Can I begin with a story?
It was during the month of Ramadan—when our Muslim residents are fasting during the day and refraining from most external activity—that one of the families invited me to drink tea with them. As we sat and talked about life, the wife asked in broken English if she could tell me her story.
As I listened, she shared with me that two years ago, in her home country, she had watched a video and it had turned her heart toward Jesus. I affirmed her with a gentle smile and looked inquisitively towards her husband. He threw his hands up and said, “Not me! I'm still Muslim."
We talked about what had happened in their home country. He is a moderate man, well educated, and accustomed to living with the tension between modern ways and traditional cultural practices. As such, he was supportive of his wife’s decision. His family, on the other hand, was not. At first, they pressured him to ‘get her in line.’ When he defended her choice, they warned him in a threatening tone that his child would ‘grow up crooked.’ Being a man of action, he made the difficult decision to leave his homeland to spare his family from religious persecution. And so, they came to Canada where they could have a fresh start at life.
They’re now living with us in Surrey, where they’re rebuilding their life in a one-bedroom apartment. Learning English is paramount to the husband as he knows what it takes to get ahead in Canada. I have confidence he'll do it. I have a hunch that in six to nine months, his family will no longer be living with us because they will have graduated and gotten on with the process of rebuilding their life.
We are nowhere near the end of the story on this one. But here's another dimension. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke in a nearby church. Guess who was sitting in the second row because they had been invited to church? You guessed it.
Presently, we are working on helping our residents with their English language acquisition. Some of them know some English upon arrival, so it's really about fine-tuning their skills. Because they have a good start on the language, I imagine that job acquisition is in their near future. Other residents aren't in the same place. One family has been living in a Kenyan refugee camp for the past seven years and they have had very little external help. None of their children have been attending school. I think their greatest obstacle is fear—fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged—so in their mind, it's better to say nothing. Our approach is very non-judgmental. In addition to formal ESL classes during the day, we do three tutorials a week with volunteer help. We also do a homework club twice a week with the children who are in school (and growing like weeds).
I mentioned that one of our families graduated in late August. They moved to be closer to their employment. Another family left on September 30th. Their family of seven (mom, dad, and five kids) had struggled in a two-bedroom apartment, and they felt ready to move out on their own. With the help of their support team, they were able to find a three-bedroom place to put down roots. As a result, we have two new families coming before the end of October.
If your group needs housing for a refugee family, we may have room. It never hurts to call!
Christmas is coming and with it comes year end. We find ourselves thanking God that we have received close to 75% of our needs already. We need to push forward to finish the year end well so we can continue to help families in need. If you are able to give a gift to our year end campaign, we would be delighted. One gracious donor has provided a gift of up to $25,000 promising to match any and all year end donations—this gives you a chance to double your gift! It's easiest to donate by going to our website at www.newhopecs.org, or if you wish to mail a cheque, please send it to:
13478 Hilton Rd
Surrey, BC V3R 5J4
Thank you for your support!
If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering with New Hope, check out our Take Action page, call us at 778-394-1191, or email us at
New Hope Community Services Society
13478 Hilton Road
Surrey, BC V3R 5J4