By Colleen Howat, a member of The Peoples Church in Toronto, and one of the leaders of Friendship Class.
It was a sunny, crisp fall day in October.
Perfect for our walk.
One that we’ve been talking about for a few weeks in Friendship Class (a special place for differently-abled adults to worship God together).
Pointing out these countries on a large globe helped us to see how far some people have had to come in order to find peace and safety. Many had to leave their homes and families and friends and jobs due to war, persecution and more.
Our friends were deeply impacted to learn of these people’s struggles; one woman couldn’t wait to ask God for special protection and food for the children. And then when our friends in class heard that we could help them out by walking and raising money too, that’s what we did! We called family, neighbours and friends to ask for their support. And they did so generously!!
The Walk for Refuge day was here! Two of our friends came on Wheeltrans. One who uses a walker arrived very early and another was picked up late, so ambled up the hill to catch up with us. Two young men from our class came with their moms. Another young person walked with her sister. All of us graciously walking together, supporting one another’s different capabilities for our adventure.
Once we all gathered, we talked more about why we were doing this… to give hope and peace and a welcoming to a new home for those who had given up everything. Then up Bayview Avenue from Tyndale College to The Peoples House we walked, pausing along the way to view pictures of children in Uganda and families in Malawi. Each time we stopped, we prayed for their safety and provision.
It was beautiful to see and hear the concern our friends had for the people we had been discussing. Perhaps they have a keen sense of the need to belong, how it feels to be left out and misunderstood themselves and their hearts longed to reach out.
Once we arrived at The Peoples House, we were greeted by smiling residents and helpful volunteers. We sang “Never Give Up” (how appropriate!) and thanked God together. We all enjoyed lots of hot dogs and some delicious homemade almond squares!
Our friends said they had so much fun walking and meeting the people who had travelled so far. It was a blessing to see and hear people we’d just met, getting to know one another better over a meal. When it got a little chillier, some of us gathered inside around a large table and continued to share and meet more refugees who live in The Peoples House.
We are so grateful to have been able to join up and connect like this. It felt kind of like family. And families share and care for one another, just like we did!
Our vision is to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. We do this together with the church, both globally, and locally in Canada.