A refugee comes to stay

What would you do if your dad put a gun to your head and said, “If you don’t want to follow the faith of our family, I will kill you”?

This is the story of a homeless 23-year-old Iraqi refugee who came to stay with us one night. He had been sleeping on a bench at the local bus station for the past two weeks, but that night he came home with us so that, for at least for one night, he could have a home-cooked meal, a shower and a warm bed. Now he wants to help others by serving at the refugee centre where we volunteer. This is his amazing story of encountering Jesus …

“I first started seeking God by attending a local school in Iraq. However, I was turned off by the violence that was promoted, so I returned home dejected and eventually decided to become an atheist. Then, I became aware of a Christian in my city who encouraged me to honestly pray, ‘God, if you are real, then show me’.

“What followed changed my life … I had a vivid vision of Jesus carrying the cross. In such pain He was struggling, and I ran over to help Him. But He wouldn’t let me carry His cross. He just smiled at me with an unforgettable smile which I can still see today and said, ‘I’m carrying this for you’.

“A little later, I was hanging out with my friends who were talking about horrible things when someone leaned into my right ear and said, ‘Your name is now John and you need to leave these people’. I turned around but no-one was there. I knew at that time God had spoken to me and I needed to turn away from my sin and the bad influences in my life. But I knew this wouldn’t be an easy road, as my dad leads a pretty ‘dark’ group. So when my dad found out about my new faith, he pulled out his gun from his pocket and held it to my head.”

John did the only thing he could think of to save his life. He bought a plane ticket and fled from his family. He went from being part of a wealthy family to being homeless and jobless in a city of five million people, with no support. Although we could not provide John with everything he needed, we could encourage and pray with him.

Adam (IT/project management) and Penny (special education) serve the church in West Asia long term. They have two children.

All names have been changed.