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Meet: John and Maria*

How did Tenth Church welcome you on your journey?

We lived in a neighbourhood for the Hazara people, in the central regions of Afghanistan ( It was a very bad situation because there were many explosions in the area of Kabul. There was a bombing at a school and over 100 young girls died. My (Maria) sister skipped school that day and didn’t die, but after the bombing I was in shock. Many extremists came to persecute the Hazara people in the neighbourhood, in schools, hospitals, busses – anywhere to attack them.  When the Taliban finally entered Kabul to take over Afghanistan, I was very afraid and worried about being killed. We tried to escape at the airport many times, but couldn’t get out. Eventually, we managed to leave to go to Pakistan through a different way, and arrived a few days after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Our journey to Canada took over two years. We travelled through Pakistan, Brazil, north towards Mexico, the USA, and finally arrived in Canada in 2023. At first, we stayed at homeless shelters in Vancouver. We visited many places for help, but we couldn’t find somewhere to live. One day, the weather was very cold and the shelters were all full. We decided to sleep at the park that night. At that time, we had some Afghan friends who knew about Tenth, and they introduced us to someone from the church. It was late, about 8 pm, when I (John) first received a message from someone at Tenth. The message said, “don’t worry, we will be there and will help you to find a place.” Soon after, they brought us to one of Tenth’s temporary homes. We stayed there for about 3 months and enjoyed a wonderful community with other Afghan people in the home.

What are some things you love sharing with Canadian friends about your culture?

We like to share about Hazara culture. There is a special folkloric music called Dambora Hazaragi. The Dambora is a traditional guitar special for Hazara people and those who live in the north of Afghanistan. This music is played in the mountains among people who care for animals. When people gather, they play this music. The Hazara people like to play Dambora and listen to that music. 

How have you seen God at work along your journey of coming to settle in Canada?

I (John) first heard about Jesus in 2014 through a friend, but I didn’t care about it at the time. Later in 2018, I was in a difficult situation without a job or income after being married, and came to have a change of heart and mind. During this difficult time, we needed help and remembered the message from our friend about the Gospel. I downloaded a Bible app on my phone and began reading it. I joined an online group of people who teach the Bible. Before the classes I felt confused about the Bible, but the group explained things to me and I came to know that Jesus was a different god, the real God. I didn’t feel afraid, I felt that a light was coming in my heart, something helpful.

When we arrived in Pakistan, we joined a Christian group for the first time, we joined some home churches with Afghan Christians, and started on-line bible studies. We then were baptised together.

Finding God began to change our lives. Before this, all we thought about was how bad life was. But after meeting Jesus, we still faced difficult situations, but we didn’t worry about it in the same way as before.

What is your life like now in Canada and what do you hope for in your future?

During the three months we stayed in Tenth’s temporary home, we received our identification from the government of Canada along with a work permit. In January, 2024, I (John) found a job, and shortly after in February, Maria also found work. Our life is going very well, and we have found friends. We feel at home here.

Our families are still in Afghanistan where my sisters can’t go to school. We are sad for them. We are sad for Afghanistan, but we need to pray for the country, for the people, for God to shine His light there. God can open the eyes of their hearts to know about Him and his love.


Since 2016, Tenth Church has welcomed refugee claimants into friendship, housing, and a community of hope. To learn more and to serve, visit To support our mission, please give at and select "Refugee Fund."

*Names have been changed to protect identities