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The Beauty of Mosaics

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By Paula Shore*

Paula and her husband Art are RMM workers among the immigrant community in the Waterloo region of Ontario. God is opening up many opportunities for them to live among, learn from, and love their neighbors from around the world.

Having lived in the Middle East for a period of time, I have come to appreciate and enjoy mosaics, the beautiful images and designs made from small pieces of different colors. These wide varieties of minuscule pieces combine to tell stories which widen the world of the viewer. Our multicultural neighborhood, too, is a mosaic of many cultures and races and we feel privileged to be a surrounded by this diverse richness.

Since October, we have been house-sitting for friends who chose this neighborhood in order to reach out to this “mosaic” community; opening their home as a “House of Prayer for All Nations.” Two local Kurdish families we have become acquainted with have, on occasion, requested prayer for their extended families’ needs and, more recently, have been joining us on Sunday evenings for prayer, worship and reading of the Word together. What an exciting time as we explore the great stories of Jesus, currently in Matthew. Several weeks ago, one Sunday evening, without warning our front door opened and in walked a man we had never seen before. “I am here for the meeting,” he announced. (Another member of our group had invited this Bangladeshi man without notifying us.) At our last gathering, another Kurdish lady joined us for the first time, along with her Korean friend.

During the Harvest and Christmas seasons we invited our neighborhood to the local community center for a potluck meal. There were activities for the children, special music, a short presentation of the message of Jesus' coming (at Christmas), along with a rich assortment of delicious food and some great fellowship. Those evenings were great opportunities to become acquainted with many of our neighbors.

Two months ago one of the Kurdish couples from Iran experienced the birth of their first baby. Since they do not have any family here in Canada, we became family for them, and I spent most of the next two weeks in and out of their home. The mother had a long and difficult recovery and it was a privilege to support her and the baby at this exciting but rather lonely time of their lives. Imagine the excitement of your first child, but with no family to celebrate it with! Communication was difficult as the mother’s English is very limited and our Persian and Kurdish are nonexistent. We did discover, however, that the Turkish language has borrowed from the Persian language, and sometimes we found words in common. "We understood how much the support meant to this new mother when one day, in her broken English, she said to me, 'You my sister, my friend, my mother, and I love you!'"Yes, there were many amusing moments in this whole process. Because of the language challenges, the visits to the doctor seemed rather overwhelming, so the parents asked me to accompany them. We understood how much the support meant to this new mother when one day, in her broken English, she said to me, “You my sister, my friend, my mother, and I love you!”

We planned a baby shower with a number of church friends. Each friend brought pictures to show and tell about their own families. The new mother took an interest in each family. When it was her turn to talk about her family, she stated with some emotion, “Canada, no family… you my family.” She seemed so grateful for her newly-found friends.

Newroz, the Kurdish New Year is an important celebration for Kurds around the world. Our city hosted this lively and colorful event for their people in Southwestern Ontario on the 22nd of March. Perhaps a thousand Kurds in the region joined in this extended time of music, dancing and tea drinking. Art was privileged to experience this event with our friend while I stayed with the new mom and her baby.

Recently we had an incredible experience. Shortly after we left our house for a walk in the neighborhood, a block down the street we met M, an Iranian believer we had met four years ago but not heard from since. Ten years ago he had escaped from Iran, later becoming a follower of Jesus in Turkey. He joined a one-year discipleship program and, along with a group of students, did a week-long service project in our city, staying in our home. Following the discipleship program, he had started a fellowship for Iranian refugees in his city in Central Anatolia; it continues to grow since his departure, now numbering approximately eighty people. After many applications (and rejections) to go to the West, he surrendered that dream. Then last year, unexpectedly a church from Ontario sponsored him and brought to this country. After nine months, he moved to our city for another job, renting an apartment less than two blocks from our house. He had no idea where we were; we had not heard from him since our time together in 2010. Since then, he has joined our house fellowship, and at times during our Bible study he reads the passage from his Persian Bible for our Iranian friends. What a miracle that God has brought this man to our neighborhood! It was through the witness of a Kurdish believer in Turkey that M was introduced to Jesus and now he is doing the same for Kurds from his home country here in Canada.

Recently the family with the new baby hosted a huge picnic in the local park in honor of the birth of their son. There were four Kurdish/Iranian families and a large Afghani family plus a few Canadians there. It was a full day of great kebab, many cups of tea, and good fellowship. We had a wonderful day together; we needed to remind ourselves that we were in Canada, not the Middle East.

Our city hosts an annual Multicultural Festival in June. That festival is a mosaic of colors, sounds, flavors and sights. Many cultures are represented with great food, concerts, dancing, arts and crafts, as well as numerous faith groups doing outreach. We were involved with a tent where we were giving out Bibles in a number of languages, and sharing and praying with people as God gave opportunity. Our message is that Christ is for all the people groups of the world. We trust the Word will bear fruit.

We marvel at the receptivity of our Kurdish and Iranian friends and at what God is doing among their people, both in their home country and among the diaspora. Pray that God may use these people who have suffered so much to bring the Good News to the entire Middle East.

Our lives have been enriched by the beauty of this cultural mosaic in our city and neighborhood. What a great opportunity to become family for these displaced friends and invite them to our great big eternal family... the one that knows no language, race or color.

*Names changed for security reasons.