Calvary Baptist Church working to bring refugee family to Sioux Lookout
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
A Sioux Lookout church is hoping to raise the funds needed to bring a family at risk of persecution in their current country to Sioux Lookout.
A press release issued by Calvary Baptist Church on May 30 notes that the family of five, currently living in Turkey, are at risk due to their Christian faith, and have been granted United Nations Refugee Status, but in order immigrate to Canada the government requires $45,000 be raised and reserved to assist with the family’s expenses once they arrive in Canada.
Don Jones is Chairman of the Trustee Board for Calvary Baptist Church, as well as a church member. As Jones explains, “This is the first family Calvary Baptist Church has tried to bring over. It was actually brough forward by the head of our denomination, so it came through our church association… We didn’t go out hunting for a family to bring in, it sort of came to us. We decided to consider it, prayed on it, and voted on it… and here we are, going ahead.”
Jones continued, “Because they are in a very vulnerable position, they are certified refugees… by the UN. They’ve been working in Turkey, but the country they escaped from is a very dangerous country, where, if they were sent back by Turkey (and that is possible), they would eventually be jailed and possibly executed. We are being very careful about releasing family details.”
Speaking on the fundraising, Jones noted that, “We are at 50 percent, (of the total required), that’s a current number. We got there fairly quickly, it’s only been two or three weeks. We anticipate another two or three weeks will top that up.” Jones then went on to explain, “The amount we need to raise is specified by the Canadian government. They establish that, for so many adults, so many young people, how much is needed. When refugees come in, they may or may not be able to start generating income for themselves for the first year. So, the government establishes guidelines for a budget. This is so their regular living expenses are covered for one year, one way or the other. When we apply for their immigration, we have to supply proof that we have that money set aside. We have to prove that we will be able to provide housing. We don’t have to have something available right now, but we do have to show that we will be able to provide housing down the road.”
Speaking to how the family is coping, Jones added, “The process takes up two years to bring them in, so they are living in danger every day. But they are managing.”
When asked what prompted the church to try to assist this family, Jones responded, “Well, it’s a Christian reason. We are to help those who are in trouble. They are believers in Jesus Christ and they in effect came to us… we were in communication with their Pastor, and they themselves run a home church and obviously have to be secretive about it. While Turkey is supposed to be free of religious persecution, they are really not friendly to those who come from another country.”
Jones added, “Although this is a church working to bring in this family, people who are not part of the church are invited to contribute.”
Individuals wishing to donate to the effort to bring this family to Sioux Lookout are encouraged to do so, either by cheque or by EMT to [email protected]. People are asked to ensure that all donations are tagged “Refugee sponsorship”
For more information on this initiative people can contact Jones at 807-374-0011.