2016: A Look Back

Ron and Miriam's children. 

Ron and Miriam's children. 

Last spring, Ron and Miriam heard exciting news: The UN Refugee Agency was accelerating their appeal for refugee status.

After fleeing persecution in Pakistan with their three children nearly five years ago, Ron and Miriam eagerly awaited the UN’s decision. They desperately hoped the UN would accept them, and help them find freedom in a new country.

Three months ago, Ron and Miriam learned that the UN had rejected their case. This decision devastated their hopes of moving to a new country, but it could not keep Ron and Miriam from experiencing freedom.

A Life Raft church in Bangkok has embraced Ron and Miriam, empowering them to live purpose-filled lives. Ron and Miriam are now serving at their church, gaining vocational skills, and enabling their children to get a high quality education.

Thanks to your support, and their church community, Ron and Miriam have discovered that when they focus on the opportunities God has for them in Bangkok, they are able to experience freedom.

We believe that no matter how difficult our circumstances are, God has a purpose for us. Even as Pakistani Christians face increasing despair in Bangkok, you enable them to live with hope in a loving community.

Ron and Miriam are just one example of how you helped refugees find freedom in 2016. Here are some numbers that reflect the scope of your impact:


8 Things That Surprised the Canadian Team About Bangkok

1. Leading a camp is a blast


While we were in Thailand, we led two 3-day English camps at refugee schools. All the preparation we put into this was so worth it. It was a blessing to get to know the students and staff, and an honor to have the opportunity to teach them. Our highlight was seeing their faces light up when we encouraged them in who God says they are – royal sons and daughters. We’ve never been attacked with so many hugs before. We already miss all their joyful faces!

2. God loves refugees, a lot


This wasn't a surprise, so much as a deeper understanding of God's heart for refugees. We were so honored to be invited into refugee’s homes for a meal. They welcomed us, and shared their traditional foods with us. We heard so many testimonies of how God has protected, provided for and comforted them in their distress. Some of our favorite moments were the times of worship we shared with them. We cherish the time that we got to spend with them, and pray we will see them again.

3. It was not too hot, even in the really, really hot season


Our leaders, Allie and Aaron prepared us for a fiery furnace. So when it turned out to be a humid 100 F, which felt like 120 it wasn’t that bad. It was honestly a nice break from the Canadian cold.

4. God is doing miraculous things in refugee schools


King David was once a lowly shepherd boy, forgotten by his father – but God chose him to rule the nation of Israel. We saw how God’s plan for these refugee children is not limited by their circumstance, and that he is choosing them to do great things. In the refugee schools, we learned how God is miraculously providing what they need and instilling purpose and hope in the students’ lives as they learn to dream big and believe that God can do anything. They are not only doing their regular academic subjects with excellence, but they are also learning to have genuine faith in Christ. These refugee schools are training ground for world-changers.

5. The food in Thailand is simply incredible


Bangkok is so diverse, and so we ate many different kinds of delicious foods: Thai, Pakistani, Indian, Lebanese, Japanese, and Sri Lankan. Our favorites were the Pakistani meals we shared with new friends; especially the chapatti, dal, and tea.

6. Motorbike taxis are pretty great


In a hot sprawling city, sometimes you have two choices: a sweaty 20-minute walk, or a breezy 3-minute motorbike ride that is more thrilling than a rollercoaster. We usually chose the motorbike.

7. Thais are amazing people


So many times we wished we could speak Thai so that we could get to know the people better. But despite the language barrier, we were amazed at their kindness, gentleness, and generosity. We felt very welcomed in this country, and still miss the friends we made.

8. We can make a difference


While we were in a truck headed to the IDC, Polly, the eldest daughter in a family of refugees detained there, prayed that she could see her whole family. It had been two months since her family was together, but God used us to answer that prayer. Seeing the joy of the family reunited was one of the most moving experiences of our trip.

We believe that to whom much is given, much more will be required. Visiting Thailand showed us how much we have been given. We know we made at least a small difference, but we also know that much more is now required of us.

The Extended Honeymoon

drawing cropped
drawing cropped

Just three days into their married life, Mariam and Yusuf were forced to flee their home . Mariam's older brother had been prominent in helping victims of the Gojra attacks in 2009. This enraged local Islamic extremists, and they targeted his entire family, specifically threatening to kill Yusuf and rape and murder Mariam.

Mariam and Yusuf fled to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, hoping to start a new life together, but threats against their life continued. Feeling they had no other options, they fled to Thailand with little more than two suitcases.

When they arrived, they found out Mariam was pregnant. They were joyful, but also terrified. They weren’t sure how they were going to support themselves, let alone a new child.

As they faced these fears, Yusuf and Mariam met Jan at a local church. Jan, who is Thai, opened her heart to them and befriended them. Eventually, she was able to connect with Life Raft, who provided financial support to Yusuf and Mariam, and helped guide Jan in how to effectively help them.

Thanks to their friendship with Jan, Yusuf and Mariam were able to survive their time in Thailand, and even start homeschooling their daughter. Recently, Canada accepted them for resettlement.

As their time in Thailand draws to an end, Yusuf and Mariam jokingly refer to the past three and a half years in their adopted home as an “extended honeymoon”.

Mariam said they will miss Thai people and their hospitality.

“When you have nothing and somebody helps you, it means a lot,” said Mariam. “There is so much to be grateful for, we cannot even begin to say to thank you. We only know that God is showing his lovethrough Jan.”

Written by Tim Lefevre