Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Charity Begins...Everywhere

On Monday there was a message on the Bridge St UC phone which was really a rant about our sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family. The person didn't leave a name, although call display is a helpful coward-detector. He blustered about how outrageous it was that we were helping these people when there are so many needs close at hand. He promised that he wouldn't come to the church for events anymore, which was the one upside of the call.

What is so laughable about this diatribe is that Bridge St. provides more than 7,000 meals a year to local people, many of them living within walking distance of the church. These folk tell us that Inn From the Cold and Thank God It's Friday are Godsends. The other two sponsoring congregations, St. Matthew's and Eastminster, also have food ministries.

In the past couple of weeks I have provided hundreds of dollars in support to two single parents struggling to pay the rent, along with smaller amounts of assistance to others. Our White Gift offering supported a local Christmas sharing program. This is all possible through the generosity of our members and a host of people in the community who like what we're doing.

I would have loved to ask this individual what he does for his neighbours. So often the "charity begins at home" huffers and puffers are just that, a lot of wind and not much action. I deeply appreciate that this congregation doesn't approach kindness and hospitality as an either/or. The neighbours Christ calls us to serve may live a block away, or in a camp in Syria. And now one of those Syrian families lives close at hand.



roger said...

I feel that people like the one who left that message have such bitterness in their hearts, that they are probably not the kind of people who would do much for "our own" anyway.

Besides, at what point can you EVER say that "now that everyone has been taken care of in our own country, we can now help those abroad"?

I spoke recently with an older person who was strongly against bringing in Syrian refugees. I asked him why should they have to suffer because they had the misfortune of living in a land that is not nearly as peaceful as ours. As to his concerns about bringing in "terrorists", yes, we do need to vet and screen as much as we can, but it is not likely a family with children are going to pose any terrorist threat. I think we have much more to worry about with "homegrown" individuals who are becoming radicalized to violence.

I also think back to my high school days, and one of my best friends was one of the Vietnamese who came to our country by boat. The term used back then - and I always hated it - was "boat people". Ken was a fantastic friend and all round great guy, and I was glad to have him here.

David Mundy said...

Thanks Roger. It is interesting that military leaders, the RCMP, and former immigration officials don't have significant issues with this influx of refugees. Your point about not ever being able to say that everyone has been taken care of in our own country is well taken. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the naysayers don't have much use for aboriginal peoples, who really do need our support and care.

You're one of several people who recall going to school with Vietnamese immigrant kids. It's heartwarming that some of them are now sponsoring Syrians.

Frank said...

We need to provide sanctuary from violence.
Yes, we have local poverty issues that require ongoing help and resources. Refugees, quite frequently, need sanctuary from violent circumstances that lie beyond our imagination, and respite from the squalor and hopelessness of camps in neighbouring countries.
I agree that these issues are not mutually exclusive. We need to do as much as we can in the different areas that we can.