Winnipeg church focuses on non-Syrian refugees

The Meeting Place, a Winnipeg church, was asked to sponsor a non-Syrian refugee family because many of them have been in the queue for years.

The Meeting Place sponsors Congolese family in refugee camp for 18 years

Pastor John Neufeld of The Meeting Place in Winnipeg says his congregation is excited to be sponsoring a family of Congolese refugees.

Syrian refugees have been grabbing headlines but it wasn't hard for a Winnipeg congregation to choose to sponsor a family from another region, says Pastor John Neufeld of The Meeting Place.

A 20-member team made the decision about three weeks ago, when Syrian refugees were front and centre in the media.

"Many of the refugees from other countries who had been in the queue for a long time were being overlooked. There is no media attention to the fact we have had a refugee crisis of more than 30 years in a good part of Africa," said Neufeld.

After contacting the Mennonite Central Committee, the team realized while requests were pouring in to sponsor Syrian refugees, that wasn't the case for non-Syrian families. MCC told the team there is a long list of non-Syrian refugees who have been waiting in the queue for years, he said. When he was asked whether our church would considered sponsoring one of them, the answer was a resounding yes.

"We are delighted. Truly, we would have been delighted whoever we were able to sponsor. Once we were aware of the fact that there is a category of the overlooked just because of the media spotlight, we were quick and ready to sponsor a non-Syrian family. The team is excited and it is certainly something the church has rallied around," said Neufeld.

The Congolese family consists of a mother and father in their 40s with five children age five to 18 who were all born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, where the family has lived for 18 years.

Neufeld's church is hoping the family, which is still in the refugee camp, will get travel clearance by mid-February, or at the latest, arrive in Winnipeg by the end of March. 


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