Easter Sunday nine years ago, we received a call from an Abbotsford police officer who knew us from church. He asked if we knew anything that could be done for a mother, father, and fifteen-month old little boy who had crossed the border in the cold rain the night before. They had been picked up by the police, taken to the Huntington border crossing then released by Canadian Border Services with nowhere to go.
Without hesitation we said bring them to our home. We had no idea who they were, or what was meant by “Refugee Claimant”. They lived with us for seven weeks and God revealed His plans for our future.
We learned who Refugee Claimants are, and God placed a vision in Dawn-Lynn’s heart for a “Big House” where we would provide Christ’s love and support to these vulnerable people while they worked through their claim process.
We formed a board, registered inasmuch with the BC Government and later received charitable status from CRA.
We began renting apartments in Abbotsford and housing young men, and in February 2015, God gave us the first “Big House” which was a tear-down, but with 85 volunteers in five weeks, the house was gutted and re-purposed to provide transition housing for refugee claimants.
For the first 3 ½ years we lived in community with 30 of these precious people from the Middle East and Africa. Our fondest memories are of the weekly communal meals around the dining table talking about life and seeing these “family members” laugh with and support one another. We had continuous opportunities to talk with them about why we do what we do, that the love of Jesus compels us. Before their hearings with the Refugee Board, we would pray that God’s peace would cover them during the hearing. Our lives were intertwined with them.
In November of last year, we opened a second “Big House” right behind the first house where we are now housing families for the first time. As with the first house it was a tear-down, but with 80+ volunteers it was gutted and re-purposed for families.
Eighteen months ago we began discussions with our board about transition and succession planning, as we wanted to ensure the continued heart of inasmuch would thrive and grow beyond us. For nine years we have put everything we have into this little ministry, and God has blessed us with wonderful Godly people that He has built into a team.
On May 1, the board appointed Richard Belcham as Executive Director of Inasmuch Community Society. Richard served on our board for three years and last fall was hired as our Settlement Worker. Richard’s wife Angela is our Head of ESL and Adult Education.
The team also includes Tammy Johnson, the Housing and Community Engagement Manager, and our newly appointed Settlement Worker, Alissa Cook. Gary & Lori Schmidt are the Host Couple in one house and Lisa Larson is the host in the other. All are passionate about Jesus Christ and inasmuch.
We will continue to be engaged on the relationship level with former family members and with new families as they arrive. Dawn-Lynn is head gardener and a love-deeply-wraparound person. Peter has been appointed President and both of us are there for the team for wisdom if requested.
Thank you and a request
We have been surrounded by support from so many of you in prayer, volunteering, and monthly financial support. When we put out the call for the re-purposing of the houses to Northview Church, Living Waters church, Trinity Western, UFV, and CANIL students we were overwhelmed. When you met the people God has brought into inasmuch you have been moved by their bravery, resilience, and gift they are becoming to Canada.
From our hearts to yours, we ask that you continue this support for this incredible ministry and to those facing trauma and uncertainty.
Inasmuch is growing and we would love you to grow with it.