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Rally to Free Lulu

One month ago, a little girl named Lulu celebrated her sixth birthday. There was cake, laughter, games, and even a pony that the little party guests took turns riding. The day should have been nothing but joyful. But that was sadly not the case. Rather than hosting her friends in her home, Lulu’s birthday was held in a church…the church where she and her family live. This is the third year in a row that Lulu has celebrated her birthday in sanctuary.

 Almost two and a half years ago, Lulu and her parents saw no other option but to move into a Toronto church when they were threatened with deportation to Hungary. They had come to Canada as refugee claimants, after fleeing danger in their country of origin. Lulu’s parents, Jozsef and Timea, were both high-profile human rights advocates in Hungary. When Jozsef was specifically targeted in an attack by a neo-Nazi group, he knew that he needed to move his family to safety. Upon coming to Canada, the family employed a licensed refugee lawyer to represent their case to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Jozsef, Timea and Lulu, amongst hundreds of other Roma claimants, became victims of the work of a sloppy and incompetent lawyer. Their lawyer not only did not attend their IRB hearing, but he failed to submit crucial evidence proving their human rights work in Hungary. The claim was denied and the family was scheduled for deportation. They put in a complaint against the lawyer with the Law Society of Upper Canada, but it has taken more than two years to begin processing.

Unlike the many families who were key witnesses against the professional misconduct of this lawyer and who have already been deported, Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu have remained in Canada. They have only been able to do so because they have been taken into sanctuary by a church community. This church is one of a few who have opened their doors to provide sanctuary over the years, doing so in spite of the apprehensions that they undoubtedly had with welcoming a refugee family into the space. The community is aware of the risks, but they were even more aware of the risks to these people’s lives if they were to return to Hungary. Hebrews 13:2 prepares us for this type of radical hospitality, as by welcoming strangers in to our lives, communities and physical spaces, you never know when you may be entertaining angels.

 Two and a half years of not going outside, not going to school, not doing your own grocery shopping, and not taking your child to the park is too long. The people of God need to come together and fight for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for Lulu and her family so she can live freely and go to school while the Law Society process, which may take many more years, carries on. On May 23rd, leaders of faith communities from across Canada are coming together at the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration’s office in Ajax to speak in a united voice of support for the family. Taking inspiration from the text of Joshua 6 (the fall of Jericho), we cry out, wait, and pray for a Temporary Residence Permit. The CRC needs to be there. YOU need to be there. (See the event poster on this page for more information or respond to the Facebook event.)

Editor's note: You can learn more about Lulu's situation and see the dozens of letters that schoolchildren have written to Lulu to encourage her at Could your Sunday school class write a letter to Lulu? 

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