By Peggi Talbot, Broadway-First Baptist, Winnipeg
On October 15–right after Thanksgiving–at the James Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg, a tired mother and three young men in t-shirts and jeans came down the escalator. Awaiting the travellers was Jean Hatungimana, surrounded by a group from Broadway-First Baptist. He smiled at the sight of his mother and brothers.
After 30 hours spent on four planes coming from a refugee camp in Malawi, Pascasie and her three sons Rama, JP, and Raimond landed in Winnipeg to begin a new life. They were greeted with a traditional African supper at the church by the African community of Broadway-First, and then taken to friends of Jean’s for some much-needed sleep. The church officially welcomed the family on October 20 with a celebration cake. Pascasie and her sons are now settling into their house near the church and close to many services for new immigrants.
Many volunteers from Broadway-First spent the last week getting the family’s accommodations ready, donating furniture and items to equip a house. Clothesline, the used clothing ministry of the church, provided coats and clothing for the family.
“It has been an exciting time for our congregation. It has been exciting and stretching to partner in this sponsorship. It is exciting to be able to play a role in reuniting this family and helping them take their first steps in Canada. And it is stretching to take on the faith, relational and financial challenges that comes with it,” says Joe Welty, Senior Pastor at Broadway-First. “It still amazes me to see our congregation being given the opportunity to respond to some of the big global issues in a tangible way.”
Broadway-First Baptist has been known to help many immigrant communities and families over the years, including families from Laos, Philippines and Africa. Jean, originally from Burundi, came to the church almost 10 years ago through World University Services of Canada (WUSC) from a refugee camp in Malawi. In 2005, Broadway-First helped him sponsor two of his brothers, Rajabu and Pascal. They arrived in 2007 and now live in Edmonton.
Through the years, the church has celebrated with Jean as he became a Canadian citizen, a member of the church and a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with his BA. Now, the church is helping Jean with his mother and 3 more brothers for the next year as they adapt to Canada and a new way of life. We look forward to a very exciting year.
In recent years the church has had an African community worshiping with the congregation and also in their own service. Pastor Joe Welty is working with the African community to support them in their ministry.
Let’s pray for Pascasie, Rama, JP, and Raimond as they adapt to our country, learn the language and make new friends. Pray also for the congregation at Broadway-First as they support this family over the next year.
For more information on refugee sponsorship, contact Rod Olson, the CBWC’s Coordinator for Refugees and Displaced Peoples at firstname.lastname@example.org.