour into neighbouring countries, we have gradually realized that Canada might have a role to play. We have waited for our government to open the floodgates and help these people. Today, we can wait no longer. Yes, it’s Europe’s job; yes it’s Canada’s job; and YES, IT’S OUR JOB. It’s time for us as individuals to pick up the responsibility and do what we can.

We cannot sit in our peaceful, abundant world and do nothing as the bodies of children, whole families are washed up on the shores of far-off countries. The time for standing by and waiting for someone else to do something is over. A few groups of Canadians are stepping out here and there across our country. Becoming a sponsoring group is not easy. Our government is not smoothing the way, but still some of us are responding. We need more, many, many more.

Today, I challenge myself and you. Let’s look at our community. Is there a sponsoring group set up already? Check out what is needed by them. Find the place where you can help. If there is none, than open your heart to God and gather a few friends to push for action from your group, your local hockey association, church group or your entire small community. Someone needs to take leadership. Maybe that person is you.

As Canadians, what we have done in the past for refugees need not determine our response today. People are desperate and dying today. This is our opportunity to live our faith.

Jesus was once a refugee. “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matt. 2:13)

 

Angels Are Waiting!

Refugee Camp
Refugee Camp

I love to listen to CBC radio when I’m driving. One Sunday not long ago, Cross Country check-up asked Canadians their opinions on accepting refugees from Syria. An hour before, I had listened to a special news report on the ethical and moral problems faced by peaceful countries like Canada as they consider how to help the wave upon wave of refugees coming out of war torn countries like Syria. I was reminded of the boat people after the Viet Nam war. The 1200 refugees that Canada has promised to receive this time seems just a drop in this ocean of desperate people. Can we do better? Should we do better?

Callers expressed views on both sides of this issue. One phone call, from a former Viet Nam boat person touched my heart. She spoke of her gratitude to her adopted country. She talked of her willingness to work at any job when she arrived. She stated that her children had become highly educated valuable Canadian citizens. She said with pride, “Our country can take many more than 1200.”

Yes, we have fears, fears centering around employment. We believe there aren’t enough jobs for our own people. Yet, last year Canada employed 300,000 people on temporary work permits. There are jobs for refugees in Canada. We need to remember that most of our ancestors were immigrants and refugees. Without them, we would not have been born here

We are called to share our blessings. To sponsor a refugee is work. It requires fundraising to set up a family in this country and care for them until they have become acclimatized and learned the language. And that is only one part of the commitment. Refugee families need support such as friendship, teaching, loving for at least a year and often longer. But there are groups – like churches who are doing it.

Canadians who have been sponsors in the past know that bringing refugees to our country can be wonderful, difficult, fun, and frustrating and always a learning experience. WE KNOW WE CAN DO IT, IF WE CHOOSE.

Keep on loving one another as Christians. Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it. (Hebrew’s 13:1-2)

Can You Make A Difference

Can You Make A Difference?

by Janet Stobie

Refugee Camp
Refugee Camp

The news is full of misery. Because millions of people are displaced by the Syrian chaos, the United Nations is asking free nations to commit to accepting refugees, not by the tens and twenties, but by the thousands. Our world is on a direct path to destruction, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Or is there?

Stone Soup

The last few weeks, I have been reading “Stone Soup for the World.” This book is a collection of stories about people, individuals who have stepped beyond the paralysis, the hopelessness of seeing the need of the entire world. For me, reading these stories is my first step in believing I can make a difference. Each day for a few minutes, my mind is focused on hope.

Two weeks ago, I was at North Bramalea United Church for the United Church’s Toronto Conference Annual Meeting. While talking with church members, I learned about the community program Bramalea United runs for children and adults in one of the nearby neighbourhoods. A colleague from Midland spoke of her congregation’s record of welcoming and settling refugees. “We’re only about four weeks away from getting yet another family,” she said, her face radiating delight and excitement. Their words and emotions took me beyond reading about others who are transforming our world, to seeing the possibilities and joy that come with taking action.

Some assure us that simply thinking positive things will draw good things into our lives. I know it takes more than that. I know also that filling my mind with stories of hope will open my heart to see hope in action and eventually lead to seeing my own action or lack of it.

A song says, “Go make a difference. We can make a difference in the world.” I want this song to be my mantra. I truly believe that we, together with God, can transform the world, one step at a time.

Together we create peace.
Together we create peace.

This week read Jonah’s story in the Old Testament. Jonah reluctantly brought God’s message to the people of Nineveh, and surprise! The Ninevites were transformed. Jonah made a difference.