It's time to get on your bike!

Yes, it’s that time of year again!

Ride for Refuge – 29 September, 2018 Fort Langley
 

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The Ride for Refuge takes place all across Canada the last Saturday in September. Hundreds of organizations that assist Refugees and Refugee Claimants ride bicycles and walk to raise awareness and support.  

Inasmuch will be building a team and asking others to pull a team together to raise money to support our work.  This will be our fourth year participating and it’s a whole ton of fun!

You can sign up to join us here: Ride for Refuge

Home, hope and happiness

We know it’s a cliché, but life at inasmuch can really be a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s sometimes hard to put into words how it feels to watch our family members come from places of fear into a place of hope. 

We cannot take their pain away, but we can walk a small part of their journeys with them. 

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And sometimes, like one of those beautiful Fraser Valley skies - when the sun shines through storm clouds - we see them begin to build a bright future in Canada.

So it is with our last three couples.

All had experienced severe trauma as they were in flight for their lives before arriving, but the peace, Christian love and fellowship of inasmuch has been a great healer. Over the last seven months, the couples from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ethiopia have blended well into a new family, growing to love and respect each other.

All attended Northview Community Church with us every Sunday, as well as biweekly small church meetings at the house. Those from the church that came alongside them opened their hearts to the love of Christ and brought a deep peace to their lives.  

But now it’s time for them to move on.

Hugs of welcome and hugs goodbye.

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Over the last two weeks all the family members have moved out and on to begin their new lives in Canada. The pain of leaving children behind in their home countries goes with them, but they are slowly beginning to settle.

The two from Ethiopia are both working and have found a wonderful apartment in Abbotsford – and will see their first baby arrive in July. It’s always such a joy to welcome babies at inasmuch, because it really does help everyone focus on the future.

We waved the couple from Afghanistan goodbye at Vancouver airport last week as they head to join family in Toronto. And the other couple have also moved to a lovely suite in Abbotsford.

It’s a bit like when children leave home. They take a piece of our hearts with them, but we long for them to fly. 

And thanks to the amazing work of the team at inasmuch we know they will fly.

Language, learning and love

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Our heart and purpose is to prepare inasmuch family members to integrate into Canadian culture and society.  

A solid foundation of English training focused on Canadian culture and integration continues to be provided by our skilled and loving Angela Belcham and two other volunteers, as well as the wonderful ESL classes provided by Seven Oaks Alliance Church.  

We have also partnered with VanCity Abbotsford who have conducted workshops for current and former family members at inasmuch house to deliver financial training to help them navigate the Canadian banking system and financial planning.

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When you think about inasmuch, we ask that you pray for the family members. 

You may not know their names, or their stories, or their hopes and dreams, but we ask you to pray anyway. The peace that comes to them knowing that folks around Abbotsford, Canada, and across the world have them in their prayers is immense. 

Thank you always for your support - it means so much to us all.

Stories of hope in tough times

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There's not a day goes by without the news of troubles and terrorism across the world. It's easy to forget that there are individual stories and tragedies that are changing the lives of people forever.

At inasmuch we see right into the heart of those very personal stories and it's often impossible to find the right words to say.

Take two of our couples at inasmuch right now. They've fled their homes in Iraq and Afghanistan because of very clear and definite threats to their lives. Imagine for a moment how it must be to run halfway across the globe in fear for your life - but have to leave your children behind.

And if that wasn't bad enough, imagine how it feels when you've found a place of safety to have your refugee claim hearing postponed indefinitely. It's like trauma upon trauma.

Yet these are the realities we deal with every day at inasmuch.
 
But despite the tough days, where we feel helpless and powerless to comfort those in real pain and suffering immense loss, we have hope.  And it's that hope that lets us walk alongside out family members.

Simple words that mean so much.

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Recently we received a letter from a couple that have been at inasmuch for a few months. It was written in Farsi and translated for us.  We wanted to share this extract so you can see how your support makes a very real difference to refugee claimants when they first come to Canada.

"From the very beginning moments Mrs. Dawn-Lynn and Mr. Peter approached and treated us in a way that we really felt like God has sent us angels to help us cope easier with our many hardships and difficulties we have been facing over the past several months. We have been experiencing a very warm welcome. 

"There has been lots of humanitarian, emotional, and financial support from Inasmuch.  In here we are four families each from different backgrounds and nationalities who live happily together like a single family.  We are very grateful to Mr. Peter and his wife Mrs. Dawn-Lynn and their friends for their support.  Their good behavior and support helped us cope easier with homesickness, trauma, and separation from our children. 

"We hope that in the future in return of all care and support that Canada provided us, we try our best to contribute in our community in this beautiful country.”

 
These words touched our hearts. We are so grateful for who God brings to inasmuch.

Canada’s new wave of asylum seekers

It has been three years since we moved into Inasmuch and there have been 34 people who have lived in the house. We've shared in the lives of people from 11 nationalities, but the need continues to increase dramatically.  

We have been attending meetings in Vancouver with the 22 agencies who provide shelter and assistance to refugee claimants (asylum seekers).  In the past two years there has been a 200% increase in asylum seekers in the Lower Mainland which is overwhelming all services. 

Inasmuch is a part of a planning and response forum that will take place with government and service providers in early May.  If you have a few minutes, click on the link below and you will be amazed at the situation being faced here in Canada. 

http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/TRUMP-EFFECT-CANADA-IMMIGRATION/0100617F2J1/index.html

Family Update!

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There's been so much happening at the house since our last newsletter. Here are some highlights...

Our young Ethiopian couple are doing well. He's got a job at a local manufacturing company and she is working at the local Christian bookshop and coffeehouse. Their English is excellent and they're planning on moving to their own apartment in the next month. It's been a joy to have them with us.

The couple from Afghanistan are doing well, despite the pain of being away from their children. He had no English when he arrived but is now able to have simple conversations. She is working as a support assistant at a local school - where all the children love her!

Our Iraqi couple are also doing well - both of them have undergone training and background checks to enable them to work with adults with learning difficulties at a local organization. They too are finding it incredibly difficult to be separated from their children back home in Iraq.
 

Introducing Tammy...

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Hi, I’m Tammy and I had the privilege of joining the Inasmuch team at the end of October as a part-time Administrator. I can’t say enough how excited I am to be serving alongside Dawn-Lynn and Peter.
 
My family and I received Sponsorship to move to Canada from South Africa in 1990 and although we didn’t face the same difficulties as a Refugee Claimant or Asylum Seeker, we completely understand the stress and challenge of resettlement. That’s why I’m especially passionate about working in this particular area.
 
One of the most important elements in a successful resettlement is a sense of community and belonging and that’s exactly what I felt when I visited with the Inasmuch family for the first time – a tangible, authentic, deep sense of belonging and connectedness.

Inasmuch doesn’t just provide shelter and services for Refugee families, it provides a warm, welcoming home where family members are loved and cherished. That’s what makes this organization so special!
 
This is a vibrant, diverse family of resilient men and women who have faced the kind of tragedies most of us will only ever read about. It’s a very humbling experience to walk through the Refugee Claimant process with them and I am truly thankful that I get to be a part of this chapter in their lives - to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are hurting and have had their worlds broken apart.
 
I love being a part of whatever we can to help them rebuild and thrive in their new country… it’s a privilege and a blessing.

Bringing hope at Christmas

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With all the media coverage about refugees crossing illegally into Canada, it’s all too easy to forget that these people are literally running for their lives – taking risks by crossing continents to find safety in a county that will listen to their story.
 
But each and every one of them has a history of what life was like before they fled. And each one of them wants a future for themselves and their families of safety, peace and a meaningful life.
 
That’s where inasmuch makes a difference. And that’s why we need your continued support – especially at Christmas time.

Moving out and moving on! Hope in action.

It would be very easy to let the traumatic stories of family members overwhelm us. But their pasts don’t define who they are, and as the Bible says in Hebrews 6: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” And that’s so evident in the stories of the folks who’ve moved out from inasmuch recently.

Our Kurdish/Iranian couple were at inasmuch almost 8 months.  It was so neat to be able to celebrate with them when he secured a position as an IT Systems Administrator at a local high tech company.  With a secure job and a brilliant future ahead of them, they moved into their own two-bedroom apartment in late October.  They have a modest, cozy home thanks to the wonderful donations of good, quality furniture.  

Our 64-year-old Kurdish couple, also at inasmuch for 8 months, are grabbing their new life in Canada with both hands!  He’s working as a forklift operator at a local manufacturer and they’ve also moved to their own apartment. They were incredibly touched by the donations they received for their first home in Canada.  

During their move he shared: “no one has ever helped and loved us the way you Christians have.”

Much of the success for both of these couples, and all previous family members, is the focused English teaching by Dr. Angela. We are so thankful for her!

Tough stories, told through tears

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We don’t ask family members their stories. They are often too painful and too traumatic to talk about - especially when the folks are new to the country, new to inasmuch and still learning to trust.
 
But as family members start to settle, we get a glimpse into their lives.
 
Just this month we received a couple in their late 40s, both physicians from Iraq/Kurdistan.   He is an orthopedic surgeon and worked for several months at a battlefield hospital north of Mosul with an American Christian organization. All we know about their journey is that they received death threats because the husband had accepted Jesus. 
 
We can only imagine how it must feel to leave their three young children behind, while they pursue safety for their family.

Also joining the family this month is a couple from Afghanistan.  They have little English but were able to communicate that they too fled in fear for their lives. 

We have former Farsi-speaking family members returning to the house to help this new couple with interpretation and settling into our home.

And finally we welcomed a young couple from Ethiopia.  They are the sweetest people – with smiles that light up a room! Among the few possessions they brought with them was an Amharic Bible.  On the first evening together he started sharing their story of why they had to flee, but broke down in the telling.
 
It’s tough to see such trauma.
 
But even through these huge transitions in their lives, there is hope. All three couples have started coming to church with us on Sunday mornings.  Two have begun attending an ESL Alpha Bible study at a local church.
 
They all have a long process before them. Refugee Protection hearings are now on a 5-6 month timeline due to three times the amount of asylum seekers arriving in Canada this year.

Get the cake(s)!

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“Get the cake!” is the text we send when our family members get refugee protection at their hearings. 

It means one of us runs to the grocery store to pick up a celebration cake so it’s waiting at inasmuch when they return home from their hearing.

And we got to send that text twice in the past week!

You may recall that back in June we asked for prayer for the two couples at inasmuch. Their scheduled hearings were both postponed leaving them with tremendous stress and fear levels.  

But the Lord answered those prayers in wonderful ways this past week. 

Last Monday, the young Kurdish/Iranian couple faced very thorough questioning from the Member of the Refugee Protection Division over two separate days.  Peter was in the hearings as an observer, and during the intense questioning, the young Iranian woman turned to Peter and whispered: “please pray.”  And pray we all did.

Following their lawyer’s wonderful hour-long case summary of their case and a 2 ½ hour recess the Member returned with her decision.  The wait was tough, but the decision was great!  She deemed them to be convention refugees and allowed them to stay in Canada with full refugee protection.  Such tears of relief!

Dawn-Lynn was the first person they wanted to call as we left the hearing room and the celebrations began.

The hearing last Thursday for the 64-year-old Kurdish couple was much shorter. 

The Member questioned the husband for an hour about the reasons they had to flee and then turned to his wife and asked her what she thought. 

She immediately broke into tears explaining how they had left behind children, grandchildren, their home and everything familiar to run to Canada in fear for their lives.  The Member asked for a short recess and returned with a positive decision. 

Again Dawn-Lynn was the first person they wanted to call when they left the hearing room.  The celebrations began again.

Two cakes in one week. What an answer to prayer and what an immense relief for the two couples!

So what’s next as they begin to integrate further in Canada? Both couples now have their work permits and the older Kurdish man has already started work in the shipping department at a local Abbotsford company.  They all continue English classes with our Dr. Angela, with resume and cover letter creation at the top of their lists. 

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Family Celebration!  To round out this rollercoaster of a week, on Saturday we had a huge picnic at Hayward Lake, BC to celebrate both of these couples being free to stay in Canada.  Many former inasmuch family members joined us to celebrate with them – and enjoy picnic tables groaning under the weight of food, kayaking, swimming, soccer and so much laughter.

It is a true family that is created in the Christ-centered environment at inasmuch.


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We could use your help!

In the next month or so both couples will be transitioning out of inasmuch to apartments or suites and there are many needs to help get them started. 

If you can help in any way with the following for two couples:

  • Household furnishings in good condition
  • Kitchen utensils, pots and pans etc
  • Linens and towels

At inasmuch we want to send the beds family members have been sleeping on with them when they go and acquire new beds for the next arrivals. 

Therefore, we want to raise $1,200 to purchase two new queen beds. If you can help with this, please go to the donate page on our website.


The Ride for Refuge is Saturday, 30 September, 2017

We’re assembling a team to raise funds.  In addition to our own team, we have a couple of teams with us now from Trinity Western University and two teams our board members are putting together. 

Please consider sponsoring, or even riding yourself, to help us. 

The Ride for Refuge is North America wide and there are hundreds of organizations that work with refugees raising funds for their work.

You can sponsor us here: https://rideforrefuge.org/charity/inasmuch 


Thank you! 

We have been blessed so much by the volunteers who have come alongside us on a steady basis at the house, plus the great drivers who have taken our folks in and out of Vancouver for Canadian Border Services reporting. 

And finally, Labour Day weekend is local missions weekend at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford.  We will be speaking at all services that weekend and would love to see you there.

 

Six new family members. And an invitation...

In our last newsletter we spoke of transitions.  There is no way we could have imagined who God was going to bring us next, but as always, He brought the people into inasmuch that we had been praying for.

We went to a meeting, but came home with family members

 
Although we’d planned a two week break before opening the house to new people, God had other plans.  

At the end of the first week of the break, we were at a meeting at the Inland Refugee Society in Vancouver.  The reception area was filled with more than 30 asylum seekers who were part of the recent influx of people crossing the border. They had just arrived and had no accommodation. 
 
Knowing we had room, we asked about a young couple we saw sitting in the corner.  We approached them and asked if they wanted to come home with us.  With a combination of fear and appreciation in their eyes they accepted.  And so we drove home with two precious people - an Iranian woman and her Kurdish husband. 
 

Different ages, different countries

 
Two weeks later we received a 64 year old Kurdish couple.  Can you imagine being almost retired and having to flee for your life?  They’ve been through so much but they have such gentle spirits.
 
And then, just before Easter we received a call from the Inland Refugee Society asking if we could take in a Palestinian mother and her 12 year old daughter.   Our family members have always been older, so to have someone so young has been wonderful.  We have been able to get her enrolled in middle school, and thanks to one of the optical stores in Abbotsford she has brand new glasses.
 

Fear, family and friendship


With all of these dear, new family members, fear is the common denominator.  When you hear their stories, your heart breaks.  We’re therefore very thankful that Northview Community Church has partnered with us to provide trauma counseling where needed.
 
To be honest, we were concerned about the combination of Middle Eastern countries now under the inasmuch roof.   Four days after the Palestinian mom and daughter arrived, we returned from a day in Vancouver to the sound of laughter, the smell of popcorn and the joy of cards being played.

Our short-sighted concerns evaporated. Christ knew our needs.
 

Easter dinner and the power of God’s Word.

 
We had 17 for Easter dinner, giving us the opportunity to share the true essence of Easter, the scripture describing it, and the hope we have as Christians.  When we explained that it wasn’t all about chocolate bunnies and eggs it spurred a lot of discussion.  Daily we write a new scripture on the whiteboard in the common area, and it too invariably brings interest and questions. 
 
It gives our family members hope as they also know that we are praying earnestly for them.  The young Kurdish man had never heard the name of Jesus and loves talking about Him.  He has downloaded the Kurdish-Surani translation of the Bible into his computer.
 
It’s a wonderful thing to watch as enquiring minds search for answers.


You’re invited!

 
We’re hosting an Open House at inasmuch on Saturday June 11 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.  

Come and see what God is doing! We’d love to meet you and there’ll be a snack lunch and tours too.


Ride for Refuge

Saturday 30 September

The Ride for Refuge is a North America wide event where organizations that work with refugees raise funds through a sponsored bike ride. 

Inasmuch has taken part in the ride for the last two years to raise funds for support of the work at the house. We had 20 team members last year with half being former inasmuch family members.  We even had a 90 year-old pushing a walker for 5 km as well as cyclists who completed a full 50km.

Please join our team as a rider or walker for this year’s Ride for Refuge.  The distances vary from 5km to 50 km.  Last year we raised $3,000 and this year the goal is $5,000. 

We also need a couple of team captains who can raise up riders and sponsors.

More information will be available mid-June and we’ll let you know more then!


Big changes at inasmuch

They say there’s nothing so constant in life as change – and that’s certainly true here at inasmuch!
 
In fact, we’re going to be experiencing more transition on one day during the first week of March than we’ve experienced in the whole two years since we began inasmuch house. 
 
We’re helping several of our family members begin their first steps towards independence and their new lives in Canada.  And best of all, these changes are happening because God has opened wonderful opportunities for them.
 

Update on family members

 
Our Burundian mom and her precious one-year-old twins are moving into a beautiful two-bedroom suite close to inasmuch.  She has a job two days a week and has also secured child care for the twins for those days.  Please pray for the timely processing of her Permanent Residence and Family Reunification application which will allow her husband and two other children to move to Canada.
 
One of our Kurdish young women has secured employment and moved into a bright lower level suite in Abbotsford.  The second Kurdish woman has also found rewarding work and will be moving into an apartment close to inasmuch at the beginning of March.
 
These folks join a growing list of individual successes that has been the hallmark of family members living at inasmuch.  They have entered Canadian society well equipped to begin a new life.  In typically six to eight months, English language, Canadian culture and relationship building skills have been learned to empower these great people who arrived as refugee claimants full of fear and uncertainty, to become contributing members of our community.

Good news just before Christmas!

Yes, it’s really special to be able to update you on some great news and answers to prayer this close to Christmas.

In the last couple of weeks these wonderful things have happened:

  • One of the Kurdish women with us was granted refugee protection.  She is now full of hope and looking to the future. 
  • Our Burundian mother of twins met with a lawyer at MOSAIC in Vancouver back in November to see what could be done to speed up her Permanent Residency application to bring her husband and two children to Canada.  Just a few days ago she received a letter from CIC (Citizenship & Immigration Canada) that her family reunification is being expedited!
  • Another young Kurdish woman with us has begun working as an Arabic interpreter for Community Services working with Syrian refugees in Abbotsford.  She has also begun looking for her own place to rent and moving on - creating an opening in the house.
  • One of Inasmuch’s earliest family members was offered an entry level accounting position at one of Canada’s top accountancy firms in Langley. He had wonderful coaching preparation from some of the volunteers here at inasmuch. He also received a letter from CIC that his Permanent Residence meeting will be on 9 January.
  • We are half way to our goal of $3,000/month of committed monthly support to cover operational costs of the house for our refugee claimant family.  We are so grateful for everyone who comes alongside us in this way. It makes a huge difference.

It’s not easy in the rush and craziness of the festive season to stop and be thankful for so many things. But at inasmuch we are so grateful for the incredible journey that 2016 has been. 

When you listen to Handel’s Messiah – which is a bit of a tradition here at inasmuch – and hear the words: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given… and he’ll be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” it’s impossible not to contrast it with the daily news of tragedy and turmoil in the world. The people that come to inasmuch are fleeing that turmoil and are in fear for their lives. 

This Christmas our prayer is that, along with our refugee claimant family and everyone here at inasmuch, you will experience the wonderful peace of Christ. 
 
Blessings this Christmas!

December 2016 update

   The Gift of the Light to the World:  The true light that gives light to every man has come into the world. John 1:9

The Gift of the Light to the World: The true light that gives light to every man has come into the world. John 1:9

With every new refugee claimant that comes to inasmuch there is a cloud of darkness from fear, trauma, uncertainty, separation from family, and loneliness. Our hearts are always moved by their stories, but thanks to Jesus Christ, the Light of the World who is at the centre of inasmuch house, these clouds are dispersed in an atmosphere of caring, acceptance, security and hope. Laughter and fellowship seem to be contagious in the house.

We are so very thankful to those who volunteer, pray, and donate to specific and operational needs. This support has made a wonderful impact on nine adult and twin babies that have passed through or are still in process in the house this past year. 

The Canadian Council for Refugees anticipates the refugee crisis will only worsen this coming year and we want to be ready to respond. We would encourage you to donate generously to Inasmuch Community Society this Christmas season on a one-time or monthly basis. 

Donations have already made and will continue to make a huge difference to the lives of our family members. For example, we recently received a complete library of graded readers from Pearson Longman Publishing. This has enabled family members to read at their existing ESL level, build their confidence and fluency, as well as entertain them! 

So this busy Christmas season, we’d ask you to please consider the following opportunities for supporting us:

  • Inasmuch has operational expenses of approximately $3,000/month. No salaries or wages are paid from this – so a monthly donation of $50 is a huge help.
  • One of our family members from Kurdistan will be moving out in January and we would love to provide her with a new single bed and bedding – this will cost around $350.
  • Many refugee claimants arrive with qualifications and skills to work, but no formal English Language qualifications. This means they are unable to join their profession or study further. We want to offer an International English Language Testing (IELTS) Exam Scholarship to a family member deemed ready at a cost of $350. This pays for the cost of the exam, study supplies and transit costs for the day of the exam.
  • We have the possibility of purchasing refurbished laptop computers to be used for language training. This would enable family members to do more individual online language study and exam practice. $175 buys one laptop.
  • Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference - $10 pays for a welcome pack of toiletries for a new family member, $15 provides a complete set of study materials for one student and $20 gives a family member a warm toque and scarf.
  • We know that there are many demands on your pocketbook at this time of year, but we would ask that you’d think about this growing family of people who taken the brave decision to leave their homeland for safety in Canada. 

To donate, cheques can be made out to Inasmuch Community Society and mailed to PO Box 15041, Seven Oaks PO, Abbotsford, BC, V2S 8P1

or you can donate online right by clicking here