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Why We Welcome: The Hope We Feel

Hope: Just a syllable, but so much more.

On February 24, 2022, my family and I woke up to the sound of explosions in Kherson, in the south of Ukraine. A quick glance at the BBC web page and messages on the messaging platform Viber, from panicked church members, confirmed my worst fears. I woke my wife up and said (in a very baritone voice), “Masha, we are at war!”

That day marked the beginning of a tumultuous month—one defined by bombings, clandestine moments spent hiding in our shower during air raids, the surreal sight of tanks rolling down our street, and the occupation of our city by a foreign invader.

In a twist of fate, we found ourselves living a narrative we could never have scripted. For 32 days, we existed in perpetual darkness, abstaining from switching on lights in our apartment to avoid catching the attention of foreign soldiers patrolling outside our window. Eventually, we fled through minefields, amidst shelling and enemy checkpoints. We left with a suitcase full of clothes (which, as I discovered later, belonged almost entirely to my wife), and seven bottles of water, just in case we were stranded in the middle of nowhere on our journey out.

Where do you find hope when your life turns over on its heels? What or who do you put your faith in when you are crouched in the shower, hoping and praying that the next bomb, rocket, or missile will not hit you? How does hope become more than just a word?

For Masha and me, that hope was, and still is, God. It sounds almost cliché and too simple now, in hindsight. If I were to say that my spirits were high through the entirety of our time under occupation, I would not be telling the truth. It was in those moments of doubt that I realized something absolute that God had been trying to communicate to me the entire time:


His narratives are not just stories; they are stories of HOPE, stories that are authentic and true. He orchestrates each character’s role, and our task is simply to follow His direction. If you think about it, it is akin to the movie Stranger than Fiction. Jeremiah 29:11(“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”)promises us that God is writing a story filled with hope.

My role with World Relief introduces me to people from diverse backgrounds – individuals who have fled war, escaped persecution, and violence, faced extreme hardship, lost some, lost much, lost everything, sought refuge, sought asylum, etc. They are starting a new chapter, and it’s a privilege for me to witness the story of hope that God is writing for them. As they navigate through challenges, God transforms them into heroes. It’s a blessing to be a character in their story.

As I reflect, I pose the same question to you: What story is God writing for you?

Hope: Just a syllable. But so much more.

Prawin Antony

Financial Empowerment Specialist

Prawin Antony is the Financial Empowerment Specialist at World Relief Western Washington. He supports participants in reaching financial stability and goals in their new community!

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