Trust in the Uncertainty

I am a third-year business student, who can shamelessly admit, has no clue where he is going upon completing his degree. Although this has been frustrating at times, it has left me with no other choice than to trust God with my future. My decision to be involved with TRAC and the refugee crisis came from this trust. It made me realized that life is full of uncertainty.

Will I ever see my family again? Will I be able to provide for them? Will I have a physical structure to call home tomorrow? All these questions relate to the uncertainty a refugee may feel on an every-day basis. This is how the crisis spoke to me. Not being involved almost seemed as if I was declining the emulation of the love and care God has for everyone. I believe that the comfort experienced through trusting in God must be shared. This very comfort spawns from the love that He has for us– the same love we are called to seek out and spread and the same love that does not completely remove uncertainty, but that leads us to peace through the confidence in the safekeeping of our future in His hands.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. God is preparing us through TRAC to do His good works. Even though we approach the summer and the following months with uncertainty, the trust everyone involved in TRAC has in God is what encourages us to keep pushing closer towards our goal. I hope that TRAC’s efforts can motivate others to keep trusting in Him, including the family we will be welcoming here.

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The image above shows a road leading into the fog. An individual standing at the very beginning of the road does not know what lies ahead. The only ones who do know are those who live beyond the fog. Similarly, the family we will sponsor is uncertain of what lies ahead. But, what the family doesn’t know is that by only the grace of God, TRAC is in the process of preparing a future for them beyond the fog of uncertainty.

-Carter Perran

Passion

I choked back tears, struggling to maintain my composure as I watched the recurring scene play out in front of me.  The kids simply couldn’t understand each other and the frustration was increasing.  One was explaining the game repeatedly in an exasperated tone and the other was trying to follow and respond in patchy English with a look of terror and embarrassment on her face.

I have been passionate about working with refugees for almost a year now, since refugee children started flooding the Surrey school system and my after school fitness programs for at-risk youth.  These sweet souls didn’t speak the same language as their peers and leaders, they didn’t have snacks when most of the other kids did, they didn’t understand any of the games or activities, they wore shorts and tank-tops in the snow; they were clearly different and it was hard.

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Working with these kids during their first 4 months in Canada as they transitioned into a new culture and language, after experiencing such trauma transformed me and stretched me in ways I never expected.  I saw what a tangible support I could be to hurting hearts who were going through unimaginable internal and external conflict. What I didn’t realize then is that Jesus was planting a seed and preparing my heart for an undeniably passionate love.

When I heard Jordie’s vision for TRAC, I was immediately captivated by his authentic passion.  There aren’t too many things that light a fire in me more than listening to people speak with genuine love and commitment.  I saw Jesus in the faces of every picture shown in his presentation, and heard the laughter of my little Syrian friends in my head.  TRAC’s mission spoke to me and gave me the palpable way to continue to pursue growth for that seed in my heart that I had been craving.

Its so easy to feel helpless when we look at the map and see all of the pain in the world. Countries suffering from war, hurricanes, persecution, corruption, poverty… pull up any news channel and the list goes on.  However, overshadowing all of that tribulation, I see hope because I know that the Savior we serve loves redemption. No offence or suffering can exhaust the depths of His love. Our world is a beautiful mess, as overwhelming brokenness becomes whole by the grace of Jesus’ redemptive heart.  Through TRAC we desire to be Jesus’ hands and feet, playing a small part in healing brokenness in our shattered world through Christ’s power, even if it’s just the brokenness of one family.

My name is Malia Scholz, I’m a first year in Kinesiology at Trinity Western and the Volunteer Coordinator for TRAC.  This role fits my passion for the refugee crisis and for working with people perfectly.  I am so excited to see how Jesus’s vast redemption and love continues to mold hearts to love His children like He does, through TRAC.  As individuals, we are relatively insignificant pieces in this massive world, but by allowing Christ’s immeasurable power to work in our weakness we are believing that the Lord will perform healing even beyond our goals for TRAC.

-Malia

Fuelled by Love

Canada is a multi-cultural nation. This is why I didn’t think the refugee crisis was important for me to be educated on because I thought it wasn’t too hard to apply for refugee status within Canada. But the fact is that Canada has the space and resources to have more refugees and yet we haven’t increased the amount of people that we are welcoming into the country.

syria-child-refugees5Psalm 82:3 says “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.”

As Christians, I feel that it is our mission to help those when we are given the chance to get involved. In December I went on a missions trip to Mexico and saw the poverty of a country that is so connected to us. I came home with an ache in my heart and felt the need to get involved in something that would make a difference for people who couldn’t be heard by the masses.

 

I saw TRAC as my opportunity to make a difference for people on the other side of the world while I could still focus on being a student. I’ve always had this desire to get involved in something that feels important to me. After I attended the initial launch event, I felt this need pressed on my heart that I had to get involved in what TRAC was doing. I talked to Jordan right away and expressed this and he welcomed me to the team. Now in my role as merchandise coordinator, I have the opportunity to contribute my time and skills to a cause that I am passionate about. This is why TWU is so special. Here we can adopt a cause that our whole community can get behind.

-Miranda Friesen

From a Vision to a Reality

On an autumn day in 2016, I was introduced to the vision of TRAC That day, I was chilling and relaxing on my bed, when my next door dorm mate, Jordan Koslowsky, walked into my room. He asked if I wanted to come to a Social Justice Club meeting to listen to a presentation he’d been quietly working on. I had no idea what he was going to present about, so I was hesitant to go at first. But then I stood up, gave him a nod, grabbed my jacket, shoes and headed out the door with him. At the meeting, he walked up to the front the room with a powerpoint at the ready. He presented on a topic I was very oblivious about: the global refugee crisis. He had a vision in mind to create a campaign aimed towards creating awareness about the ongoing events. By the end of his presentation, I was enamoured with the passion and drive he had for this cause; and right then and there, I knew I wanted to take action to help fulfill his vision.

Hi. My name is Carlos Alvaro, and I am the Graphic Designer and Photographer for TRAC. I am a second year, Media and Communications major from good ol’ Surrey, BC. Using my passion for design and photography and integrating my developing passion for learning about the tragic refugee crisis (happening not only in Syria, but in places like South Sudan, Myanmar and other parts of the globe in an organized setting like TRAC is an absolute blessing.

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Being a part of the TRAC team has been an incredible experience. Being able to work with fellow Trinity students and coming from different backgrounds and skillsets to advance together with the same passion and drive has been awe-inspiring.  Not only has being with the team been great but seeing the support of the TWU community has been absolutely amazing as well. Thank you!

I believe that, as Christians, we are called to love and love with action. We are called to serve. We are called to protect. We are called to hope. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Continue to help us fulfill our vision and goals. Volunteer, donate and pray. Love is too beautiful to be kept captive. Join the movement.

– Carlos Alvaro

 

Broken-hearted Christians

“Whoever saves one life saves the entire world,” said Itzhak Stern to Oskar Schindler in an emotive last scene of the movie Schindler’s List, after Oskar helped save the lives of over 1,000 Polish-Jewish refugees. That movie portrays the Holocaust of the 20th century. Some have correctly identified what’s happening right now in Aleppo as another holocaust, a genocide.

There is a video that made me break down in tears. It features a Syrian mom, with her face covered in blood in the middle of a chaotic hospital, mourning her dead children after the government bombed their building in Aleppo and killed entire families.

“They did not die in vain,” says a boy, holding his dead brother between his arms.

I often wonder how, as a society, we can all just keep walking through life, ignoring that there are places burning in fire and people covered in blood every single day. Especially since we have the ability to do something about it.

That is why TRAC is not just a project, nor simply a cool initiative. What we are doing is trying to impact the lives of six real people. Even if that seems little compared to the millions crying for help, we know that each life is immensely worthy- especially from a Christian perspective, knowing that God loves them deeply.

I am Emilio Rodríguez, I am from El Salvador, and I believe that being a Christian demands to have your heart broken over and over again and to give every drop of your sweat serving where pain is present, over and over again. “One cannot be a Christian if he is not a revolutionary,” says Pope Francis, and I could not agree more: a Christian must be a revolutionary that seeks to transform those dark places through sharing Christ´s love.

I have found my passion and life purpose in giving all my efforts to social justice issues, inspired and guided by the integral, redemptive work of Jesus, rooted in intensive social science studies. My major is International Studies, and there is nothing else I would rather do than focusing on the different social issues in the world and how to address them.

This is why, when Jordie told me his “crazy idea” in late September 2016, I had no other words to say other than a huge “yes”. This was not the first time that he and I discussed ideas about how to change the world- I have the blessing of being his dorm mate for three semesters now. I remember that, starting in spring 2016 (my first semester at TWU), we used to have late night talks about future humanitarian projects, social issues, and politics.

“We are going to start an NGO someday,” I recall him saying as we talked about the idea of fostering coffee production in Central America by creating an organization that sold it to Canada- or something like that.

The dream of starting an organization came sooner than what I expected. Jordie returned from the summer with this amazing idea. We discussed it from the beginning, reading through the basic, initial drafts; and, finally, when the idea had more shape, we invited him to share it with the Social Justice Club. And from then on, TRAC grew exponentially to become what it is now.

My official role in the beginning was to be one of the Social Justice Club Liaisons, since I am the co-leader of the SJC, alongside Andrea Rodríguez. Our role was to manage the partnership between TRAC and the SJC, having our main responsibility in organizing the launch event that happened on February 2nd, 2017, in which members of the Social Justice Club were closely involved.

Now, I am TRAC´s journalist, leading the advocacy aspect of our campaign. One of my projects is called “TRAC stories”, which is a compilation of inspiring messages and personal profiles from people working for refugees and refugees themselves telling their stories- stay tuned and expect this soon.

I believe that we are called to raise our voices loud and clear against these injustices. Especially now that xenophobia is prevalent in North America, I find my mission in telling the stories of real people that are being affected by these ideas.

These are real people, not numbers; they are not running away from their countries because they want to steal your jobs, or because they want to terrorize your land. They are running away because they are being killed in their homelands. You only leave home like that, and beg for help, when home is the mouth of a shark.

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My personal hope for the future, and through TRAC, is that we become a community that is aware of the suffering in the world and that is quick to share the love of Christ through compassion towards the “least of these”. As Christians, we must love deeply and fight for justice. We must allow our hearts to be broken, and out of that pain, find inspiration to make a change.

Emilio Rodriguez

disPLACE: Refugee Stories in Their Own Words

disPLACE: Refugee Stories in Their Own Words is a TWU production that shares the real-life experiences of refugees coming to Canada, in their own words. From Mennonite immigrants who fled Europe after World War II, to the current global refugee crisis, the stories in disPLACE shine a light on the bonds that tie all of us together. Five actors transform into multiple characters in this unforgettable journey, knit together by original music and verbatim testimony. The show premiered in November but is being performed again from March 2-5. On Thursday, March 2 disPLACE is showing at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford at 2 and 7 p.m. Partial proceeds from this performance will go towards TRAC’s effort to sponsor a refugee family.

TRAC is excited to partner with members of the TWU community that are also working to make a difference in the global refugee crisis.

Experiences of People Involved

One cast member wrote:

What if war raged in your country? What if bombs fell on your street? What if you were separated from your family in order to survive? disPLACE is a common ground where we can listen to the true, heartfelt stories of refugees from Iraq, Syria, Columbia, Ukraine, and the Congo. The words are verbatim (directly from the refugees themselves) and each song and scene on stage was created by the ensemble as they processed and were inspired by the true stories that they encountered. As a member of the cast, it is an honour to share these stories of real people and to understand a glimmer of what it is like to be in their shoes. The power of vulnerability can be life changing and each cast member has been affected in some way through this process. Please come and be a part of disPLACE.

Angela Konrad, Director of disPLACE wrote, “Response to the show when it premiered on campus in November was phenomenal. So many people talked about how it changed their perspective on refugees. So many people wanted to know how they can help welcome refugees. Working on this show was life changing for all of us and meeting these new Canadians and hearing of their courage and resilience was such an inspiration. It is an honour and privilege to bring their stories to life.”

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disPLACE shares the experiences of refugees coming to Canada, in their own words.

Showtimes

Thursday, March 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Mennonite Heritage Museum, Abbotsford

(partial proceeds to TRAC refugee sponsorship)

Friday, March 3 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at TWU Richmond

Sunday, March 5 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at The Cultch, Vancouver

More info at http://humanitascentre.org/darkglasstheatre/displace/

 

To God be the Glory

Here we are, in the middle of February, about a month after launching TRAC. The incredible and overwhelming amount of support we have received throughout this period is infallible evidence of God’s grace and how He really does care for us.

I am a third year HKIN student. I love coffee, music, and people; and if you had talked to me a year ago about the global refugee crisis, I probably would have expressed to you how unfortunate it was. But I would not have had any way to respond and tangibly make a difference. If you had told me that we were going to be raising funds and awareness to bring a refugee family here to Langley, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. However, here we are. God has placed it on my heart to respond—to use my gifts and talents, to use my time and energy, and to use my voice to seek justice for people being affected by the global refugee crisis.

At the beginning of this school year, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to respond. Prior to this, I had very little exposure to the refugee crisis. I have never walked the grounds of a refugee camp, nor seen the crisis first-hand; however, TRAC is extremely close to my heart, and I have learned new things about God’s character through my involvement. Our goal is that we would be able to glorify God through this campaign, and that our efforts would inspire others to want to make a difference. As we continue this journey together, please continue to pray for us. Pray that we would remain faithful to responding to the call that has been placed on our hearts, pray for the family that we will be welcoming here, and pray that others would feel the need to respond as well.

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Why waves? I love the mystery and wonder that is found within the waves. Jesus has the power to command the waves. Our family will be flying over oceans to come to Langley. Though life has its own waves, its own ups and downs, its own times of triumph and trial, God is still sovereign through it all.

To God be the glory,

Connor Green