CLWR weekly prayer

clwr weekly prayer place filler
A prayer for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost and the coming week

Loving one, you call us to you in prayer, in those quiet moments when we can listen for your still, small voice. May all our prayers come from pure hearts, open to you and ready to receive your grace, peace, and love. May we, as your children, be an example to others of how to pray rightly, never demanding, but simply asking for that which you already know we need. Together, or separate, may we pray for each other and for all those needing to know you. Amen.

With thanks to Rev. Dyanna Noble-Couture from Nazareth Lutheran Church in Standard, AB for writing!

Strengthening Canada’s international assistance

CLWR is seeking your support to better meet the needs of those who are displaced and food-insecure

A message from Robert Granke, CLWR’s Executive Director

The Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (formerly CIDA) is undergoing a review of its international assistance programs. The aim of the review is to rethink Canada’s international assistance policies and programs to better respond to the challenges and opportunities of the new global context. As part of this review, Global Affairs Canada is soliciting feedback from Canadians­—including you!

As supporters of CLWR, we encourage you to submit your input into this process. CLWR is supportive of the Government of Canada’s efforts to review and renew its international assistance (IA) policy. In particular, we applaud the renewed focus on responding to the needs of displaced and vulnerable populations and how to best deliver results. Drawing on our organizational proficiency in the areas of sustainable development and humanitarian assistance, our submission focuses its feedback on three key areas:

  1. Responding to humanitarian crises and the needs of displaced populations,
  2. Clean economic growth and climate change, and
  3. Delivering results.

Click here to read a summary of our submission
Click here to read our full submission

In order to assist CLWR in meeting the needs of displaced and food insecure people, we are asking you to send a personal email to Global Affairs Canada outlining your support for the recommendations that CLWR has made. Submissions can be emailed to A suggested email template is provided below.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the work of CLWR.

Robert Granke
Executive Director

Email Template

Please copy and paste the note below into your e-mail program, add your name/signature at the bottom, and send it to As time permits, you are encouraged to modify this email with your own comments. If you don’t mind, let us know you’ve sent a letter by including in the BCC line. All letters/emails need to be sent in by July 31, 2016.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development:

Thank you for providing the opportunity to provide feedback regarding Canada’s international assistance policy. As someone who cares about providing increased support and assistance to the world’s most vulnerable people, I encourage the Government of Canada to focus its support on improving the well-being of and self-reliance among displaced and food-insecure populations in the developing world.

The number of people suffering from forced displacement continues to reach unprecedented levels, with an estimated 65.3 million displaced by the end of 2015. As 51 percent of those displaced are children, there is an urgent need to find effective strategies to meeting immediate needs while also assisting them to gain the skills and tools they will need to build a sustainable future.

In light of this challenge, I encourage the Government of Canada to:

  • Respond to those emergencies—often protracted in nature—that are not in the news. As of 2015, it was estimated that some 6.7 million refugees (41 percent of refugees overall) had been displaced from their home community for over five years.
  • Make humanitarian assistance funding available for multi-year projects to allow for continuity, increased efficiency, and decreased overhead.
  • Broaden the range of International Humanitarian Assistance funding to include activities that will build long-term resilience among displaced populations. Activities could include vocational training, agricultural training, psychosocial support, legal support, and the provision of economic opportunities.

Increased public investment in sustainable agricultural development is the key to meeting the needs of food insecure populations while also addressing climate change concerns. Small-scale farmers make up over 70 percent of those who are poor and food insecure in the developing world; in Africa, many of these poor farmers are women. Thus, investment in the livelihoods of small-scale farmers can contribute to a triple win for food security, climate change adaption and, in some cases, greenhouse gas mitigation. For this reason, I urge Canada to invest more in agricultural aid and to restore agricultural funding to the 2008-2010 levels of $450 million.

In keeping with the Canadian government’s focus on promoting women’s economic and social empowerment, a strong commitment should be made to supporting female small-scale farmers through: 1) improving women’s access to necessary agricultural resources, 2) ensuring women’s consultation within farming decisions, and 3) supporting women’s collective action in agriculture (including producer organizations, co-operatives, or savings and credit groups).

To accomplish these and the many other important goals, I believe Canada should also increase its overall international assistance. With the increase in conflict and natural disasters, millions of people are at risk of hunger. Responding to these needs will require more resources for humanitarian aid.

Thank you again for providing this opportunity to share my thoughts with you.


Ethiopia Drought Sit-Rep

While there are some encouraging signs that a break in the drought may be possible, the situation in Ethiopia is still critical in large portions of the country. Here is a sit-rep (situation report) from LWF-Ethiopia.

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The 2015 El Niño induced drought is unprecedented in scale and severity. 10.2  million people become food insecure and were forced to rely on relief assistance; 1.7 million farmers need emergency seed support to plant their plots in the upcoming 2016 rainy season;  and  654,000 livestock require emergency feed assistance[1]. The government of Ethiopia and the humanitarian actors are currently undertaking one of the biggest emergency response operations in the country.

The Lasta-Lalibela district has experienced series of drought over the years. The current drought triggered by El Niño weather phenomenon resulted in complete failure of Meher (main rainfall season) rains that followed the heels of poor Belg (short mid-year) rain. The predominantly subsistence agrarian based livelihoods of the communities has been seriously shattered by the prolonged drought that caused complete failure of crops and death of livestocks.

Agriculture in the area is almost entirely rain-fed, which increases its susceptibility to irregularities in the amount and distribution of rainfall. The Lasta-Lalibela district is categorized under priority one hotspot districts among the total 450 districts affected by drought in the country.

The 2016 Belg rain season has come and gone bearing no rain for this rain dependent Lasta district. The majority of the farmers in Lasta area have prepared and sown their farmlands in the current Belg season, but the rainfall distribution during the months of April to May was intermittent; and once again farmers are worried of whether they would be able to get a good harvest. The major type of crop farmers’ have sown was sorghum for its drought resistance.


LWF Ethiopia launched an emergency response project since February 2016. Currently, the project is benefiting a total of 4,292 drought affected people (Male 2,488 and Female 1,804) through the cash for work and direct support mechanisms. From the total number of the beneficiaries 1,472 (Female 875) are direct support and the remaining 2,820 (Female 929) are cash for work participants. Each beneficiary (both direct support and cash for work) earns 35 ETB per day for a total of 40 days (i.e. 1,400 ETB per individual). While addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities, the project also strives to respond to the underlying causes of vulnerability by engaging beneficiaries in the conservation of the natural resource base of the area. Through the cash for work scheme, the following soil conservation activities have been undertaken so far: 76.79 km of stone bund; 117.69 km of soil bund; 5,055.3 m3 of stone check dam; 1,716 micro-basin (half-moon) structures; 8.8 km access road maintenance in 8 project intervention Kebeles. Furthermore, the cash for work participants have also carried out clearing of 134 hectares of farmland from dangerous exotic weeds and bushes for the coming cropping season, as well as maintained 4 community ponds. A total of 1,533 people on average (432 female) have participated in cash for activities and a total of 82,358 person-days (26,669 female) have been generated up to the end of this reporting month.

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In order to minimize long-term vulnerability of farmers, the project supported the affected households with improved seeds for the upcoming growing season. A total of 186 quintals of improved seeds (Teff 56 Qtl, wheat 80 Qtl, and maize 50 Qtl) has been so far distributed to 3,360 households (504 women headed). Additional 100 quintal lentil seed is procured, and will be distributed to 500 beneficiaries in the month of July. The seed support, on top of addressing prolonged vulnerability, minimized the risk of negative coping strategies such as disposal of productive assets, and temporary migration as it creates hope and sense of confidence among the affected communities.

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Ato Abebe Desale from Nakutole’ab Kebele is one of the cash for work beneficiaries in the ongoing emergency response project. He is 46 years old and supports 7 family members. He explained that, he doesn’t have enough farmland, and has been struggling even during normal times as he had to rent-in land from labor poor households through sharecropping arrangement. His situation worsened in 2015 as his crops failed and livestock productivity declined due to lack of feed. The situation created frustration and apathy among the family members as life become extremely difficult. It was during this grim situation that LWF Ethiopia launched its emergency response operation in his area. Currently, Ato Abebe is one of the CFW program beneficiaries and also benefited from the seed support. Working as foreman for the physical soil and water conservation activities, he earned 3,400 ETB with which he bought food items for the family and fertilizer. He also received 25 kg of wheat seed to plant his plot in the coming growing season. In addition to meeting his family’s immediate needs, the support will minimize his continued vulnerability as he will be able to plant his farmland. In his own words, Ato Abebe explained that the support not only prevented family disintegration, but also creates hope and stability so far.

On the other hand, he also expressed concerns over the poor Belg rain distribution accompanied by heavy winds and high temperature that would potentially affect the ongoing agricultural practices in the area.

Thanks for the report LWF-Ethiopia,

Tom Brook, Community Relations Director


Open Ourselves to What God is Doing Next

If you are a pastor or congregational leader and have been concerned that if your congregation became involved in receiving a refugee family that all the work would fall on you, then I invite you to read this ecellent article from Pastor Carol Janke of Messiah Lutheran Church.

“I wasn’t at Messiah very long before some of the members told me about sponsoring a refugee family from Laos.  For many it was a wondrous experience of the living of God’s call on their lives —  to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and intentionally be present with people who need a helping hand on the journey of life.

Long before the Syrian refugee crisis there were people who would say we should do this again. So when the opportunity came to partner with NEST(a Winnipeg resettlement group)  it didn’t take very long to begin the work.

Here’s the wonderful part.  I cannot tell you the details of how a family was chosen, how needs were assessed, what the timeline of preparation was for getting goods, the apartment – things like that.  It is because my task as the pastor of Messiah was to prepare people’s minds and heart for this wondrous journey.  For as much as we wish that all our members were in one mind about important things such as this, it is not the case.  Not everyone felt we should spend time or money doing any of this.  Also there were some who felt that Canada should not have been so welcoming nor should the numbers of refugees increase.  Some believed that our tax dollars are for us, that our medical system can barely look after those of us already here.  That’s why when the text allowed for it, the call to care for others, particularly refugees showed up in my preaching.  If asked for my opinion about the Christian response to the refugee crisis, I gave it.  You would think that God’s preferential option for the poor and marginalized would be well known and lived in the church community, bud sadly it is not the case.

Here’s the thing.  If I would have spearheaded this project, and asked the congregation to be involved, there would be many that would say, “Well of course she wants to do it.  It’s her job to care for others.”

But when lay people are the ones doing so, it is a wonderful Christian witness.  They are not doing it because they have to.  They are doing it because they know that is what God has called us to, and it is important work.

Here are some of the things I said in sermons:

God has asked us to be part of the work of loving the world, and although it is the hardest thing we will ever do, we are to resist being cautious about it.  And we are to give up on worry.

That Jesus is not an insurance policy against suffering, betrayal and death, for we live in a broken world.  Instead with God’s help we can face what happens and act.

That the worst thing that could happen to us is to hold perfectly still and not change a thing until we turn into Christian fossils unable to be God’s people for the world.

That we often base what we believe on an understanding of scripture learned as a youth in confirmation class and that understanding has never been revisited in light of all the other knowledge and experience we have acquired.

That change is inevitable, and we are invited to grieve what has been and then open ourselves to what God is doing next.”


Carol Janke,  Pastor

Messiah Lutheran Church

Five for Rio

Great story from LWF-Kenya provided by Lennart Hernander
Program Representative
LWF World Service Kenya – Djibouti Program

Often referred to as “The Five from Kakuma,” they are 5 of the total 10 athletes who will be representing Refugees at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is still surreal to them how much attention they are getting. It all started when the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation with support from the International Olympics Committee and UNHCR started an initiative to get refugee athletes from all over the world to participate in the Olympic Games to promote peace.

Their Journey to Rio started in October, 2015 when they were among a group of 36 refugees selected from both Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya. After a second selection process, 28 refugees were moved to the Anita Youth Center, in Ngong near Nairobi where they have been staying as they train and prepare for the Olympics.

“We didn’t know much about Rio, but we were happy to be selected to come and train to represent the youths in the Camps,” Anjeline, one of the 5 says.

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After a few months of training some of the selected athletes dropped out for various reasons. The training however continued for 22 athletes. In April 2016, another selection was done in Kakuma and Dadaab Camps and 14 more athletes were added to the group, now totaling 36. It is from this group of 36 that 5 were picked to go to the Rio games.

We started from scratch, all of them were new to running as a sport but they have adjusted fast and we are proud of how far they have come, “John Anzhar, one of their coaches, explains.

Rio has many Champions, we don’t have much experience like them but we will do our best to win, “James another of the 5 says when asked about his chances.

It takes more than 2 years of training for athletes to be confident to participate in the Olympics and we have had less time than that, so we won’t be disappointed if they don’t win,” John says, “But we will have accomplished our mission which is to show to the world that Refugees are people like us and we can promote peace by uniting through sports.

The Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation hopes to keep this initiative around for more years to come, hoping to involve more youths from the refugee camps after the Olympics, and to continue to work with the 5 for coming events.

The 5 athletes show that refugees have capacities and talents in many areas, and given the opportunity they can excel. On World Refugee Day 2016, we celebrate their ability and wish them success in Rio a few months from now!


LWF support sports development in Kakuma Refugee Camp, promoting both boys and girls in a variety of sports. Sport provides opportunities for people to develop various skills, relaxation, physical training and also provides psychosocial wellbeing. Sports activities is one way for people to engage in positive activities within and outside of school or work, and can be used as a tool for child and youth protection by having supervised and organized activities for children and youth in safe environments.

Tom Brook Community Relations Director – CLWR


Bust the Myths about Refugees

Helping a person or family resettle in Canada after fleeing persecution and violence is a uniquely rewarding way to “welcome the stranger” and put faith into action. However, there are unfortunately many misconceptions about refugees and refugee sponsorship in Canada. We bust some of those myths here.

MYTH 1: Many so-called refugees are just looking for a better life.

MYTH 2: Canada is taking in too many refugees

MYTH 3: It’s easy to enter Canada as a refugee.

MYTH 4: Refugees have better health benefits than Canadians.

MYTH 5: Refugees are taking Canadian jobs.

MYTH 6: Refugees are charity cases.

MYTH 7: The refugee crisis is a big problem. I can’t make a difference



MYTH 1: Many so-called refugees are just looking for a better life.
FACT: Refugees are fleeing for their lives.

Often the terms “refugees” and “migrants” are erroneously mixed up or used interchangeably, but there are important differences between the two groups.

Immigrants are people who make a deliberate choice to leave their country, either for economic or employment opportunities.

Refugees are people who are forced to leave their countries because they have been persecuted because of their race, gender, religion, or due to war. No one chooses to be a refugee.

To put it into perspective, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are more than 60 million people worldwide displaced due to war, violence, conflict or human rights violations. This number includes: asylum seekers, refugees registered with the UNHCR, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), and Palestinians under United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) mandate. By mid-2015, the number of refugees reached an estimated 15.1 million—its highest level in 20 years! The Syrian conflict accounts for the increase of refugees in recent years, but there are also conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, South Sudan and Ukraine, along with deteriorating conditions and increasing persecution of minority groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Myanmar and Ethiopia, just to name a few.

People fleeing these crises are so desperate they are willing to make dangerous treks over land (where they can fall victim to human trafficking) and over water (on unsafe boats through treacherous seas) to seek protection. In the recent years, many thousands of people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean to get into Europe. For many people, the prospect of seeking safety in a European country is worth the risk of dying at sea because the alternative of staying in their country is much worse.

Furthermore, many refugees must live in refugee camps once they reach a country of asylum. These camps are often harsh living environments with limited medical and health resources as well as limited or non-existent opportunities for education or income generation. Food and water supplies are also scarce, and often there are problems with crime and security making these camps unsafe especially for women and children. Considering the conditions of these camps, it is hard to think of anyone choosing to live there. They must do so because they are desperate and cannot return to their homelands.



UNHCR Mid-Year Trends, June 2015:


Amnesty International, “Europe’s Sinking Shame”:

MYTH 2: Canada is taking in too many refugees.

FACT: Other countries resettle far more refugees than Canada.

It would seem that with the large number of Syrian refugees the Canadian government and private sponsors are resettling into the country that we are seeing an unprecedented number of refugees in our communities. The truth is, what Canada has taken in is comparatively low. While there are an estimated 4 million Syrian refugees who have fled their country, Canada has accepted 25,000 as Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs), and will admit tens of thousands as Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs).

Additionally, the majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in the Global South. According to UNHCR, by June 2015 the top ten refugee host countries were Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, Chad and Sudan.

By contrast, there are very few refugees who arrive in Canada each year. This is because Canada is difficult to get to. It is hard to obtain an entry visa, and Canada is a great distance from countries producing refugees such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Somalia, South Sudan etc.


UNHCR Mid-Year Trends, June 2015:

MYTH 3: It’s easy to enter Canada as a refugee.


FACT: Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to get refugee protection in Canada.

There are only three ways in which refugees come to Canada:

1) Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) are refugees who have UNHCR refugee recognition and have been approved for resettlement by Canadian visa offices abroad to be sponsored by the Canadian government. Sometimes they wait years, even decades in refugee camps before being allowed into the country.
2) Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) are refugees who are resettled to Canada by private citizens, such as groups or churches. These refugees must undergo a refugee status determination process overseas. If successful, they ware resettled to Canada. There is no guarantee they will be accepted to come to Canada. They must undergo immigration medical exams and security background checks. This process, however, is lengthy and can even take years. See visa office processing timelines here:
3) Refugee Claimants are asylum seekers who must go through a refugee status determination process after arriving in Canada asking to be recognized as refugees. They must undergo immigration medical exams and security background checks. If they are not found to be refugees or persons in need of protection, or if they are deemed inadmissible, they are deported from Canada.

Photo: Ismail was imprisoned and tortured in Sudan because of his ethnic background. He first escaped with his young family to Egypt, where it took three years for the family to be accepted and resettled in Canada. 


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada:


MYTH 4: Refugees have better health benefits than Canadians.

FACT: Most refugees have the same benefits as all Canadians.
 As soon as government- and privately-sponsored refugees arrive in Canada, they are permanent residents and are therefore eligible for provincial health care programs.

This is not the case for refugee claimants. They have limited Interim Federal Health Program coverage until they are accepted as refugees in Canada. Government and privately sponsored refugees also receive extended health benefits through the Interim Federal Health Program but only during the year they are being sponsored.

While it is true that some Canadians do not have access to extended health benefits, many Canadians have the option to purchase these benefits through private medical insurance provided by their employers. Moreover, Canadians on social assistance or disability can access extended health benefits provided by provincial social assistance programs.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

MYTH 5: Refugees are taking Canadian jobs.

FACT: It is difficult for refuges to find work.

When refugees arrive in Canada they do apply for jobs. At the same time, however, they are at a major disadvantage−they must learn adequate amounts of English to communicate with coworkers and clients, and employers often require Canadian work experience and references that refugees often don’t have. Often they must volunteer their time to practice conversational English and acquire Canadian references. It is a difficult few years for many refugees.

Even if they have English skills, refugees often take jobs most Canadians are less inclined to do such as janitorial services, childcare, and the food service industry. This is because they are often unable to work in their fields because their foreign credentials are not recognized. They take whatever unskilled job is available because they are desperate to provide for their families.

In addition, many resettled refugees must pay back thousands of dollars to the Canadian government for travel loans they received to pay for their flights to Canada. Refugee claimants must also pay for legal representation at their refugee hearings (if they are not eligible for Legal Aid) and hundreds of dollars for Permanent Residence applications. It is easy to see why they are willing to work hard at any job.



MYTH 6: Refugees are charity cases.

FACT: Refugees are hard-working people who have overcome great hardship.

The majority of refugees in Canada and abroad are educated and hard-working people whose education, profession or political opinions made them targets and resulted in their persecution. Others are from broad cross-sections of society, forced to flee from instability or war to save their lives.

In Canada, while refugees are learning English, adjusting to a new culture and climate, dealing with the loss of their loved ones and war trauma, they are working at entry-level jobs, paying taxes and contributing to the economy as consumers. They are strong people who have overcome human rights violations; they are survivors; and they are heroes.


Once refugees become more established, they contribute to the life of their communities. For instance, Albert Einstein, one of the world’s greatest scientific minds was a German refugee who fled to the USA. In Canada, the MP for the Peterborough–Kawartha Ontario riding and cabinet minister, Maryam Monsef, is a former refugee from Afghanistan. More recently, there are many reports of former refugees “paying it forward” and helping other refugees. You can read about these stories here:;


Photo: Tsige* (second from right) was imprisoned and tortured in her home country because of her ethnic background. Just days after arriving in Canada she enrolled in school and was looking for volunteer opportunities in her new community.

*not her real name


Keep It Real, University of Pittsburg:




MYTH 7: The refugee crisis is a big problem. I can’t make a difference.
FACT: There are many ways you can help!


It is an unfortunate truth that there are many refugee crises in the world. The main reason why people become refugees is because of situations beyond their control, like war, genocide, persecution based on ethnicity, gender or religion. These are situations that are political and on a large scale, and require much time and political power to resolve.

However, that doesn’t mean one person can’t make a difference. Even the smallest deed can have a major impact in the lives of refugees.

Just by being aware and concerned about the refugee crisis is important because that’s what causes people to take action. You can take action in many ways by:

  • Educating yourself and others about the global refugee crisis and refugee settlement issues
  • Befriending refugees in your community
  • Making We Care kits and blankets to send overseas to refugee camps
  • Donating to refugee relief agencies like CLWR
  • Being a refugee sponsor in Canada
  • Praying for refugees and peaceful resolution to conflict areas

All Joy and Peace

Here are two reports from the Alberta and the Territories Synod about some activities concerning Fort McMurray Wildfire Evacuees.

Gathering of Current and Former Members of Christ the King Lutheran, Ft. McMurray.  (Source: Cathy Kochendorfer)

This past Saturday, May 28, Bishop Larry and Cathy Kochendorfer gathered with current and formers members of Christ the King Lutheran, Ft. McMurray at an acreage near Rochester (south of Athabasca) for a worship service, feast and farewell to Pastor Susan and Cliff Horton (retiring at the end of June).

The worship included the baptism of an infant (previously the baptism had been set for June 5 in Ft. McMurray) which was a wonderful reminder of God’s loving presence and embrace of all through the Water and Word of our Baptism; we were fed and nurtured through the Word proclaimed by Pastor Susan and in the bread and wine – Christ’s very body and blood; and encouragement and support abounded as stories and experiences were shared during an incredible feast and as gratitude was expressed to the Hortons.

Your continuing prayers for all those touched by this devastation are appreciated.

 Worship – for those touched by devastation (source: Bishop Larry Kochendorfer)

Bishop Larry Kochendorfer and the Synod of Alberta and the Territory hosted a service for those touched by devastation on May 10, one week after wildfires destroyed areas of Ft. McMurray.

This time of prayer and candlelighting using an evening prayer service, Holden Evening Prayer, was a welcome gathering for many from across the Synod and for those from Christ the King Lutheran congregation, Ft. McMurray.