Dear Friends in Christ:
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to experience how events beyond our control can radically change our everyday lives. Each of us has now learned this to a varying degree, but few of us have had the traumatic experience of being forced from our homeland. That experience is one that all refugees face. According to statistics from the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), there are over 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, with one person being forcibly displaced from their home every two seconds. About 37% of these are refugees. Half of them are children. In the face of fear and uncertainty, refugees show enormous resilience and courage as they seek to rebuild their lives in a strange new land.
Here in the Diocese of Toronto, we sponsor refugees through the work of our ministry partner, the Anglican-United Refugee Alliance (AURA). Last year, AURA worked with Anglican parishes to welcome 82 sponsored refugees from 11 different countries to our Diocese. I know from first-hand experience that resettlement is not only a gift to the refugees and their families, but perhaps even more so a blessing to the sponsors and parishes that welcome them.
Despite the restrictions at Canada’s borders, refugee sponsorship continues in part through the active support of families already here and their sponsors, as well as through those preparing for future cases. AURA is always looking for parishes that want to get involved in refugee work, as well as for those Anglicans who wish to support their life-saving ministry.
This Saturday, June 20, is the UN’s World Refugee Day. Please pray for refugees around the world and the agencies that support them. If you are interested in sponsorship, please visit AURA’s website. They have some wonderful activities planned for World Refugee Day. You too can help continue in supporting the essential work of welcoming the stranger, as we would welcome Christ. (Matthew 25:35)
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto