The Anon* family are Pakistani Christians who had to flee from their home in Pakistan after Mr. Anon's small business shop was burned down and his life threatened by local religious leaders. Mr. Anon was able to secure a visa for Thailand while his family took shelter with an uncle 500 Km from home.
Mr. Anon could not find a job in Thailand and so crossed overland into Cambodia in August of 2010. After becoming somewhat settled, he sent for his wife and two small children who also came through Thailand in March of 2011. Since that time, both of their passports had expired and could not be renewed without a dangerous trip to the Pakistani Embassy. The family registered with the UNHCR as Refugees in Cambodia. They struggled to survive as neither one could obtain a work permit without a valid passport. Returning to Pakistan was not an option. The Lord did provide in many different ways but their long-term dream was to settle in Canada, land of freedom and opportunity.
Eldon and Ruth Gamble, parents of Jasmin (class of 2006) met the Anon family during a visit to Cambodia. In May 2016, the Gambles invited Henry and Barb Wiens, parents of several alumni and now grandparents of current students, plus several others to form a “Group of Five” private sponsorship group. The process involved background and financial checks for each of the five parties and commitments to fully support the family for a period of up to one year after arrival in Calgary. These folks became “Team Anon”.
On September 15, 2016, all the required documents were mailed to the immigration office in Winnipeg.
Mr. Anon's response to this news came in an email, part of which is directly quoted here: “Many Blessings in Jesus to all our Sponsorship Group. Praise the Lord. We are so grateful for all of you, when we read this email today we burst out into tears and thanked the Lord for this is going to really happen. Now our and our kids' future is secured in this great country! no more threats of life, persecution and fearful life. This is only could be possible because of you all and of your hard work for all the paper work and of course prayers. We are so thankful to God for your kind hearts that you are helping us same as written in Psalm 91:11''FOR HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU IN YOUR WAYS!'' You all are helping angels for us from God. We are too much exited to meet you all, even our kids are waiting to play in the snow and study in good schools and make new friends. We are trusting in God and will be praying and fasting for the government of Canada to be kind to us and for success of our application and she may response to it very soon! Amen Please continue to pray for us!” (The wish to play in the snow was granted quite early in the fall! See the photos of the snowman building party!)
After that, it became a waiting game, as the paperwork made its way through the various government
departments. Finally, in July 2018, news came that the family was cleared for immigration to Canada!
The team went into high gear to prepare for their arrival. Our promised support included everything from finding accommodation and registering the children in school, to assisting in a job search and accessing language training, orienting them to the transit system, library, grocery shopping, medical system, outfitting them for Canadian winter weather, introducing the family to our church communities and including them in our own individual family activities. From helping the family navigate the school schedule and expectations of teachers to setting them up with some Christmas decorations for the holidays, this process has truly been a team effort and could not be accomplished by just one or two individuals. The Anon family has made many difficult adjustments in their first few months in Calgary, but their story is one of faith in God who takes care of His children, even if the road is difficult and long. We are privileged to be partners with them in this part of the journey.
Submitted by Barb Wiens, on behalf of the Wiens and Gamble families and the rest of the support team
*Name changed to protect identity