By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan
Mouner Al Ajji was church planting in Aleppo, Syria, when the war started in 2011. Life was very difficult, and he and his wife eventually applied for refugee status in Canada in 2014.
It was these trying times—and his family’s transition to Canadian life over the past few years—that prepared Mouner for his current ministry: pastoring an Arabic church plant in Calgary with a focus on welcoming both Christian and Muslim newcomers to Canada.
Hope Christian Church of Calgary began their ministry in September of 2017. With support from CBWC Church Planting and Westview Baptist Church, Pastor Mouner and his team are guiding the congregation through the rhythms of worship and mission, table and prayer that church plants have been engaging since the time of the book of Acts.
Mouner explains: “For the year 2018, our them was ‘Times 2.’ The idea was to look at ourselves and what we have and think and believe that according to what we have, we can move and multiply. In 2019, we will focus on putting into practical action Act 2:47: ‘Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.'”
Hope Church has been finding ways to help newcomers settle in. Sometimes the support is practical: furniture, groceries. Other times, it’s explaining Canadian laws and rights. Hope Church had a lawyer come to speak to them about wills and funerals, and a mortgage broker came to speak about credit card use and lending.
And once in a while, settling in means engaging Canadian culture together. Last summer, they “decided to try this crazy camping thing,” as Mouner calls it. Spending a weekend camping at Gull Lake was a new experience for many of people, but an experience they hope to repeat this year.
Looking to the future, Mouner hopes to partner with an English-speaking Sunday school so that the second generation in his congregation will grow up engaged with God’s people and find a long-term home in the church.
Church planting with newcomers to Canada is slow, beautiful, relational work. It’s going to take a while for Hope Church to reach a sustainable equilibrium financially. CBWC Church Planting is committed to supporting this Kingdom-oriented ministry in these early stages of development, and we need help from churches and individuals like you to bolster this work through prayer and faithful financial support.
If you’d like to participate with us, or to learn more about the Church Planting Trust, contact Church Planting Director Shannon Youell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.216.6332.