This week’s Muslim Connect celebrates two of my three favorite categories of people: Anabaptists and Muslims. (The third category, of course, is which ever one you fall into!)
The Hutterites are a small, but feisty group of Anabaptists who fled Ukraine to the US and Canada in the 1870’s. They live in communal groups, work as famers and tradesmen and endeavor to be pretty serious about following Jesus.
When Paul Waldner, a Hutterite and teacher in southwestern Manitoba, heard about the Syrian refugee crisis, he thought he should do something. Nervous about how others would feel, he checked in with his dad, the pastor and president of their community. His dad said, “The Hutterites were refugees at one point as well. If it wasn't for people helping them, we wouldn't be here.”
Paul worked with the Mennonite Central Committee to file the proper government paper work to bring a Syrian family to Canada. On February 8, 2016, Reyad Alhamud, his wife and three kids arrived.
Their early nervousness dissipated as they enjoyed the Hutterite hospitality and began to recognize the similarities in the two cultures. A similar dynamic unfolded for Paul and other members of the community. (Read more of their story here.)
This story makes me happy for the Alhamuds, for Paul, for Canada and for Jesus, who I think likes what’s going on up there.
In case you live in the U.S. and are wondering should American Christians sponsor refugees from Syria: Yes we should, but no we can’t. We did have a private sponsorship program under President Reagan, but it was ended in 1996. There have been calls of late to re-establish such a program. If that happened and just 10% of US churches took part, we’d sponsor more than five times the refugees the US took in last year!
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