Ten Years, Ten Things I’ve Learned

Posted by on Nov 23, 2017 in Newsletters | Comments Off



It’s been ten years since I, Sharon Schmidt, was sent by Glencairn Church to serve refugees at Welcome Home Refugee House, right here in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Who knew that this is where I’d be a decade later, loving this opportunity to serve God more than ever!



As you can imagine, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and with your permission, here are ten of them:

  1.  Humility- I am NOT God’s gift to refugees.  I’m a bit embarrassed to remember how arrogant and full of self I was in 2007.  Humility and respect will get me a lot further in launching trusting relationships.3bda91c1-8fb1-4f3f-a8cc-18b01f8d3532
  2. Brokenness- My marriage ended soon after I started at Welcome Home and I wondered if it would disqualify me for ministry. On the contrary, I’ve learned my own brokenness paves the way for me to be more humble and real, and helps me identify with refugees better than my need to have it all together.
  3. Claims- EVERY refugee has to make a claim somewhere.  After fleeing their country, a person receives refugee status by an official agency that often takes at least two years to verify their claim, whether here or with the UNHCR overseas.
  4. First Hand Experience- The 2012 Learning Trip you helped me take to Rwanda and Kenya, including a 3 day visit to a refugee P1060517camp, was the best investment God led me to make in understanding more about the worlds and experiences refugees come from.
  5. Multi-Faith- I’m also embarrassed to say that my staff and I only really started digging into how to share Jesus with Muslims in the last 2 years.  We’ve learned so much through an online university level course, “Jesus in a Muslim Context”. Contact me if you want to know more.
  6. Perspective- I never stop seeing my life in a new way.  I’m much less inclined to take what I have and know for granted, or to feel entitled to all I’ve been given because my grandfather courageously started over again in Canada in the 1920’s.
  7. No Burn-Out- If a screaming passion for justice is what gets me up in the morning, I’d better look for sustainability in personal wellness, spiritual intimacy, and life balance.  You prayer partners, donors, friends, family and church partners who’ve walked with me have made all the difference.  It’s HIS work- we get to join Him, to HIS glory!
  8. History- Why do Eritreans love Pasta and Nutella?Nutella-nutella-8463203-600-600 Colonialism is something I should have learned about.  I’m still seeing the devastating ramifications to this day.
  9. Learning- Even after ten years, I’m always learning something new.
    1. The worlds that refugees share with me are mind-bogglingly wonderful.  Since the countries they come from change according to the crises in our world, there’s always more to explore.
    2. The constantly changing political landscape in Canada and around the world keeps me on my toes.
    3. The interns who comprise half of my team bring fresh perspectives, skills, education and ideas of a generation much younger than me.
    4. The colleagues we work with locally, nationally and internationally sharpen our tools.
  10. The End Goal- Though a chance at a safe and free life in Canada is a wonderful gift for each of our refugee friends, even better is a chance to meet Jesus no matter where they end up living. 74c34858-1950-429c-b885-9ba727baad20