Entertaining angels unawares

Published November 2, 2016

Many are the stories of parishes throughout our beloved church that have welcomed hundreds of refugees and helped them settle into a new life in Canada.

During a recent visit in Corner Brook (diocese of Western Newfoundland), Dean Baxter Park told me of how the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist congregation raised the funds to sponsor a Syrian family, and found and completely furnished a house. On a cold winter night in February, they welcomed the Almaidami family-mother, father and two young children. By trade, the father is a barber. With support from parishioners with good connections in the community, it was not long before he was able to begin work. He now has his driver’s licence and is doing very well. The whole family is learning English.

One of their teachers is Ruth. She is a very devoted member of the cathedral congre- gation and supportive of all its outreach ministries. When her spouse who had been in long-term care for several years died she was absolutely lost. And then, in the midst of her grief, this opportunity to teach English emerged. Ruth says she cannot say enough about the deep joy and enrichment that this involvement with the Almaidamis has brought her. She has come to love them all, and they her. Indeed, for the children she has become their grandmother in Canada.

With great delight, Baxter told me the very first word that the 14-month-old spoke was “Ruth.”That,” he said “is the God’s truth.” Ruth has given this family so much happiness, so much hope, so much new life. And perhaps unbeknownst to them, they have given all the same gifts to her. Their life is changed forever, and so is hers.

Here is a lovely story reminding us that in extending hospitality to strangers, we may well indeed be “entertaining angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Insomuch as many would say Ruth has been an angel to the Almaidami family, they have all, in their own unique ways, been angels to her.

For the mystery and beauty of their giftedness one to another, may God be praised!


  • Fred Hiltz

    Archbishop Fred Hiltz was primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2007 to 2019.

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