Finding New Hope In Finland
By: Fargo Bcn
Meet two good friends whom you would like to hang around with; despite having particular difficulty "overcoming the language barrier". A very normal encounter among different people like many of us coming from foreign countries and having to learn to speak a new language apart from our own mother tongue. Two promising young adults who have come from a long journey to Tampere to make a fresh start. Sedad is 24 and Ahmad is 21 when they arrived in Finland in 2015. Just like any of us, they both have their simple dreams and aspirations. After over a month of getting to know them better; from their regular visits to our little multicultural congregation and their interests in learning English twice a week, it encouraged me to make things different for them. Both being shy, sincere, and humble, I'm grateful they're the kind of people who can get along easily. It's quite amazing to feel the good vibes between us. Not so surprising that I got to trust them both in such a short time and I believe they trust me as well in return.
As asylum seekers who hail from Mosul and from Iraq-Kurdistan, each of them have their own struggles and stories to tell about their homeland and family life situation. Knowing Kurdistan as a semi-autonomous region within a united Iraq, I have my sympathy for how the Kurdish fought for autonomy to govern their own government over the past decades. Sad though that this one consistent bright land, a nation that appeared to be a prosperous and democratic Kurdish region in northern Iraq is no better than its neighbors. Now a region disturbed and experiencing severe conflicts, fighting, and war. True, the notion that Iraqi Kurdistan was merely a semi-autonomous region within a united Iraq was little more than a convenient diplomatic fiction. The reality was that Kurdistan was an independent state in everything but name. To add, the rise of ISIS is only the most recent and devastating manifestation that has greatly affected the Kurdish nation.
Listening to Ahmad and Sedad's story is an unspeakable experience one can ever imagine. I bet no one would like to encounter the fear, the hunger, the sleepless nights, and the hardship they went through. Imagine crossing the many dangerous borders by foot, risking their lives to sail the deadly sea, and escaping from all dangers to survive. One can always question, "Why to leave your country and family in that condition?" Yes, we may have our own reasons to ask but these people have the right to survival just as we do. In this broken world where anyone is going through pains and suffering, which leaves many lives uncertain, we can't help but pray that we could be more compassionate and be sensitive to the needs of others. No one is a stranger to God. It's okay to doubt but it's NOT okay to give chances to people who deserve a safe refuge, peaceful community, and brighter tomorrow. It's the small act of kindness that we give to strangers that help change the world to a better state for the human race.
This is how we all started. Taking time to listen and appreciate a foreign language is fun. A key to love, understand and learn how to speak English easy. (Photo taken at the Parish house, Näsilinnankatu).
Starting a new community in Tampere. Sedad and Ahmad pose with Finnish friends, Kati and Leena during the Christmas Carol service at Vanha kirkko. Helping them adopt to the Finnish culture, Leena helps in organizing activities aside from teaching Finnish and English lessons once a week.
It's LOVE that brought us together underneath the Christmas tree. Celebrating together, Sedad and Ahmad's first Christmas in Finland in a homely atmosphere in Hervanta.
ICCK- It's About Family
By: Fargo Bcn
Becoming a volunteer teacher to the Sunday school has been one of the best experience I encountered at ICCK. Being with the children, story telling, greeting the happy faces of every parent who brings their child to the children fellowship is a joyful feeling! Truly a place where each child make friends and experience the love of God regardless of color, race and language each one has. Every child is free to "wonder" If God is black, white, yellow, red or brown.
Three years ago, starting a new life in Finland was not easy for me. I needed to start from ground to up. After few weeks of finding an international church that has English service, finally I found this multicultural congregation through the net. From my first Sunday visit I knew in my heart that it has become a home to me. A place I run to when I need a word of encouragement and when I need to feel safe and where I can call a family.
How do you describe this thing that pulls you into its web? The International Congregation of Christ the King- Tampere as most calls it, the ICCK. Many people who came the first time are encouraged to go back and become a part of the church family. Yes, many consider it their family-their home, their place of belonging every Sunday. Men, women, young and old, foreign students and children who speaks Finnish, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Arabic, Tagalog, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, African, Urdo, Hindi, English and many other languages gather each Sunday to celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ. More than twelve countries from around the world are represented. It´s almost like a mini United Nations. And ¨united¨ really what they are. The political divisions that seem so troublesome around the world move to the background as people come together as ¨brother¨and ¨sisters¨ in the family called ICCK.
When you´re away from home and your family, there are two things I think you miss the most- the food from home and hearing your mother tongue. ICCK is a truly home away from home where people will often get together to celebrate their food, their language and share God´s love. Truly grateful to belong in this multicultural congregation in Tampere.
Most of us are looking for answers to the meaning of life. Some of us have come to this country not by accident but for a reason. We may have visited to Lourdes, France to experience miracles. Some might have traveled to Tibet or China to see if the wise men in that mysterious place can shed some light on how to live and know inner peace. We may just be passing by as a tourist, coming to work, or to study in this country. ICCK for many is a journey. We come from traditions that were important to our parents but seem to have little meaning to us. Not having the luxury of choosing our brand of religion from back home, we find ourselves drawn into this collection of people from all over the world that are also on a spiritual journey. People with different religious backgrounds but sharing the same understanding of God's boundless love. The International Congregation of Christ the King- it´s about family, it´s about home, it´s about a journey, but most importantly it´s about God.
by: Oscar Njumba
Dear brethren in Christ, today we read and hear headlines of beating drums of war in many parts of the world, the economic collapse in many countries and worst of all the growing intolerance for the Church’s moral positions. Do you still have hope in God? How do you feel this hope today?
In my opinion, hope is so much more than simply “positive words.” In fact, the words are merely invitations. Christ’s three year ministry was one of invitation, but the actual hope was conceived on the Cross. This for me dear friends, is the path of authentic hope for you and I in these times.
Hope comes from a living and intense relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not just knowing about Him, but knowing Him. Many people today and perhaps some of us are chasing after prophecies of the future and have forgotten to spare enough time to pray and build a valuable relationship with God. Let us remember that hope springs from an on-going encounter with God through a life lived for Him and Him alone. When we pray properly, we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and to our fellow human beings. In doing this, we become capable of the great hope and ministers of hope for others.
If we continue to hold back from God’s commandments, keep a part of ourselves out of His reach and the reach of our neighbour, the result is nothing than losing hope. Every time we sin, we lose a little hope because we have ceased following Him who is Hope itself.
The authentic hope we seek today cannot live in us except we start following seriously Christ’s pattern of life. This is no time to hold back any longer, to keep a part of you to yourself. Give everything to God, no matter the cost. And the more it costs, the more powerful the grace, reward, and resurrection of Jesus in your life in whose image you are being renewed.
We cannot hide the fact that many threatening clouds are gathering on the horizon. We must not, however, lose heart; rather we must keep the flame of hope alive in our hearts. In the name of God, I urge you not let yourselves be robbed of hope and to remain faithful in Christ.
Thank you and remain blessed.