A group of refugees from Iran have found faith, home and purpose at Central Vineyard in Northampton.
Towards the end of 2022, Hassan, an Iranian man with limited English came along to Central Vineyard Northampton one Sunday completely out of the blue.
On that first Sunday, using Google Translate he shared some of his journey to the UK fleeing violence in his home country. Much of his journey was on foot and he shared about his wife’s persecution and trauma. After arriving in the UK, Hassan and his wife had been placed in a hotel in Northampton housing refugees.
Over the following weeks he invited other Iranians refugees, including his wife Zahra to come along on a Sunday, and by Christmas there was a small group who wanted to know more about Jesus. Zahra said, “we were attracted by your love and how kind you all were to us”.
Central Vineyard hosted a Christmas Brunch to connect with individuals and families that were isolated, and this group came along and enjoyed the British party games and food. They shared how they missed cooking and Persian cuisine so in January, the church opened up their kitchens to these Iranian friends who cooked a traditional Persian meal, to share with those who had befriended them at Central Vineyard
Around this time, a new family connected with Central Vineyard who were originally from Iran but had been in the UK for many years and therefore spoke perfect English and Farsi. They were a gift from God, given at the perfect time, and immediately got stuck in helping with translating.
By February, Central Vineyard launched Christianity Explored. During these sessions, the hunger for Jesus and the Holy Spirit was palpable. The group were keen to go deeper with discussions into the trinity, grace and forgiveness and overtime fell more in love with Jesus. As Hassan shared, “I came to England seeking safety, but it now doesn’t matter where I go because I have Jesus”. Three of these friends were baptised on Easter Sunday!
Some of the group have begun volunteering at CV’s compassion ministries, in the community cafe and food bank, with lifting being no problem for Hassan the bodybuilder. Zahra is a talented artist and was invited to have an exhibition at the Northampton Refugee Week event. Another is a beautician and will be offering make-overs at a parenting-group pamper session. They are so excited to have found a place to use their skills and be valued, welcomed and loved, but most importantly of all they have met Jesus.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.
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