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Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont., is a senior
writer at Faith Today.
Helping refugees adjust to
Paul Carline is part of the adjunct faculty
of this country’s smallest university,
St. Stephen’s University in St. Stephen,
N.B. The Christian transdenominational
liberal arts school has a total student
body of no more than 120 students.
Carline teaches a practical sociology
course in Encountering World Religions,
and says he comes to the university as a
practitioner, not an academic. “Doing
curricula is really my extracurricular
activity,” he explains.
When not in the classroom, Carline is
director of intercultural ministries for the
Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches.
When not in his office, he spends considerable time caring for refugees.
His concern for newcomers is rooted in
the events of his own life. Time and again
he has experienced what it is to be a stranger in a strange land.
“I grew up overseas,” he explains. “My
father worked in oil refineries in various
places – in Kuwait and the Bahamas. I
was born in England and we ended up
immigrating to Canada through one of
his work appointments. We came to St.
John when I was ten years old, and Canada became home.
“We became citizens and we became
Christians in Canada. So that really
helped us put roots down. We were loved,
when we moved to the area, by a church
family. Sort of adopted by them. And they
eventually led us to Christ.”
As an adult Carline moved with his wife
Kelly to Kenya where they worked with
Somali refugees (under the auspices of
Canadian Baptist Ministries) for 17 years.
Returning to Canada in 2012, the couple
bought a house with a large two-storey
outbuilding. They decided to turn that
building into a furniture bank.
“When refugees move into the area,
we’re able to help set up their first apartment,” he says. Together with a small
group of volunteers, they take donations
of everything from bedding and linens to
kitchenware and large furniture, relying
on “friends who own pick-up trucks” to
collect the items.
While Carline says the whole thing is
still fairly casual and unstructured – “We
don’t have a web presence. We don’t have
anything in writing. We don’t even keep
track of how many families we serve or
how much we give away” – he knows the
community receives about 60 people each
year, many of them refugees from Syria
and Iraq, and they help to supply most of
them with needed household items.
Of course it all leads to some great re-
lationships. Carline plays soccer with a
group of men who arrived as refugees, but
shrugs, “I love soccer, so it’s no big sacri-
fice on my part.” He also likes canoeing,
and tells of accompanying half a dozen
African men out on a river in canoes re-
cently. “I found out how competitive they
are,” he laughs. “They all wanted to race
their canoes down the river.”
There have been challenges, times
when Carline and his wife have wondered
what they’ve gotten themselves into. Like
in March 2015 when 40 refugees arrived
in the span of a month, or when their
outbuilding is filled to overflowing and
they have to turn donations away.
But there’s no real mystery at work. God
knows their hearts, says Carline, and
“We’re really just following our heart’s
The Carlines in front of their furniture bank.