Volunteering: What It Means to Me

With another school year starting, we are excited to welcome new volunteers that are willing to use their interests and abilities to make a difference in the global refugee crisis. To learn more about the experience of TRAC volunteers, read this write up by Christine and check out the video made by Jared! If you're interested in joining us visit our Volunteer page or email volunteer.trac.twu@gmail.com.

"I keep telling people that teaching at MEFC is the best part of my life right now. I look forward to those couple hours on Saturdays every week. It’s an incredible thing – that English was just given to me, I didn’t have to study it or take a course, I just absorbed it as a child. And now, I have something that others desire to learn. I consider it a great blessing to be able to teach and build connections with the students at MEFC. I love seeing how they work together to understand and how a group of middle aged adults can get into the competition of a silly white-board race. There is so much joy and purpose in that place. I am so excited about the volunteering aspect of what TRAC is doing. Donating money is fantastic and wearing merch builds awareness, but there’s an opportunity for students to directly be involved in the lives of newcomers. There are so many things to care and fret about in this broken and dark world, but there are also ways to respond. I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach. If anyone is interested in volunteering – please contact volunteer.trac.twu@gmail.com"

-Christine Dyck

The Kapanda's First Week: One Year Later

It’s astonishing, really.

The way idealistic circumstances only become a reality when God is involved. The way He weaves all of our lives together. The way He orchestrates perfect timing for every encounter. The Kapanda family is a genuine testament to the blessings we receive from God when we remain faithful.

Normally, a Notice of Arrival is received two weeks prior to a “newcomer” family’s arrival into Canada. We received our Notice of Arrival for the Kapanda family on August 24th, 2017. They were landing in Vancouver on the 28th of August. Four days. We only had four days to secure a house for them, as it was our vision to be able to hand them their very own key to their new home as soon as they touched down in Vancouver. The key is a very prominent symbol throughout refugee history, as it represents the “Key of Return” to the lands from which they have been displaced. So, we trusted that the idealistic circumstance would become reality in those four days. And it did.

The house hunt was frantic and discouraging; doors were closing everywhere we looked. On Saturday, only two days before their arrival, our team looked at a house that we had found online. The landlady already had around twenty offers on the house, but God gave her a heart for “new coming” families, and she chose us. We were able to move everything in by Sunday.


The Kapanda family had arrived. At first, they were noticeably tentative, and rightfully so. As Malia Scholz shared the exciting news that they would be brought to their new home, the father was visibly confused as he processed the words, but deep relief flooded his face when his voice cracked, “We have a home?”

We handed over their house key, a truly remarkable and profound moment as it marked the family’s new chapter of safety, assurance and rest.

Walking through the house, we explained to the family how the shower and lights worked, as the kids excitedly ran around, exploring and curiously investigating the items in their new bedrooms. The different languages did not even present a barrier, as we were able to communicate through God’s language, love.

We stood hand-in-hand and covered their new home with Jesus’ presence and protection.


In the summer of 2017, Jordan Koslowsky connected with a Congolese lady from the same city that the Kapanda family came from. She was very excited at the opportunity to take the family shopping to one of her favourite local stores where they could find familiar Congolese food. When she went to church that following Sunday, she told her other Congolese friends about the new family, not knowing that the father’s nephew actually attended the same church! He hadn’t seen his nephew in fifteen years, so you can imagine the shock when they realized they only lived a thirty-minute drive apart. God loves his children and His ability and willingness to weave our lives together and orchestrate impeccable timing on our behalf is proof of that.

-written by Hannah DeVries

TRAC Sharing Inspiration Scholarship

We are thrilled to announce the creation of the TRAC Sharing Inspiration Scholarship which will make it possible for a student with history as a refugee to attend Trinity Western University

What: The Sharing Inspiration Scholarship will fully fund the recipient at TWU until completion of their program, or up to five years, renewing the award on a year-to-year basis beginning September 2019.


Recipients will: 

  • have a refugee history
  • be eligible for admission to Trinity Western University
  • be committed to making the most of their university experience! 

We encourage all interested individuals that meet these criteria to apply!


  1. Download the application: TRAC Sharing Inspiration Scholarship Application
  2. Submit the completed application* and letters of reference to TRACScholarship@twu.ca

*Only completed applications will be considered.


  1. Applications will begin being reviewed in February 2019.
  2. Finalists will be notified by May 2019.
  3. The recipient will be selected by July 2019.


We believe in the transformational power of the TWU community and want to share that with a deserving refugee student. It is estimated that a mere 1% of refugees will receive a post-secondary education. Through post-secondary education, the scholarship recipient will gain training and experience in their desired field, creating new sustainable opportunities as they move forward in our community and beyond. Our hope is that through this scholarship, a refugee settled in Canada will develop a sustainable career for themselves, make connections and networks in their new community, grow in character alongside us as fellow students at Trinity Western, and have the means to make a difference in their home countries in the future. This project is about creating a sustainable future despite transition and resettlement.

Since August 2017, TRAC has fundraised for the Sharing Inspiration scholarship through various means such as ongoing merchandise sales, a tax-deductible online giving platform through TWU, and numerous events.

From February 2, 2017-July 31, 2018 TRAC has raised $75,375.43 towards its projects, mobilized 106 volunteers, facilitated 17 awareness events, and sold 835 pieces of merchandise.

Download the application here: TRAC Sharing Inspiration Scholarship Application

Families Belong Together

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” -MLK Jr.

When I see the migrant families being detained and separated at the border, I can’t help but be reminded that the only thing that separates me from them is opportunity. We often take many opportunities for granted: the opportunity to study, to have a dignifying job, the opportunity to live in a safe community— we don’t think or thank God for our opportunities nearly enough.

The truth is that for many living in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) these opportunities we consider basic, are a luxury. The region has the highest rates of homicide and criminal violence in the world: homicides, gang rapes, assaults, hearing gunshots when walking down the street—that becomes the new normal. On top of that, extortions, intimidation, and bribes make economic advancement almost impossible for vulnerable communities. The choice of leaving your home country is not an easy one, but when your life or your child’s life is on the line, it doesn’t even seem that much of a choice at all.

This is why thousands of migrants are willing to embark on a tough journey and to endure criminality, abuse, and discrimination: to have an opportunity. An opportunity to work and give their children a dignified, safe life. The journey across Mexico to get to the US is physically and emotionally crushing. Migrants face all kinds of obstacles, including extreme temperatures, water and food scarcity, physical and sexual abuse, and traffickers eager to take advantage of their vulnerability. What we don’t often hear is that many of them don’t make it to the US: out of approx. 300,000 people who flee the Northern Triangle every year, less than 10% actually enter the US.


There is not an expectation that migrating and seeking to start a new life in the US will be easy, but separating asylum-seeking families was an unnecessary act of cruelty. Putting asylum-seekers in cages and giving children foil blankets was humiliating. The separation and abuse were incredibly traumatizing for children and their parents. Family separation is a way to continue to kick down those who are already on the ground. It is robbing them of the hope of opportunity, and for parents, is separating them from the reason why they chose to endure all of the hardship in the first place: their children. This is neither humane nor effective. How we react to this crisis will set a precedent in how we treat the vulnerable around the world.

We all deserve an opportunity. This is not about politics, but about humanity and decency. We need to treat Central American migrants with the same compassion we treat refugees. Because they ARE refugees. The type of violence they are escaping from might look different than war zone violence, but it is equally brutal and equally relentless.

What can you do to help migrant families? Right now, the main concern is to reunite the children with their parents and providing legal services to unaccompanied children.

Why is legal protection for children important? These children are fleeing extreme violence – access to legal relief in the US is the difference between the opportunity of having a safe childhood or being deported / never being able to be reunited with their parents.

Below are some organizations doing amazing work that you can support.


RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. website | donate

KIND (Kids In Need of Defense)

KIND staff + pro bono attorney partners at law firms, corporations, and law schools nationwide represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings. website | donate

ASAP (Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project)

ASAP prevents wrongful deportations by providing community support and emergency legal aid to refugee families across the United States. website | donate

Al Otro Lado

Al Otro Lado is a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. website | donate

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

An opportunity to learn more by visiting Central America is possible with MCC from November 7-17. website

The Lord Will Provide

It feels strange to use “I” so many times as I write to update you on the amazing things God is doing through TRAC, specifically in the settlement of the Kapanda family. Although this story feels quite personal to me, my hope is that my reflections will share how the Kapanda’s are an inspiring testament of Christ’s promise, while articulating beautiful evidence of truth.   

I’m calling 2017, “The Lord Will Provide.”

Working as TRAC’s Settlement Director is a privilege I’m blessed by every day. We experience God’s promise: Emmanuel, God with us, every day. The journey of settling the Kapanda’s has brought the story of Abraham to life in front of my eyes. Let me try to explain.

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This year I frequently found myself walking blindly into new seasons, feeling uprooted from sudden change, sitting confused in situations that didn’t line up with my plans and dreams, stuck in places that I wouldn’t have chosen and didn’t ask for, and in situations where I genuinely thought I would be better. God brought me to the promise He made to Abraham when he travelled to the Promised Land. He provided Himself, the same God who in 2017 met me vividly in all seasons. In His snow boots and parka to wrap a blanket around my shivering shoulders, building a fire when my hands were too immobilized to move on my own, and under the hot sunshine joining me in bare feet and sunnies to dance in flowering fields. The promise wasn’t simplicity or that life would unfold as planned. He doesn’t promise a world without illness or heartbreak. This year I saw through surrendering the way I want to write my story, and assuming a humble position of hopeful faith towards how He will write it, God’s tangible provision in all circumstances bringing life to His true promise. He promises Himself, Emmanuel, God with us.

I can’t imagine Abraham’s confusion or heartache as he trekked up the mountain with his beloved son to sacrifice him in blind obedience to God’s instruction; the weight of what Abraham must’ve felt as he fully trusted and prepared to slaughter Isaac. But at the last minute, The Lord not only provided a ram in the thicket, He graciously spared Isaac’s life. Abraham fittingly named that place, The Lord Will Provide.

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I’ve been blessed to hear parts of Kapanda and Cecile’s story. Though painful to reminisce, they vulnerably share and never fail to say “The Lord was with us then.” They never expected to have to flee their country because of corrupt violence. Their home and native land. They didn’t ask to spend years displaced from their home, powerless to provide for themselves, experiencing unimaginable loss and uncertainty about the future of their children. The indubitable understanding Kapanda and Cecile have of His promise, God with us, saturates their stories and reflects in a way that shows me the power of naming all seasons, “The Lord Will Provide.” It cultivates a life that reflects this trust through the overflowing love, faith, hope, and obedience as I see exemplified by Kapanda and Cecile.

Most of 2017 for me was (metaphorically) frolicking through fields, hand in hand with people I love, full of joy, exuberant thanksgiving, light, and blossoming flowers. However, some unforeseen turns brought me to dimmer, rougher trails. When on these paths my mind felt full of chaos. Overwhelmed with emotions that felt 8 sizes too big for my body, I would find myself in desperate need of stillness. The August afternoon we received notice that the family was arriving in 4 days was one of these times. I’m ashamed to admit that my initial reaction was panic and fear at the seemingly impossible feats to accomplish. My brain was in overdrive.

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God spoke life into my self-made bubble of doubt through the form of those I trusted.
“Stop everything. Pray. Invite and ask others to help.”
In quieting my heart, He led me to Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight your battles, you need only to be still.”
Say that out loud a couple times.
What a God we serve to offer such a promise, the promise of Himself, Emmanuel, God with us.  I stilled my heart and let God lead the preparation, through prayer and thanksgiving laying my plan on the altar in obedience. We saw and continue to see tangible provision in the most powerful ways I’ve ever experienced. A ram in the thicket. A home, a loving landlord, servant hearts who helped us move in, patience to get the paperwork done, being covered in encouragement and prayer, amazing alumni to come alongside us, volunteers who dove all in when I needed it most, and so many more blessings. I am calling this place The Lord Will Provide.

In a chilly season this fall, the reality of how unequipped I am to be in this role banged on my heart. My 19 years of life experience can’t even begin to relate to the things even Dorcas’ 8 years of life have brought her through. A loved one reminded me to be “infusing myself with truth” in addition to seeking stillness.                       
God is good. He is working all things for my good. His power is made perfect in my weakness.    I’ve known these truths since I was 3 years old, I’ve always believed them with all my heart. But God wants more and has been patiently teaching me by settling it in the deepest parts of my heart that I didn’t even know were hardened. Reminding me constantly through multiple modes including the many beautiful souls at Trinity, His creation, His Word, and especially through the refugee family I blindly agreed to settle at the beginning of 2017, long before I knew their names or heard their voices. The Kapanda’s love to sing. The kids sing at the top of their lungs in my car, Cecile sings as she cooks, and Kapanda sings as he prays. They sing words proclaiming truth.                                                                                                                                               
“Uko mwemba Baba” means “You’re a good Father.”                                                “Aliahidi atatenda” means “He promised and He will.”                                              “Fadhili zake ni za milele” means “His grace is eternal.”                                          “Mungu ni mwaminifu, kwa ahadi zake wanadamu” means “God is faithful, in His promise to humankind.”
During the many hours a week I spend with them, the truths they sing infuse my heart and heal. They will never know the magnitude of it, but God knew and He provided, a ram in the thicket in His perfect timing, and I will call these places The Lord Will Provide.

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Over and over again this year, in all seasons I’ve seen this promise unfold. In a quiet room surrounded by truths written on the walls, and stillness all around me Jesus brings me closer to His heart as I learn the significance of setting my heart on the altar asking God to take what little I can offer, trusting that in this heart space He will provide a ram. To prioritize the one on one time every relationship needs to flourish, to establish intimacy, to initiate vulnerability, to nurture the love language of quality time, to worship, to adore, to exalt, to receive the greatest gift. The greatest reward. The greatest promise that quenches the thirst of body, heart, and mind: Emmanuel, God with us. We must be still. We must stop everything. Pray. We are not enough, but He will multiply and provide.

Traversing through loss of health, relationships, and endeavors I saw as answers to my prayers, God redefined what I had stated in my humanly limited language. The Promise Land itself was not Abraham’s reward, Christ is. A safe home in Canada and hopeful future is not the Kapanda’s reward, Christ is. Season spent frolicking through fields is not my reward, Christ is. And this year, as things I was passionately invested in were stripped away from me, my roots were still identified in Christ and His presence is the Promise. I will call this place The Lord Will Provide.

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The Kapanda’s hold onto the hope and promises of Christ like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This family warms hearts by their radiant love for Christ. They lead lives overflowing with grace and patience and trust. They rely wholly on God to provide their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. They’ve travelled a long and hard path, which reflects God’s goodness and redemption all the more intensely. I have been stretched, challenged, touched, and healed by the Kapanda’s past stories of courage and faith, their current expression of love, and their hopeful anticipation for the unknown future. Technically my role is to lead a team in walking alongside the family for their first year in Canada, however I’m the one who is blessed to have them walking with me, shaping me, challenging me daily to let go of the story I’m trying to write with a dull pencil on a wet napkin, surrendering it up to the God who provides when I make that sacrifice. The God who promised Abraham, who promises the Kapanda’s, and who promises you and I the greatest gift of Himself, Emmanuel, God with us.

Trusting the Fear

Hi, I am Jared La Mar. I am a second year Corporate Comm major with a film minor. I got involved with TRAC last summer when Matt Hayashi explained what he does as a video editor for TRAC. I have always been passionate about making videos since I was a kid, but I have never applied it to a worthy cause. When Matt asked me to join the team, my heart was in the wrong spot. I was excited to join the team because I’d be making videos, but once I started understanding the issue at hand my perspective changed to how people need to understand this crisis that the world is going through. Before I had joined TRAC I had little to no knowledge of the refugee crisis, but when I first met the Kapanda family it opened my eyes to the ignorance that so many people have towards refugees. The family was so grateful and joyful for everything God had given them, even though they had every right to feel down and lonely, being in a new country. Seeing the smiles on their faces and watching God’s love pour out of them destroyed any negative stigma towards refugees that I had been naïve about previously.

This also made me excited for the future of TRAC. If university students can bring a family to Canada, what can we not do? A long term dream that I want to see TRAC achieve is creating a short term mission program in partnership with Global Projects. Living in Canada, there is only so much we can do. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own privileged bubble that we often forget that there is a world of hurt and suffering out there. I believe that God has put us in our privileged situations to help those in need. If I hadn’t joined TRAC I doubt that I would have these overwhelming thoughts of ministry. Even though these dreams of ministry overwhelm me, I know that it’s all for the glory of God, and it’s because of our situation that he works through us. 

-Jared La Mar


The Closest I'll Ever Be to Being on a Track Team

My name is Hannah Grills, and I am a first-year business student at Trinity Western University.  I was introduced to TRAC by the director of the merchandise team, my good friend, Ava Sawatzy. Ava explained to me at the beginning of the school year what TRAC was all about and asked me if I’d be interested in joining the merchandise team. Thankfully, I said yes! From that day on, I have been a part of the merchandise team, and I help where help is needed. 

In my first few months with TRAC, I have come to the realization that a few committed people, single-mindedly sharing a goal, can make a significant impact on the lives of a group of refugees. Just last week, at TRAC’s Night of Stories event, I was blown away by the dedication and hard work of other local refugee resettlement organizations. Representatives came to talk with TRAC and Trinity Western students about the refugee crisis and their experiences walking alongside refugees who have fled to Canada. It was encouraging to hear from other people who feel called by God to devote their time to helping refugees, like Peter and Dawn-Lynn Prediger, who co-founded and direct Inasmuch Community Society. Peter and Dawn-Lynn provide a home in Abbotsford as transitional housing for refugee claimants.  Their whole focus is on making refugees feel at home and like family. The Predigers also provide for the needs of their new “family members” like food, clothing, medical care, transportation, English lessons, and so much more.  

            The collective message that stood out to me from all who spoke was that, even though they are the ones investing in the lives of refugees, they feel like they have been equally as blessed in the process.

            All in all, it has been an honour to be on the TRAC team and to witness how our small contribution can make tangible change for good in other people’s lives. It’s so exciting to see God’s hand in the work to support refugees right here at home.

"Oh, but you must."

"In early September, I got an email from one of our partner organizations describing an urgent need. They had recently connected with a family of newly arrived refugee claimants that had no support as they began their Canadian journey. As claimants, these people receive virtually nothing and some end up on the street. In order to avoid this, the organization was trying to develop a settlement team. My initial thought was that there was no way we could meet this need. Our team was stretched so thin and I didn't know of anybody (let alone a group) that was willing to make such a large commitment. I began to write a response but my heart had been grabbed, and I knew that I needed to say we would help. God is so faithful, and when we shared about this opportunity an incredible team quickly formed (pictured above). The following post is written by Lauren Bolander, a leading member of the settlement team. This post reveals the heart of our inspiring volunteers that commit to developing relationships and serving in the refugee and newcomer community."


When my mom had her first child she found herself running out of time in the day. My dad and her had just moved to a new church and bought their first house. Waking up at 5:30am was exhausting and she couldn’t find the time to pray or read her Bible. She was overwhelmed. My mom told her mentor how she was so exhausted and couldn’t bring herself to wake up any earlier to do her devotions. Without hesitation, her mentor simply responded, “Oh, but you must.”

When I heard about TRAC’s need for a second settlement team, I was intrigued. I knew I wanted to get involved with a ministry, but I didn’t want to commit to something too time-consuming; second year was supposed to be the year that I brought up my grades and focused on school (for the first time in all of my schooling experience). I was asked to be the new settlement team leader, but I said no because I didn’t think I had the time. I quickly heard those four convicting words: “Oh, but you must.” I believe that the most fundamental part of a Christian faith is selfless service and love. But I have begun to notice that as a community of Christians, we don’t serve often enough or for the right reasons. Serving doesn’t always have to be a time-consuming volunteer position, but we ought to do something to focus on the needs of other people; in fact, we must. Serving should not just be another thing we add to our list of things to do, nor should it be for own selfish benefit. Yet somehow that is what I have made it to be.

The family I am working with was a family of three (almost four) when I met them. They had not yet been accepted as refugees in Canada, making them refugee claimants - meaning that the government was not giving them any help. They needed a place to live, a way to pay for it, a doctor to deliver their baby, a school to send their 11-year-old son to, and more. I was overwhelmed by the list and did not know where to begin. But, to my surprise, the family did most of these things on their own. I had ignorantly assumed that they would desperately need our help settling into this new lifestyle. But in reality, they just needed a lot of love, financial support, and people who could help them if they ran into any problems or had questions. It took me a couple of months to realize this, but when I did I was overwhelmingly convicted. The point of serving is adapting to the needs of people, not what we think they need. It is selfless service. At first, I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to help this family, since they were so independent, but I should have been rejoicing with them. Just because they are refugees does not mean that they are incapable of doing things for themselves. I am learning that I am here to love this family in the way that they need, not the way that I originally thought they needed. They need people who will build relationships with them and welcome them into this new life. They need people who will show them love, hope, and grace because that is what has been shown to us. And that is what we shall do, not because it is another thing to check off the list, but because it is what we have been called to do. Because we must.

I leave you with this. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, you are called to live a life that is centered on other people. Even though we are in university, we cannot use that as an excuse to only focus on school. We cannot forget our calling. It is hard and it is humbling, but I pray that we may be humbled every day so that we can step outside of ourselves and serve. May we step outside of this bubble we call school and allow Christ to open our eyes. May we step outside of the excuses and hear the words “Oh, but you must.”

Lauren Bolander

Track x TRAC

My name is Christopher Weiss and I am a third-year human kinetics student at Trinity Western.  I also compete for the Trinity Spartans Track and Field team in the disciplines of the pole vault and decathlon.  To avoid confusion, I am a member of both the Track team at Trinity and now the TRAC team.  I joined the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign team at the beginning of the school year and help in the merchandise department. 


This year I was looking for an opportunity to work and serve with my time, ideas and talents.  I felt as though God was putting in on my heart to get involved in outreach and it just so happened that I was already well connected with many members involved with TRAC.  Last year the vision and mission of bringing a refugee family to Langley was brought to the Trinity community by the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign.  The campaign quickly grew and spread all across campus and the Trinity community in the form of T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the TRAC key logo.  I remember purchasing all forms of the TRAC merch to support the cause but was left wondering how I could take my support to the next level.  During the summer, some of my friends involved with the TRAC ministry proposed a position to me of helping with the merchandise team.  I didn’t think much of the conversation till the beginning of this school year where I felt God calling me to join and serve in TRAC.  With this I asked members on the team if the position on the merchandise team was still available and here we are today!


As a student athlete, it can be hard to find an outlet to serve in outreach and ministry when a lot of your energy and time is focused into your academics and athletics.  It is important to remain faithful and patient in that God is working in all aspects of our lives even when the evidence may not be clear.  I feel very blessed with my position I have been given on the TRAC team as it allows me to serve within my busy lifestyle.  I’ll be at the TRAC Tuesday booth outside TWUSA from 10 to 11:30 so swing by and pick up some merch! (Booth runs from 10-3 if you can’t make it then.)

More Than Merchandise

Ever since high school, I have loved clothes. I love the way they look, the way they express personality, and the way they can be used as a form of communication. My name is Ava Sawatzky and I am a second-year business student. I have the great honor and privilege of directing the merchandise team.

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During my first year at Trinity, I heard about TRAC, but I finally joined in the summer of 2017. I met a member of the TRAC team and she later asked if I wanted to join the merchandise team. Since I was young, I was always a little business woman playing store and charging people taxes for their purchases using my dad’s old cheque books. The idea of combining my studies and skills in business with my passion, clothes, was too good to pass up. I love being able to use different analytical and creative skills to benefit the team. As the director, my role focuses on marketing our brand and products through social media, communicating with my merchandise team of five, and creating profitable products.

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However, merchandise is more than clothes or mugs or pins. This merchandise is life-changing. The sale of TRAC’s products was enough to bring over the Kapanda family from Kenya. But it wasn’t only through good marketing or prices; it was through God. The guidance of God has made it possible for our team to work together and through His presence, we have been successful in bringing awareness to the refugee crisis.

The refugee crisis hits home since my grandparents were refugees from the Ukraine during the Second World War. They fled the communist regime in the Soviet Union because of faith-based persecution and arrived in Canada in 1945. It has been a privilege to walk alongside the Kapanda family and raise money for our latest project, a scholarship for a student with history as a refugee.

If you are interested in supporting TRAC, consider buying merch. Our next booth is Tuesday, November 14 outside of TWUSA from 10-3.


Hi everyone,

The Kapanda family arrived on August 28, and it has been a whirlwind of blessings and learning experiences for our team as we start this phase of the sponsorship process. Four members of our team that are involved in settlement have briefly written about their experiences so far. It's not possible to put in words all the adventures our group has had, and the extent of personal transformation that has occurred, but I hope these write-ups provide a glimpse of what this journey has been like.


Johanna Alderliesten:

These past weeks have been beautiful, joyful, stretching, and transformative. From the beginning of the Sharing Space Sponsorship project to the day we received the notice of arrival, it's been task oriented. Send emails. Meet people. Plans events. Visit rental homes. Shop for groceries. Since the morning of arrival, standing at the airport, I was reminded of the gravity and uncertainty of the days and months to come. It's no longer just a checklist, but a relationship: intentional time, enjoying moments, being present. More than that, it's learning how to balance the two, somehow working together with a common goal, but remembering that things don't always go according to plan. These next weeks are going to be... precious.

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Jordan Koslowsky:

It’s hard to describe what it's like when a moment comes to fruition that is the result of countless hours, effort, and energy. It started as a distant dream, one that seemed too complicated and substantial to reasonably attempt to accomplish. Yet, just over a year after that dream was planted in my heart, the Kapanda family walked through the doors of the Vancouver International Airport. Each document and email that provided more information about the family made their arrival seem more real, yet when we interacted for the first time everything felt like a dream once more. What made it so special wasn’t just the amount of work and time paying off, but it was how a community joined together to make this dream a reality. It was about how a diverse group of individuals gave what they had and made a tangible difference. I knew it was tangible; a family with a new future was standing right in front of me. Our group stood there with the newly arrived family, so full of thankfulness, joy, and an overwhelming sense of anticipation.

The progression of the arrival day contributed to the anticipation. Johanna, Malia and I met at the family’s home in the morning to finish the preparation and make welcome signs. Some other team members joined us a little later and Shigali, our friend from MCC, came with a meal to put in the fridge for the family. The meal was prepared by a Syrian refugee who arrived less than a year ago and wanted to assist our group. We left for the airport and met other members of our group in the International Arrivals area. We stood there, nervous but so excited, and slowly the time ticked by.

Our group seemed to be the exception rather than the norm in multiple areas of the arrival process. Overall, we are a pretty unique group, but we are one of the few groups to get a few days of notice before arrival, as well as one of the groups that waited over three hours for the family to get through customs. For the final hour, I stood near the glass wall, hoping to catch the first glimpse of the family. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting in anticipation, I saw them walk around the corner. We scrambled to get arranged and when they finally stood in front of us we stood there awkwardly as I finalized some paperwork with a CIC representative. However, when we at last got to share who we were and what we were doing, things couldn’t have gone any smoother. Kapanda immediately stated that this is all from God and through God. It was the truest summary of how this dream came to fruition.

The three weeks since the arrival have been full of stories of God’s providence, but one in particular sticks out. A week after arrival, the kids were preparing to start school so I went to their home with my mom the night before to see if we could help with any preparation. When I walked in, I was surprised to see that they had company (they had only been there for six days)! When I found out who was sitting in the living room, I couldn’t even believe it. Here’s the story:

This summer I got to work with a Congolese lady from the same city as the Kapanda family. When we found out they were arriving, I messaged her to ask for advice for what food to have in their kitchen. She was really excited about the family and offered to show them some stores where they could get food from home. A day after the family arrived, they met my friend and went shopping. When my friend went to church on Sunday she was sharing with some other Congolese friends about the Kapandas. One of the ladies who heard the story immediately went and told her husband, who couldn’t believe what he heard. He immediately followed up with my friend to confirm the names. When he heard the names one more time it sunk in. Kapanda was, in fact, his uncle that had just arrived half an hour from where he lived. Kapanda hadn’t seen his nephew in 15 years, and the family hadn’t seen any extended family members in six and a half years. So, when I walked into the family’s home six days after they arrived I got to meet Kapanda’s nephew and his family, both of whom had no idea that either were living in BC. God is good.

There have been so many other exciting experiences in addition to that story. Our team has learned so much and I am constantly in awe of the love, bravery, and determination of the Kapanda family. This is just the beginning of this phase of the process, but so many people continue to contribute and we have a big, loving God that it is intentionally and continually involved in this process. We can’t wait to see what He has in store.

Jessie Reek:

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On August 28th, the day of the Kapanda families arrival, none of us knew what to expect, who we were going to meet, and how they were going to react to this insane transition. In the four hours of waiting at the airport, the anticipation was building up. I was constantly thinking back to all the families I had met in my journey last year to Germany and Greece working in refugee camps wondering, why this family? God placed this thought in my mind, “out of all the refugee families, all the fathers and mothers struggling to keep their families alive I have chosen this family for you”. As soon as I saw those three precious kids and their beautiful parents walk through the doors I knew this was the family we were meant to be with. In those first few moments of meeting them all, tears filling our eyes, we prayed and praised Jesus for bringing us all together. Since that moment I have seen the kids continue to grow, laugh, and discover exciting things like McDonalds cheeseburgers, ice-cream, and monkey bars. I have seen the parents experiencing washing machines, learning how to grocery shop, and being so eager to learn English so they can share with the world how excited they are to be here, in their new home. I asked a few people who have spent brief moments with the family if they could describe them in one word what it would be, and I don’t think I could have said it any better myself. Authentic, courageous, faithful, united, joyful, loving, honouring, bold, and inspiring. I cannot thank God enough for placing this family in our lives. Already they have taught me that in all things we need to praise Jesus and thank Him for His goodness. They are motivated and eager to settle into their new life here, and I cannot wait to see how God uses their passions and strength to inspire everyone around them.

Malia Scholz:

TRAC’s logo symbolizes hope. When the Kapanda family arrived, they didn’t know who was going to meet them or where they were going to be taken.  When I told the father at the airport that we were taking them to their new home, a flood of hope, peace, and joy filled his eyes and spilled out in the form of tears as he repeated back to me, “I have a home?”.

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Handing Kapanda the key to his new home was the most anticipated part of settlement.  The key that is on the hoodies and t-shirts we sold to raise money to sponsor a refugee family, the key that encompasses the hope and new life we have in Christ as Christians, the key that represents the passion and love that Jesus has engrained in us to open ourselves up for Him to move in us, the key that represents a group of university students taking action because of the hope Jesus gives us. Kapanda turned the key, walked in the door of his new home, and immediately praised God for His blessing and providence.

Putting myself in the shoes of the Kapanda family is impossible.  I can’t begin to imagine the pain, fear, and loss they’ve experienced in their lives to bring them here as refugees forced from their home. The hope they have in Christ is courageous beyond belief and is continually expressed as they transition into a foreign world with peace and joy.  

There is so much darkness in our world, the Kapanda family has lived through it, but no offense or suffering can exhaust the depths of His love.  They are a testament to Christ’s redemptive heart, grace, and the hope we have in Him.

Thank you for supporting TRAC, thank you for helping us bring the Kapanda family to a safe new home, thank you to all the servant hearts who helped us move into their new home, and are working with us to continue settling the Kapanda family.  Christ’s love, hope, and passion is reflected by you and your willingness to come alongside us.

Why Do I Volunteer?

I see volunteering as an act of defiance. A resistance against my own natural tendencies, against passivity, and against hatred. My natural tendency is to have my perspective focused on myself, and to be selfish with my time. I am guilty of occupying my time with activities and tasks that will make my own life more comfortable. I am tired of the constant information, updates, and statistics. I am heartbroken that each time I become more desensitized to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. I firmly believe that hatred can be defeated if we choose to put ourselves in positions where God’s goodness and perfection can shine through our weakness.

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre (MEFC). I spent time teaching English to intelligent men and woman whose homeland was Syria. I played games, colored, and laughed with vibrant, joyful children from Iraq. I drank tea and listened to the stories of wise, quiet mothers from Lebanon. Most of all, I learnt about generosity and resilience at the MEFC. I was deeply moved by the generosity and selflessness of those who work hard to offer opportunities, access to community services, and a community to people from the Middle East, Africa and other cultures. Finally, the resilience of the families and individuals who have undergone unimaginable hardship, was astonishing and inspiring.

Over the past few weeks, God has repeatedly been whispering the word “empty” to me. He has been challenging me to try to empty myself emotionally and physically through serving others. He is humbling me by reminding me that my comfort does not always come first, and that I am meant to be a servant, like Jesus was. I encourage you to try and empty yourself, and trust that God will always fill you right back up. Time spent for others is never wasted time. I challenge you to serve, even if the task seems insignificant. Even if no one notices, serve with all your heart.

I am grateful for TRAC and for the opportunities it has given me to live for more than just myself. I am excited that TRAC is offering opportunities to others who feel similar tugs in their hearts. Opportunities such as teaching ESL classes, being a part of a settlement team, or simply spending quality time with the Kapanda family (the refugee family from the Congo that TRAC is supporting through sponsorship).

In conclusion, I am angry about the injustices in the world, but I have chosen to recognize my anger as a blessing and a driving force. I am guilty of selfishness, but I refuse to give up on trying to be more selfless. I believe in love, and I will never stop doing what I can to offer that love to every precious person in the world. This is why I volunteer.

New Hope Volunteer Opportunity

September is rapidly approaching and TRAC is ramping up for another exciting year. This summer, our team, led by TRAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Andrea Rodriguez, has been working on partnering with local organizations to provide volunteer opportunities that fit all commitment levels.

New Hope Community Services is an organization working in Surrey that supports refugee claimants and immigrants through housing, employment, and community. TRAC is partnering with New Hope to establish a settlement team for a recently arrived Government Sponsored refugee family that is living at New Hope.

This opportunity is one of the most involved and rewarding volunteer opportunities available with TRAC. Walking alongside a recently arrived family is the most tangible way to experience mutual learning. TWU alumni Keith and Melissa Reed have taken the step of joining a settlement team to help a refugee family settle in Canada. This is what they have to say about their experience:

“In November of 2015, we were invited to be part of a group of Canadian families who had the goal of sponsoring a refugee family to come to Canada. We rarely follow local news stories and our knowledge of international events is limited, so we knew very little about the worldwide refugee crisis outside of the fact that there was one. However, as we discussed this invitation we knew that our family needed to take action. 

Our decision to be part of this sponsorship group is one that we have come to call a decision of cerebral obedience. In our minds, we knew that a worldwide refugee crisis demanded a response of some kind on our part. Our thoughts went to the teachings of Jesus who commanded His followers to love others as themselves and to serve the least of these. In our hearts we felt God calling us to respond in this particular way, so we obeyed.

We anticipated a lot of work and we prepared for it. Since our roles on the team were finances (Keith) and household goods (Melissa), we created spreadsheets and collected blankets, couches and dishes. Our minds were ready to do what needed to be done. Little did we know that when our sponsored family arrived in November 2016 that our cerebral obedience would turn into incredible joy. 

When our 6-year-old son learned that our group had finalized a rental suite for the family, something that all of us had been praying for, he joyfully shouted, “God did it!” Despite her expression in the picture, our 4-year-old adores their oldest daughter, loving to climb into her lap, hold her hand, and spend time with her. And this Christmas we were overjoyed to see the family set up a Christmas tree in their home for the first time in 4 years, below it carefully displayed a small nativity set that had travelled with them from Syria to Armenia to Lebanon and now their home in Canada.” - Keith ('03) and Melissa Kroeker ('03) Reed

Joining this team with New Hope is a substantial commitment. There will be challenges and there will also be unexplainable joys. By engaging in this opportunity, you have the ability to impact the lives of this family and the lives of the generations to come. It is also an opportunity to learn and grow in ways you can’t anticipate. Each position has unique responsibilities but the overall purpose of the entire settlement team is to develop relationships, and provide friendship and support for the family as they transition to a new country and culture.  

To learn about this volunteer opportunity, and other TRAC volunteer opportunities, visit our volunteer page. If you have questions email Andrea at volunteer.trac.twu@gmail.com.

Sponsorship Update!

Hello everybody,

Last Thursday, May 25 we received some very exciting news: we have been matched with a family of five from the Democratic Republic of the Congo! After being paired with a sponsorship group, families usually arrive 4-12 weeks later. This means that the TRAC team is eagerly preparing for the family to arrive, learning about the DRC, and practicing French and Swahili.

Our most immediate need before welcoming the family is finding suitable housing for a family of five. Numerous families have already reached out to offer furnishings and other necessities. Moving forward, we will continue to share ways you can get involved and release as much information about the family that is appropriate and available, but we are appreciative of any suggestions, insights, or donations!

While we anticipate many unexpected occurrences throughout this next phase of the sponsorship process we are so thankful that we have such a supportive and generous community behind us. Thank you for your continual support, you have made reaching this milestone a possibility!

Additionally, if you would like to “subscribe” to more frequent email updates from TRAC, please email us at trac.twu@gmail.com to be put on your email list.

With purpose and passion,



TRAC Stories: Tima Kurdi, finding hope in tragedy.

“Too many people had died in the war and we were still all silent,” Tima Kurdi said, “It took only one picture, of that little boy, to touch our humanity.”

Alan Kurdi is the child that became a symbol for the Syrian refugee crisis. His photo became so viral that it is almost impossible that you didn’t see it. A little 3-year-old who drowned with his mother and brother trying to get to Europe was now face down in the sand at a beach in Turkey. Dead, just like thousands of other innocent people that have lost their lives as a result of the Syrian war.

Tima Kurdi, Alan’s aunt, is a face of a refugee crisis that is often described with faceless numbers. She is a Syrian living in Coquitlam who fled her home country in 1992. After the Syrian war started in 2011, her family fled the country, just like millions of others in a similar position. On September 3rd, 2015, she received the news that her sister in law and two nephews had drowned.

Out of her pain, she found strength. She is now using her influence to speak for the millions of victims that remain hidden in history, becoming a strong advocate for Syrian refugees. But she isn’t simply revealing the incredibly tragic stories of the war. “I’m not here today to make you feel sorry for me and my family,” she said, “I am here to plant the seed of hope.”

When we received her in the NorthWest Auditorium, the night of the 12th of February, 2017 for the “Night of Stories” event we could all experience how powerful her message was. She stressed that while we cannot avoid tragedy, we must respond to it with open arms willing to help those who are suffering. “If I couldn’t save my own family, let’s save the others,” she said.

Tima is very serious and extremely committed. I approached her after the event, expressing my condolences for her still vivid suffering and my admiration for her advocacy work. She thanked me for the work TRAC was doing, but did not give much importance to my praise, as someone who is so committed to the people she is working for that she intentionally makes herself invisible.

Even though she has international recognition, she maintains a profile of simplicity and just raises her voice loud and clear when it’s needed, speaking on behalf of her people. She has met with Prime Ministers, Presidents, and international leaders. She has given Ted Talks and conferences globally. However, her business card still only lists her as a hair stylist, the profession she once had in Coquitlam.

“I am not responsible for those decisions [of opening the borders to refugees], I am not a politician, but my voice was heard,” she said. She is an example for most of us who tend to think that we are powerless and cannot make a difference because we are not in charge of the decision-making.

Turns out, we do have a decision: to speak up, stop being part of the silent majority, and start acting today, just as Tima did. Among other things, she created the “Alan and Ghalib Kurdi Foundation,” an organization that raises funds to provide nutritious food, medication, school supplies, and medication to children living in refugee camps.

After the event, Tima met with TRAC’s team. “Every time I tell my story it is very painful,” she said in tears, “I need at least a month of recovery after I give a speech like this.” But she keeps doing it for one reason: people need to hear her story and be inspired to make a change. Tima has used her painful experience to inspire strength and hope. Let’s embrace that hope and follow her example as we respond to the global refugee crisis.

If you are eager to get involved and to hear these words from her own mouth, consider attending tomorrow’s fundraiser. Tima is also in need of volunteers to help her with the “Alan and Ghalib Kurdi Foundation.” To hear more about these opportunities, please email trac.twu@gmail.com

-Emilio Rodríguez, TRAC’s journalist.

TRAC Update

Hello friends of TRAC!

Thank you so much for your support throughout the past four months. Each one of you has contributed to the development of TRAC and I am continually inspired by the generosity of the TWU community. Since our kick-off event on February 2, TRAC has grown in unimaginable ways. Summer break has provided an appreciated opportunity to reflect on the journey of TRAC, and I am excited to share with you what has taken place. I hope it encourages you and represents the tangible impact that your support has made in the lives of those who need it.


Since TRAC began, our main project has been to sponsor a refugee family in their first year of resettlement through a partnership with MCC. Initially, we intended to sponsor a family of six which required a fundraising goal of $34,000. We set out with big plans for how to raise these funds, but the generosity of our community blew everyone away. Throughout our initial months, we were engaged in a variety of events. These included our Kick-Off Event, a TRAC Night at TWU volleyball games, the Night of Stories, TRAC Day at a Pole Vault meet, Voices for TRAC, Fort-Printing Co.’s Launch, the SAMC disPLACE production, and a Year-End Party. These events allowed us to reach new audiences and to grow closer to our goal.

Another component of our fundraising efforts has included selling merchandise. We started off with an initial order of 22 t-shirts, and ended the semester having sold 376 pieces of merchandise, including t-shirts, hoodies, crewnecks, and baseball t-shirts! Every single piece of merchandise was hand folded and each order was personalized by name with a TRAC tag. All of the profits from these sales went directly to supporting our family.

Finally, we received constant donations through our online donation registry. Generous individuals contributed for no benefit, and we are so thankful to each and every one of our donors.

The money raised from events, merchandise sales, and donations has resulted in a total of $26,463.43. While this total is below our initial goal of $34,000, consultation with members of the refugee services community and other sponsorship groups led TRAC to change our family size from six to four. This was done to ensure that we provide resources responsibly and effectively and act within our means as a first-time sponsorship group. This smaller family size decreases the originally quoted financial sponsorship requirement, resulting in an amount which has been exceeded after raising $26,463.43.

Reaching and exceeding our goal is a major accomplishment for all of us, and I want to thank each of you that has made this possible. This milestone means that we are moving forward with the sponsorship process and we are working hard to be prepared for the family we will be blessed to do life with.


The volunteering component of TRAC is something we are excited to see continual growth in. We have developed relationships with a variety of fantastic organizations doing work locally and globally. These organizations include the Mennonite Central Committee, the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre, The Kurdi Foundation, KinBrace, PuCKS, Inasmuch, the Refugee and Immigrant Welcome Centre, and New Hope Community Services. We have supported these groups through teaching English, providing childcare, facility maintenance, fundraising and event support, and advertising. We have also connected with other sponsorship groups in the area and are moving towards providing friendship and English support for refugee children. To date, we have had approximately thirty volunteers working with different organizations.

This summer we will continue to have a variety of volunteer opportunities available for TWU students. We are also continuing to seek new partnership opportunities to volunteer locally. Whether you are local or live around the world there are options for you, if you are interested email us at volunteer.trac.twu@gmail.com.

Team Update

Our team has continued to grow since TRAC formed last fall. Each new addition is a talented, caring, and intelligent individual that is ready and eager to contribute their time to mobilize the TWU community in response to the refugee crisis. In total, there are 13 members of our leadership committee with varying responsibilities. We are looking forward to adding first years and others to the group in the fall.

The Future

Moving forward, TRAC is hoping to set-up a scholarship for students who arrived in Canada as refugees. While there is a lot of preliminary work yet to be done, we are hoping to arrange this project to keep the TWU community involved in fundraising and refugee relief.

With purpose and passion,

Jordan and the TRAC team

7 things you need to know about the refugee crisis

1. Why is it a “global” refugee crisis?

Although most attention is put on the Syrian refugee crisis, TRAC wants to emphasize that refugees are coming from all over the world. Displacement is a reality in many countries, even in the Americas. For this reason, TRAC has decided to sponsor a refugee family without preference to their origin.

In 2015, 53% of the world´s refugees came from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia[1]. These are all countries suffering from brutal wars. Refugees are also coming from Sudan, Congo DR, China, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and others[2].

2. What is a displaced person?

Displaced people are those who are forced to move from their locality or environment and occupational activities due to a number of factors that include armed conflict, natural disasters, famine, development and economic changes[3]. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)[4]. Perhaps the most alarming case is that of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), those who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. The number of IDPs is hard to measure, they are not eligible for protection under the same international system as refugees, and don´t have a single international body entrusted with their protection and assistance.

3. What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who is outside of their own country, has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable or unwilling to return[5]. To be considered a refugee, one must be outside their home country and be recognized under refugee status. Among the nearly 65.3 displaced people in the world, 21.3 million have refugee status, over half of whom are under the age of 18[6]. Although refugees themselves are already an area of concern, one must also think about the millions that are Internally Displaced and are not even recognized as refugees, and thus are not eligible for the same refugee protection.

*I must add that there are several shortcomings on this original definition of “refugee” taken after the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. These include the fact that people fleeing environmental conditions or natural disasters cannot receive refugee protection.  Regional instruments such as the “OAU Convention” and the “Cartagena Declaration on Refugees” have expanded the term. For more information on the issue please visit this article from the LSE

4. Who grants the refugee status?

Governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCF) have the primary responsibility of determining who is considered a refugee under international, regional or national law, through a legal process called Refugee Status Determination (RSDs)[7]. In 2013, UNHCR remained responsible for implementing the RSD procedure in more than 50 countries. In another 20 countries, UNHCR conducted RSDjointly with, or parallel to, the governments[8].

5. How many refugees have come to Canada?

From November 4, 2015, to January 29, 2017 Canada has received 40,081 refugees[9]. These come under three different categories: Government Assisted Refugees account for 54% of these refugees, Privately Sponsored refugees for 36% and Blended Visa Office-referred refugees for 10%. British Columbia receives approximately 1664 refugees each year. In 2015, B.C. received refugees from 17 different countries.

6. Under what category does TRAC fall under?

Government Assisted Refugees are those referred to the government by the UNHCR and supported financially by the government for up to one year. Privately Sponsored Refugees are those that are sponsored by a group of people in Canada who volunteer to help them adjust to life in Canada, which includes financial support for up to one year, and emotional and social support that goes further.

Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees are essentially a mix of both: the UNHCR matches refugees identified for resettlement with private sponsors in Canada. The Government provides 6 months of financial support, and the private sponsors provide for the other 6 months, as well as emotional and social support from the day they come to Canada. TRAC is a sponsorship group working under this category.

7. What does the Bible say about refugees?

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God”- Leviticus 19, 33-34 (NIV).

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt”- Exodus 23:9

"So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty”- Malachi 3:5

These are just a few Bible verses among the many that discuss the topic of the foreigner or the neighbour, and how we ought to love them. TRAC firmly believes that it is our Christian duty to care for the refugees in the world. One of the ways we show our love is by learning more about what these people are going through.

After knowing about the issues, we can pray, raise awareness, and act. Thank you for reading through this post. Please, be encouraged to research more about this topic following the links below, and if you want to be involved and contribute, make sure to contact us. Let´s keep spreading awareness and love.

God Bless,

Emilio Rodríguez



[1] UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”. http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] UNESCO, “Displaced person/Displacement”. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international-migration/glossary/displaced-person-displacement/

[4] UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”. http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[5] UNHCR, “Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees” http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf

[6]UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”.  http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[7]UNCHR, “Refugee Status Determination”. http://www.unhcr.org/refugee-status-determination.html

[8] Ibid.

[9] Government of Canada, “Refugees”. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/milestones.asp

Our Volunteering Experience

“Helping people because people matter” is the motto of the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre (MEFC). Its founders, Adel & Layla Masoud, are two of the most inspiring Christians I have met. They have their own story of hardship, fleeing from Kuwait and coming to Canada in 1997. Now, they feel called to share the love of God with newcomers by giving them a warm welcome to Canada.

The MEFC is a place where “Arabs can meet together, learn from one another, and help one another”. The visitors are mainly Arab newcomers, many of them refugees, who find in the center a safe space to build friendship and to receive help in a wide range of areas that go from job searching to assistance with Canadian tax forms.

Although the center is focused on Arabic culture, visitors from other backgrounds also attend the center. In the same way, volunteers are welcomed regardless of their cultural background, knowledge of Arabic culture, or proficiency in Arab—although any of these are great assets.

Several members of our community have been serving regularly in the MEFC this semester: Noah Bradley, Mary Kate Looby, Andrea Rodriguez, Amy Saya, Sarah Kazanowski, Jordan Koslowsky and myself. It feels like we have been welcomed into a new family where Layla, Adel, the whole staff and visitors of the center have received us with open arms offering their friendship.

We have volunteered by giving ESL classes, playing with the kids while their parents are studying, distributing the donations received, participating in padlocks and community meals and helping out with various chores in the center. Most importantly, we have met amazing people from very different backgrounds and unique stories who are seeking a new life in Canada.

Layla expressed her interest in having volunteers that come to the center for the right reasons: to share the love of Christ, offer their time in friendship and service for others, and treat the visitors with dignity and affection. We as volunteers leave behind the stereotypes, the “us versus them” mentality, or any “hero complex” that hinders the effectiveness of humanitarian efforts, and approach our service with humbleness and willingness to learn from them as well.

Noah Bradley, a 4th year TWU student, was our most active volunteer. He shares his experience while serving as an ESL teacher this semester:

The most valuable thing about teaching English at the MEFC was seeing the enthusiasm and laughter of the students while they were learning. Without those two things, I think the personal connection wouldn’t have been made. You could clearly see that they were happy to be there. I think that gave everyone joy and a special connection.

Joy, friendship, warmth and generosity are some of the things that make the MEFC a home for everyone that visits.

If you want to be a part of the Middle Eastern Friendship Center, here´s your chance! We need volunteers from the TWU community who are staying in the Lower Mainland for the summer and that feel call to give part of their time to share the love of Christ with this newcomers to Canada. Please email tractwu@gmail.com to get more information about your options.

-Emilio Rodríguez

As Christ Loves, We Should Love

March 15 marked the 6th year anniversary of the conflict that is still raging in Syria.  Since then, there have been over 5 million people who have fled the country.  Over the years, this refugee crisis has appeared in other countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia, among others.  Overall, about 11 million people have had to leave their homes to survive.  Thousands of these refugees die on their way to safer countries.  Many of those who have made it to safety have not been integrated into the society of their new home.

My name is Kristen Jones and I am a second year studying Applied Linguistics.  I was oblivious to what was happening with the refugee crisis until recently.  This year, I began to pay attention to what people were saying about this world crisis and I was ashamed that I had ignored this incredibly heart-breaking problem.  As I learned more about the crisis, my heart broke more and more.

I attended Missions Fest in January and sat in on a couple of seminars that spoke about the refugee crisis.  The statistics and stories and experiences were a wake-up call that I desperately needed.  This world is hurting, and I was doing nothing.

This semester, I felt like God was gently pushing me to do more with my time.  I had a new passion to invest myself in people.  And then I heard about TRAC.  I joined the team mid-March, and have been abundantly blessed through it.  God has given me a love for people that I’ve never met, and has handed me an opportunity to help those who need it.  I have learned that as believers, it is our job to notice and care for those who are hurting.  Not just because they need it, but also because through our service they can see God’s love.  Often the best way to share the gospel with someone is through loving them.

Rather than have a specific job on the TRAC team, I fill in where I am needed.  I love listening to people and walking with them through life, and I can’t wait to do this with the refugee family that our team will be sponsoring.  I am excited to work with my team to share Christ’s love and compassion for this family.

I encourage you to continue to read about the refugee crisis.  Don’t let it be good enough for you to just know that there is one.  Learn about it and let the words of people’s stories sink in and register deep in your heart.  I implore you, if you are a Christ follower, to learn more about this issue; and when you know more, let God use you to serve those in need.  We are each called to follow Christ’s example of caring for those in need.

-Kristen Jones