The refugee crisis continues and churches are being asked to take the lead.
James Grunau, the Executive Director of Journey Home Community Association, says that World Refugee Sunday is a good way for churches to raise awareness of this issue and pray for refugees around the world.
This year, churches can choose to observe World Refugee Sunday on June 16 or 23, as they fall on either side of World Refugee Day on June 20.
Grunau says, "On a local level, we try to encourage our partner churches to give some attention to World Refugee Sunday.
"With the global refugee crisis, only growing - last year's statistic showed 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in our world - we believe the Church needs to take the lead in caring for, reach out to, and coming alongside refugees."
Grunau believes that, of all institutions, the Church is expected to care for the refugee. Grunau says, "This is a Biblical - not only opportunity - but actually, a Biblical injunction to care for and welcome the strangers who come to live among us."
There are tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Canadian cities and Grunau sees this as a chance for the Church to fulfill their Biblical call. "This is an amazing opportunity for the Church to reach out to the nations coming to our doorstep"
Grunau is aware of the apprehension that some people feel about welcoming strangers into our country. Some see refugees as a threat to our cultural comfort and as a stressor on our economy. Grunau says, "I think it is fear. It is really to fear the Other and the person we don't know about - that we don't know personally."
Grunau encourages the Church to overcome that fear: "Jesus encourages us - actually one of the most well-known command in the NT is to 'fear not' - and so, I think when we start to know the newcomers, the refugee and find out that they're just folks like us...we can more easily come alongside and make connections."
For churches who want to be involved in World Refugee Sunday, Grunau suggests, "We encourage churches, at the very least, to even pray for refugees. ...Bring forward some prayer requests and create some awareness in their congregation on World Refugee Sunday."