With refugees continuing to be in the news, is there a way the church can respond?
One example of a church that saw this as an opportunity is Trinity United Reformed in St. Catherines, ON. A Pastor in the congregation, Thabet Megaly, who leads a ministry called Pathway of Peace, worked in conjunction with the evangelism committee at Trinity URC to open the church’s doors each Friday evening to invite immigrants, refugees, and international students to come for coffee, snacks, and conversation.
Pastor Megaly described the motivation behind this effort, which launched in mid-2016, “to proclaim the Word of God to those who don’t know about our true God and about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” He continued,
“We want to show them the love of Christ and we love them because Jesus commands us to do so.”
The evangelism committee and Pastor Megaly have been pleased with the result. People who have come regularly to this ‘Fellowship Café’ have also attended Christianity Explored. According to Greg Ormel from the church’s evangelism committee, those who attend represent a United Nations of people from Middle Eastern countries.
A typical Friday evening includes sitting down to drinks and snacks. Round tables in the church fellowship hall provide opportunities for small group conversation. Each guest is greeted, and conversation ensues. For some, English is an obstacle, but Pastor Megaly is able to translate since he speaks fluent Arabic, as does his wife, Wafaa.
There is a topic each Friday night to spur conversation. The initial topics chosen were designed to bridge the gap between different cultures. As the group has developed, the topics have expanded to go a little deeper. Examples of topics: “What are you thankful for and what does it mean to be thankful?”; “Where does peace come from and where does war come from?”; and “What does love mean to you?”
A typical evening lasts one and a half to two hours. Through these evenings, people are experiencing the love of Christ and are having an opportunity to hear the gospel in the context of relationship. The church has seen evidence of real life change among people who are coming.
[adapted with permission from Christian Renewal magazine, January 18, 2017]