Student From Syria Reclaims Her Identity
“At around 9pm on New Year’s Eve (2015), we got a phone call from the Canadian Embassy and they said, ‘pack your bags, you leave in two days.’ And just like that we were moving to Canada.”
Sara was born in Syria and lived there until the war brought her family to Lebanon in 2011. Five years later, she and her family were cleared to emigrate to Canada.
“For me, it was very hard,” Sara says. “But my parents were very happy.”
In Lebanon, Sara worked with Youth with a Mission (YWAM), where she felt a sense of belonging.
“My boat was sailing in a nice, calm area and my anchor was down,” she says. But getting the news that she would be moving to Canada felt like “you suddenly have this storm and when it ends you’re in a different place.”
Her family relocated to Prince George, where Sara became part of the InterVarsity campus group at the University of Northern British Columbia.
“I was wondering who I was since coming to Canada—am I a Canadian now? Or still a Syrian? Or a Lebanese?
“But when I met Derek Joyce (a campus minister with InterVarsity at UNBC), he immediately saw my heart and said, ‘I see something in you and want you to be a leader with this group,’ and it was really healing. It made me realize that I’m still me.
“Being with InterVarsity, I got to know people who see me as more than a refugee, and that was very healing for me. I was able to speak out about the guilt and pain, and the hard things I’d been going through, in a new way. So I’m grateful for leaders like that, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
In August 2017, Sara took part in a Global Partnership (short term mission) with students from the Middle East who came to Canada for three weeks.
“This Global Partnership has been good. What I like about InterVarsity is how you meet people from different backgrounds—not just on this trip, but at the MARKwest camp and in Prince George—and you see how we’re all united somehow just in wanting to know Jesus. I love this because this is the kingdom of God. And that’s one of the main reasons I love being with InterVarsity, because I feel this is where my heart is.”
Sara isn’t sure exactly where God will take her next, but she knows her heart is for reconciliation, other refugees and helping people know Christ.
“I’m working with refugees here, and many of them have started seeing visions and having dreams. So though it’s been a hard year, I also know I gave my heart to Jesus, and he’s taking care of me. It’s for a reason that I’m here, and God is really moving. And that makes me really encouraged. Especially for Syria, where there is a lot of death and depression, a lot of sadness. God can turn bad things into beautiful things. I experienced that, and I know others will too.”
This year, Sara stepped faithfully into an eight-month internship with InterVarsity in BC! If you’re interested in helping Sara get her feet on the ground with students in BC this year, please donate here.
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