House of Omeed

Lorna Johnston /Monday, December 14, 2020

 

Tucked away in a mini-mall slated for demolition on the boundary between Burnaby and Coquitlam is a thriving pulse of activity, ministry, community building, friendship and Kingdom of God witness—the House of Omeed. The culmination of dreams, ideas, plans, and inspiration, this physical space is the hub for an ever-growing ministry initiative to benefit the community.

“Omeed” is Persian for “Hope”, and the House of Omeed exists to inspire hope in the hearts of refugees and newcomers to Canada as they make the necessary huge adjustment to their lives now transplanted into a new, unfamiliar, and often incomprehensible society.

A Story of Miracles

Established in 2016, from the very beginning the existence of the House of Omeed has been a story of miracles. Some examples:

  • Securing a large physical space in an up-and-coming neighbourhood on the budget of a start-up non-profit ministry.
  • Finding 12 churches to serve as the foundational pillars, by each underwriting a month’s rent.
  • Building a diverse and skilled network of volunteers fluent in English, Farsi, Arabic, Turkish and more, who love people and love Jesus Christ.
  • Being offered a second space, again at a manageable price, so that more could be done to serve the community.

Perhaps the biggest miracle of all is that the founder and director of the House of Omeed, Ahmad Zeividavi, is a blind man who came to Canada as a refugee himself. Now married, with two young children, he draws on his own experience of God’s love of the alien and stranger to model the servant-hearted posture evident in everything done by the House of Omeed team.

I imagine that some of the many clients who walk through the door feel that they’re encountering a miracle too. Where else have they found the support, help and community that they’ve been looking for? Who else has listened to their needs and found ways to meet them?

From ESL classes, helping with government paperwork, summer programs for kids, help finding housing, food safe training, music lessons, and more…the House of Omeed has sought to serve the diverse and changing needs of their community as faithful representatives of Jesus Christ.

They hold firmly to the teaching of Jesus found in Matthew 25:40, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Responding to COVID

Given their track-record, it's not surprising, on a recent visit in the middle of Covid restrictions, to find that the staff and volunteers are as busy as ever. In fact, perhaps they’re busier than ever, as they tackle the needs of the community in a way that complies with public health directives.

When the pandemic hit, the clientele of the House of Omeed were some of the most vulnerable to its financial and social impact.

  • Many, recently arrived in Canada, hadn’t had time to build a resilient social safety net able to help them weather this storm.
  • Many worked in restaurants, which were almost immediately closed, or were working casual jobs that were the first cut.
  • Either way, many didn’t qualify for government financial supports such as CERB.
  • Although visits to the local foodbank were beneficial, they often didn’t stock staples of the kitchens of these new Canadians.
  • And to top it off, all the kids were home from school for months on end, making a difficult situation even harder.

With their phone ringing constantly, and hearing of the desperate situations that families were finding themselves in, House of Omeed evaluated capacity, diverted budgets, and worked to meet their needs.

1. Food Security

They purchased halal and culturally familiar food to augment what the local foodbanks could offer and began a bi-weekly food hamper delivery service for those in financial crisis. At the peak of BC’s shutdown, they were supporting more than 130 families. There are many amazing stories that could be told, as families have felt seen, loved, supported and part of a community.

Now that some Covid shutdowns have eased and people are back at work, deliveries continue to seniors and those with disabilities, and for those who are more mobile a food distribution centre called ‘Food Refuge’ has been opened in the space adjoining the House of Omeed.

Of note in this initiative are the key partnerships that have developed through strong relationships forged in pre-Covid days with other community advocates. Coquitlam Alliance Church and many other churches, as well as community service groups such as the Vancouver Foundation, United Way, Community Food Centres Canada, Second Harvest, and others were connected by these advocates to the House of Omeed, and have provided needed support to this food security initiative among a vulnerable population.

2. Farsi Coaching Videos

They produced, with the help of an experienced home school educator, a series of coaching videos in Farsi to help families with their homeschooling challenges. Still available online they can be viewed on House of Omeed’s Facebook page.

3. Online English Classes

As things settled a bit, English classes were relaunched online to help adults improve their English-language capacity. These and other staple services are being re-established in new ways, so that the needs of the community can be met.

Moving Forward

When asked, Ahmad has a list of things he’s trusting God to supply. From ongoing funds for daily and monthly needs, to partner churches, to volunteers who can teach English or package groceries.

If you love people and love Jesus Christ, why don’t you ask God if there’s something you can do to support their good work? Email ahmad@houseofomeed.ca to find out more.


House of Omeed Contact Information

For more information on House of Omeed, visit their website here: House of Omeed

You can also find contact information (phone number, email) here: Contact House of Omeed


Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Loving Muslims Together (LMT) and Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.

 



print


Return

Ministry Blogs

How to Pray for your Church
One of the things that should be on all our prayer lists right now is our church.  Pastors, elders, and various leaders and ministries have had a challenging time as we live through a global pandemic.  The big pivot has...
Read more...
Loving and Supporting MKs: One Church's Story
What are some ways you could love and encourage the MKs you know? Here's a story of how one church practically loved and supported MKs!
Read more...
Afghan Refugees: How can we Respond?
With the recent upheaval in Afghanistan, the Canadian government has committed to accept 40,000 refugees. Lorna calls the church to step up to help settle Afghan Refugees. She also shares about an opportunity to su...
Read more...
Looking Back & Looking Forward
We just installed new signs on our office and this provides an opportunity to look back at a moment in our history!
Read more...
Next Steps: Mission at our Doorstep
If you missed "Mission at our Doorstep", or if you'd like to see it again, you can view the recording of the whole event here. As you consider how to pursue the Mission at YOUR Doorstep, here are some potential nex...
Read more...
At Our Doorstep
We often think of missions as being to the "ends of the earth," but Jesus commissioned his followers to be his witnesses, starting in Jerusalem, right where they were. As followers of Jesus, we are called to do the same...
Read more...
Loving a Mosque Community Together
A story of a Chinese Church in southern Ontario choosing to love the Mosque Community closest to them through prayer. 
Read more...
World Mental Health Day 2021
3 Articles + 1 Library for World Mental Health Day 2021. Resources for Cross-Cultural Workers & Third Culture Kids. 
Read more...
Breathe! It's Thanksgiving
Breathing connects us and reminds us to be forever grateful for the gift of life in relationship with the Creator and with each other.
Read more...
Memoirs from a Missionary Mom: On Loneliness
During our first year in Chavuma, Zambia with four boys five years old and under, most days I didn’t get past the clothes line, pegging out loads of diapers and laundry. Even without small children, life in developing c...
Read more...
 

 

2 - 7201 72 Street Delta BC V4G 1M5