January 1, 1970

Local Church Sabbath School Sponsors Refugee Family in Canada

In the first part, Safa Mokry, an Iranian Seventh-day Adventist refugee in Canada, shares how the Lord has led his family.—Editors. 

I am called Iman, which, in Persian, means “faith.” Now I go by Safa Mokry. This is my family’s story.

I was born in a very religious Muslim family in the northwestern part of Iran. I always read the Qur’an searching for God, wanting a connection with Him, but I never felt God’s presence or peace in my life. In 1995, I graduated with an associate degree in mathematical physics and began to teach mathematics in Bukan. While there, I married Esther, and we had two sons, Diyar and Zhiar. Life was good — except I still did not have the peace that I was searching for.

While in Bukan, I met a Christian who saw that I was thirsting to know more about God, so he arranged for his friends to study with me. When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I experienced peace. But when my wife found out that I was a Christian now, she said, “You changed. I’m leaving!” As she packed, I went to another room and, through my tears, prayed, “God, after searching for so long, I cannot lose You now! If I must choose between you and my wife, I choose You. I leave this situation in Your hands.”

My wife was asleep on the sofa when I returned. Putting my hand on her, I prayed. She suddenly woke up and said, “I had a dream. You spoke a name I’ve never heard before. Holy something.”

“The Holy Spirit?” I asked.

“Yes! That was it,” she replied.

I explained about the Holy Spirit, Christianity, and how Jesus lived and died for us. We spoke for hours, after which she sobbed, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” After Bible studies, my family and I were baptized, and after more training, I was chosen to be a pastor. I worked as a math teacher, but I spent my spare time volunteering, visiting, and teaching people about God.

I was happy to share the good news of the Gospel even though it was difficult and dangerous in Iran. I was arrested many times. The last time I was tortured for 20 days and had to stand trial. I was sentenced to death but released on bail due to the Iranian New Year. During the holidays, on March 27, 2014, my family and I escaped across the border of Iran and illegally entered Iraq. Eventually, we made our way to Turkey and registered as refugees.

In Turkey, we were blessed to meet a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Shahbaz Bakhshnia, and we studied the 28 fundamental beliefs. All four members of our family were baptized again, and my new church asked me to lead Bible studies for Iranians. I taught people around the world by internet and television broadcasts on Omid TV. 

We were later relocated to Karaman, Turkey, where we found a small Christian group with whom I led Bible studies. Before long, that group grew much larger, and we established a church there.

As refugees, we did not carry passports from any country — a dangerous situation for us, especially since I was publicly preaching about Jesus Christ in a Muslim country. Our children’s future was our biggest concern. Diyar (now 21) would like to be a physician, and Zhiyar (now 17) has an interest in music. We prayed for a home where our sons would be allowed to study and nurture their abilities and where we could faithfully serve God in freedom.

After six long years, God opened the doors for us to come to Canada. We are located in Lacombe, Alberta, having been sponsored by the Connect Sabbath School class of the College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity and support of so many people who have followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to become the answer to our prayers. 

The Other Side of the Story

What follows in the second part is the Sabbath School class’s story, told from the members’ perspective.—Editors

We, the Connect Class at the College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, had been studying the book of Acts for four years. That journey enabled us to discover how the Spirit led the early church as they learned how to be the church. 

It has been amazing to see how the Spirit still leads His church. In November 2019, we met to discuss how we could be more intentional with service projects. One of our class members, Flora, suggested sponsoring a refugee family. Many years earlier, her family had arrived in Canada as refugees from Turkey, so she knew the challenges and rewards firsthand. We watched as the Spirit opened doors to make this dream a reality. 

Flora contacted the Adventist church in Istanbul to see if their pastor knew of a family that needed sponsorship. He did. Our leader, Dr. Boyd, learned that his son-in-law’s parents had recently returned from the Middle East, and they were able to validate this pastor’s information. 

After consulting with other organizations who had experienced sponsoring refugees, the Lacombe First Baptist Church offered to assist us with the application process and be our agent to receive and disburse our funds. After several meetings, our class decided to sponsor the Mokry family if our small group could raise at least half of the necessary funds.

A very affirming indicator that the Spirit was leading was when we counted the anonymous pledges. We had exactly half the funds needed to sponsor this family for a year! How thrilled we were! We excitedly shared our dream with friends and the rest of our church family and soon raised all the remaining funds. 

God also led us to a former refugee in the city of Red Deer who spoke Persian. She graciously offered to translate and help with the application/settling process. Their paperwork was quickly processed. Soon, the Mokrys were given permission to get the necessary medical examinations, which they passed, and were issued the necessary documents that enabled them to travel to Canada and begin their new life. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and all travel to Canada was halted. We continued to pray that they would be kept safe until travel could begin again. 

When foreign travel to Canada did resume, we received word that they would be arriving in a few weeks. November 10, 2020, came with a snowstorm and slippery roads, but that did not deter the team that made their way to the Calgary airport. Thankfully, they had a safe trip, and the Mokry family arrived. Generous donations enabled us to have a completely furnished and equipped townhouse ready for them to call home.

How thrilled and thankful we all are! The Connect Class members are humbled to have watched the Spirit continue to lead in so many ways, making our dream become the answer to their prayers. For us, it is a story that could be added to the book of Acts. The Mokrys’ prayers for a country to call home, where their children can be educated and where they can faithfully serve God in freedom, have been answered.

The original version of this story was posted in the May 2021 issue of the Canadian Adventist Messenger.