February 23, 2022
Who Is My Neighbour? Rev. Kim Sabourin – Luke 10:25-37
Listen to last week’s sermon: Who Is My Neighbour by Rev. Kim Sabourin – Luke 10:25-37
On February 20, 2022, Pastor Eric announced that New Beginning Church has partnered with Safe Families Ottawa, an organization that hosts vulnerable children in the homes of volunteer families and provides support to families in crisis. The establishment of a partnership between New Beginning Church and Safe Families Ottawa will enable us to better serve the Prescott-Russell community. He then introduced Reverend Kim Sabourin, the Regional Director of Safe Families Ottawa, whose entire career has been dedicated to family issues. Shortly thereafter, she took the pulpit and addressed the congregation.
Pastor Kim began her presentation with a brief teaching from God’s Word, then shared the calling God has given her and how we can get involved.
We have witnessed unprecedented events in the Nation’s Capital, this week in particular, that we never imagined would occur. All that can be shaken is being shaken. In spite of this, we remain firmly anchored in Christ and we place our hope in Him. While none of us are immune to the storms of life, today, more than ever, we have the privilege of pointing people to Christ. It is our responsibility as a church to do so.
Read Luke 10:25-29
Who is my neighbour?
Our solution cannot be effective if we are not in close proximity to the problem. As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to be present in times of difficulty. From a distance, we are unable to discern what is really important. Furthermore, God commands us to love our neighbours as ourselves. Over the course of the pandemic, all of us have had to forfeit our privileges for the sake of the common good. We have been asked to demonstrate greater compassion toward the vulnerable members of our community. Today, we continue to wear masks because we care for them.
Compassion is one of Safe Families’ core values. Its mission is to provide a supportive network for children and families in need, by matching them with host families who provide support. Safe Families screens and trains its volunteers and invites us to commit for one year. We all know that a lack of compassion can corrupt the moral values of communities and nations alike. Without compassion, we focus on ourselves and on our individual rights, rather than on our community. As followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to demonstrate compassion towards others.
Relevant: Who Is Your Neighbour
Read John 13:35
The goal of protecting the vulnerable is not to become the hero of the story. Rather, it is to serve as one of the means by which God reconciles and draws others to Himself. In the Bible, Jesus shows compassion and provides assistance to vulnerable individuals. These include the forgotten, the outcasts, the broken, the struggling, and the socially marginalized. Every one of us is vulnerable in some way. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and we can love because he first loved us.
Safe Families provides a family-like environment in which parents experiencing difficulties can find care, compassion, and support. Many of the families this organization serves are socially isolated and have never experienced such love. They struggle alone. Many children grow up without fathers, mothers, or any form of extended family. Children in families experiencing a crisis are at risk of abuse and neglect, which can result in conflict with the law, foster care, substance abuse, and sex trafficking.
Safe Families Ottawa’s mission is to reach out to families before their circumstances become critical enough to require the intervention of child welfare services and before actual abuse, neglect or trauma occurs. In light of this, some Christians began asking themselves whether anything could be done to prevent child abuse and neglect, so that child welfare agencies, such as the Children’s Aid Society, would not need to intervene. Given that child welfare agencies cannot intervene until a child has experienced abuse or neglect, Safe Families wanted to assist these families before their circumstances worsened.
It is the responsibility of the Children’s Aid Society to intervene in cases of abuse and neglect of children under the age of 16. However, for those who work with Safe Families and who are deeply concerned about the lives of children, it’s too late. This type of trauma has a lasting impact. The number of people answering the call and opening their homes to children in need has decreased in recent years. This has significantly impacted the child welfare system.
Safe Families has witnessed first-hand the plight of children who have grown up in foster care or group homes. These children don’t have a family of their own, a role model, or any type of support system. Therefore, they are not adopted. As a result, they either find themselves in serious trouble or with an unplanned pregnancy, and the cycle continues. They are being set up for failure. Without Safe Families’ involvement, the children assisted would have been in the same predicament. Shouldn’t we as a church do our utmost to aid them as well?
Read James 1:27
The world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by the way we care and love one another.
According to Dr. Michelle Ward, pediatrician and Medical Director for Child and Youth Protection at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), serious maltreatment and injuries to children have increased as a result of the pandemic. During this period of complete isolation, the importance of community support for families was evident. The recent government-imposed lockdowns and school closures have further exacerbated the isolation problem. As reported by Elizabeth Haines in the Ottawa Sun, CHEO officials also reported an alarming increase in infant injuries during the pandemic.
Despite being urged to seek support, stressed-out parents did not know what to do or where to turn for help. It is precisely for this reason Safe Families was established: to provide assistance to families and individuals dealing with medical emergencies, homelessness, migration, addiction, domestic violence, newborns, and human trafficking. Through Safe Families, we see God’s hand at work in healing precious families.
One of the most rewarding experiences in one’s life is to witness how a suffering family finds hope and regains their dignity as a result of the compassion and dedication of volunteers who demonstrate Christ’s love. Consequently, several traumatized mothers have come to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Some also began attending church services and taking part in Bible studies. God completely transformed their lives and their eternal destiny through the help of volunteers. Helping families is an act of obedience to our loving heavenly Father who shows us mercy and commands us to reciprocate that mercy toward one another. Throughout His Word, God commands us to care for the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, the imprisoned, the trafficked, and the poor. The Bible also instructs us to extend hospitality and love to strangers.
Who is our neighbour? It may be someone we don’t even know.
The enemy is robbing families. He is attempting to steal, kill, and destroy the destinies of children in our community. The Word of God exhorts us to be near those who suffer and are in pain. Jesus is our example. As we love our neighbours, we live a purposeful and impactful life. Jesus’ words for us today are to “go and do likewise”.
Pastor Kim urges us to follow God’s leading and to do whatever He instructs us to do. Serving as a mentor to needy children and youth, volunteering with Safe Families, being a friend, or offering our time or talent in the Prescott-Russell community is an excellent place to start. The possibilities are endless. Pastor Kim hopes we will recognize the major role we can play in helping those in need in our community.
The purpose of Safe Families is twofold: to prevent child abuse and to prevent children from being forcibly removed from their homes. According to Pastor Kim, several community organizations have expressed that Safe Families is exactly what this region needs. The organization is addressing these very real concerns.
While many families are doing all the right things, they are just one crisis away from being thrown into severe instability.
Are we willing to make a difference?
Watch video here