For these Syrians, church members have become ‘a second family.’
First Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press
Second Place, Best Reporter portfolio, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
ST. CATHARINES, Ontario — Ten-year-old Mohammed and his sister Miriam, 6, shriek with excitement when they hear knocking at the front door.
The pint-sized Syrian refugees are expecting Jori Warren, one of a handful of Canadian church members bringing meals while the children’s mother, Samia, recovers from gallbladder surgery.
“Jori!” Mohammed exclaims as he jumps up. “I’ll get it.”
“No!” Miriam protests. “I want to get it.”
The brother and sister trip over each other as they run to answer the door.
A year ago, two Churches of Christ south of Toronto — their hearts touched by the plight of strangers abroad and resolved to show the love of Jesus — sponsored the Faham Katan family’s resettlement to Canada.
In the United States, new President Donald Trump’s push to bar refugees from Muslim-majority nations deemed terrorism threats — including Syria — has dominated headlines.
But here in Canada, the government has welcomed more than 40,000 men, women and children fleeing Syria’s civil war since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s October 2015 election.
On this recent Saturday — with Mohammed, Miriam and their four other sisters all home from school — the Faham Katan household buzzes with chatter and laughter.
In the living room, the Muslim father, Moamar, 44, visits with minister Noel Walker and his wife, Julie, from the Tintern Church of Christ, which joined with the Beamsville Church of Christ to help the family start a new life here in Canada’s Niagara region.
A hijab covers the head of 18-year-old Samira — the oldest sister — as she serves tiny cups of expresso to the family’s guests.
This story appears in the April 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.