Many Syrian refugees have arrived in Toronto in recent years, with a high percentage of them residing within walking distance of the 105 Gibson Centre. By serving them through the Food Bank, Lok-Ping reflects on the true meaning of serving.
We all have our comfort zones and a natural tendency to associate with people from similar cultural, religious and educational backgrounds. When we find ourselves in a position to serve others, we may easily perceive ourselves as givers and them as takers, which leads to an unbalanced relationship. Lok-Ping believes the essence of serving is to cultivate relationships and build friendships with those in need – talking with them, spending time together, and listening to their life stories.
Around 100 clients visit the food bank every month. 60-70% of them are former refugees living in our neighbourhood and they usually walk here. The Food bank is a great entry point to get to know them and build friendship with them. By having their physical needs met, they can feel our care and acceptance. Even though language and cultural differences may pose many challenges, prejudice and fear can be overcome through communication and mutual understanding.
In light of these needs, the Food Bank had initiated two new programs this summer. The ESL Café and Friendship Kitchen were meant to share the message of peace with our clients while continuing to build relationships. We encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and get to know someone from a different background. This is not an easy task and there will likely be some discomfort and fear in encountering strangers. However, as Christians, we have to love and serve others as Jesus Christ had loved us.