Neal and Joan enjoying a meal at our apartment with 'F', 'M' and their little four-year-old son 'R.'
On Thursday afternoon we invited a family from Iran to share a meal with us. This little family have been living at the refugee camp for two or three months, and have been coming to the Oasis regularly.
Their story is harrowing and complicated, and for their safety I cannot share much of it openly on this blog. But in brief - 'F' gave his life to Jesus, secretly, in Iran after being witnessed to by a friend at work. He started attending an underground church and soon his wife 'M' joined him and also committed her life to Christ.
They're both highly educated (both have masters degrees) and speak excellent English. They had very good jobs and were living a comfortable life with their young son.
For reasons I cannot divulge they left Iran, intending to fly to the UK, but were arrested by Italian police as they were boarding a connecting flight in Italy. They managed to find a way over the border, arriving in Austria a couple of months ago.
'M' has been hospitalised several times since arriving at the camp and for a time was on 'suicide watch.' She is suffering from acute PTSD, depression and anxiety for which she takes a cocktail of 15 tablets every day. 'F' is doing his best to take care of his wife and son while struggling to make a 'home' for them out of a tiny, cramped and dingy room at the camp.
This lovely couple have lost everything since accepting Christ, yet 'F's greatest wish is to study and learn more of the scriptures. He is a brilliant academic, having written several research papers and thesies in his particular field of study.
'M' has a masters degree in art and is a very talented multi-media artist, yet in the camp she has no access to any artist materials which might help her regain a little of her dignity and self-respect.
It was a privilege to have them over to our apartment for a meal, and we're planning to spend much more time with them in the coming weeks. They've been regularly attending the Farsi Bible study group at the local evangelical church, and often meet to discuss life as a Christian with our dear friends Ali and Marzia.
Please pray for these dear ones - your brother and sister in Christ - that God will heal their fractured emotions and broken hearts, restoring to them the joy of their salvation. Pray that they will be treated favourably by the authorities here, that they will not be deported back to Italy, but will be issued their white cards soon. Also that they will not be transferred to another area of Austria, but will be allowed to stay close to Traiskirchen so they can continue to be ministered to at the Oasis and build relationships with other local Farsi-speaking Christians.