Mehdi arrived in Australia seeking asylum in 2011 at the age of 15. Here he shares his experience as a refugee and the long journey towards healing, holding onto hope and finding community.
Vova and Yana arrived in Australia in March 2022, seeking asylum from the war in Ukraine. Here, they and the Dobbie family who opened their home in welcome share their story of friendship and healing.
Vova and Yana: We have experienced God’s mercy on each step after the war started in Ukraine and we had to leave our home.
On 24 th of February 2022, at 4:30 a.m. the Russian army started destroying many different airports in our city. Our home was only 6 kilometres away from the Borispol International Airport.
We heard the very first explosion really loudly and jumped out of the bed immediately. Vova ran upstairs to take the children to the basement as it was the safest place in our home. I still remember those frightened eyes of our children, wrapped in the blankets and could not sleep any more.
Everybody was sure it was the beginning of a new life that we would never like to experience.
In a very short period of time we heard four more explosions and had to make the extremely hard decision to leave our home and all our possessions to escape immediately. It was hours of travelling. Dozens of hours in border queues. But God sent His people every moment we needed it. In Romania and Germany Christian people provided us food and hot drinks. We had a place to stay each night for free.
In a special way God opened a door for us to Australia. It was my childhood’s dream to see this beautiful country with parrots, different colourful birds and warm weather, with no snow in the winter.
But there is a great difference between visiting as a tourist and seeking asylum in a new country as a refugee. Fleeing our home and trying to settle in a new country has been a big shock and is not easy.
Praise the Lord He is never late. Despite the fact that we’ve never met Ash and Abe Dobbie they opened the door of their home and hearts and allowed us to stay with them!
From the very first day in Sydney we had no need.
The Dobbie family are such a good example of Christian love in action. They provided us rooms and all we needed. We have been welcomed into their home and enjoy fellowship around the table with delicious Australian food. We were also amazed that they were willing to share with us the only car they have! That was equally unbelievable and terrific!
We feel so welcomed into their family. We can ask any question – which shop is the best to buy needed goods, which park to visit. They showed us care when we were homesick and our girls could not settle fast at school. They are always ready to listen to our worries and encourage us and give suggestions.
Joy, peace and faith are so visible in their life. They show us how to implement the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) in Christian life.
We pray that God would give a hundredfold back to their goodness.
Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.
Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.
Ash and Abe: When we heard of a family fleeing Ukraine who would need a place to stay, we immediately felt a strong urge to offer our home. We had been praying daily about the war in Ukraine and desired a practical way we could help.
Our church family supported us in preparing for them; one family sourced a bunk bed, another provided linen, and others offered to help in supplying food.
We welcomed the Chornenkyi family into our home and were prepared for difficulties that never eventuated. Their English is terrific, they have cousins nearby who are an extra emotional support to them, and we all get along well together.
As we began to share life together we realised the enormous struggle that relocating their lives really meant. People and possessions were left behind. Other things like jobs and which year of school the girls should attend. Everything is different now. However, their faith in our good God remains.
We’ve seen God at work in so many ways. Masha plays piano and Dasha the violin, but both instruments were left behind. We ‘just happened’ to have a violin that hasn’t been played in years and access to a piano. We had two bedrooms available for them.
We continually see God provide where there is need.
We feel grateful to be given the opportunity to love and support those who are in need and welcome the Chornenkyi family into our home. On our end it feels like such a small thing, but we know that God uses everything for the good of those who love Him and we are privileged to have a part in that.
we commit to you all those who flee their country,
homes and livelihoods because of the devastation of war.
Please extend to them your comfort and peace and provide for all their needs.
We thank you for the example of Jesus’ love.
Please grow us all in the image of Him.
Take action and join the conversation
One of the most important ways we can help contribute to a country and communities which always 'seek to heal and never to harm' those seeking refuge and asylum on our shores is to engage in conversations with the people around us. Take action this Refugee Week by connecting with your friends, family and faith community about this series.
Share your reflections from this post, prayers and join the conversation by commenting on today's Common Grace Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post or write your own using the hashtag #RefugeeWeek2022.
Vova and Yana are from Ukraine and came to seek asylum in Australia with their two daughters, Masha and Dasha, after war broke out in their home, February 2022.
Abe Dobbie serves at St Mark’s Anglican Church Berowra as its youth and young adults minister, Ash serves alongside him in various ministries, and together they work to raise their two daughters Samara (5) and Liliana (2).