The tables were full at the Kemptville Christian Reformed Church on Monday night to hear Samer Kandalaft of Saint Paul’s Presbyterian Church and his wife Shahrzad Kandalaft speak about what life is like for Christians in the Middle East. Samer is from Syria while Shahrzad is from Iran. They met while they were both students in the seminary in Lebanon. Samer and Shahrzad spoke about how difficult it is to be a Christian in both Syria and Iran. Many forms of persecution are used against Christians by the dictatorial regimes as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and can be as serious as imprisonment, torture and even death.
After their talk there was a question and answer period where some people raised concern over the likelihood of Canada taking on a significant number of refugees from these areas, many of whom would be of the Muslim faith. Samer was quick to clarify that most Muslims are moderate, kind, well meaning people who do not pose a threat to our country. He did say however that he believes Canada should be reconsidering the speed and number of refugees they take in at a time. In order for the refugee effort to be successful we need to offer them support, guidance and education in terms of our language, culture and climate. Samer believes the best thing we can do as a community is to support Syrian refugee families and raise money to help the organizations which are on the ground in Syria and other war-torn Middle Eastern countries. These organizations include: the Canadian Food Grains Bank, World Vision and Doctors without Borders.