Saskatoon, Sask.—For more than 16 years Leonie Lwamba maintained hope that one day she would see her husband Stephane again.
Her prayers were answered in 2010, when the family was reunited in Saskatoon. “I feel like a bride,” says Leonie. “From the moment I saw Stephane, I have had peace of mind. I feel joy.”
Their separation dates back to the 1990’s, when the couple, along with their children, fled from violent conflict in Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They sought refuge in Kenya.
Eventually, Stephane returned to DRC to help other family members escape. But once there, the conflict made it impossible for him to leave again. When he finally returned to Kenya, he learned that his family had found safety in Canada.
Leonie and their four children were in Saskatoon. They arrived in 2004 through Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) refugee assistance program, sponsored by Mount Royal Mennonite Church.
Stephane applied for refugee status in Canada, but waited six years for his application to be approved. “Before coming here, I was about to die—it was the stress of missing my family,” he says.
In Saskatoon, Leonie also waited. “Every Sunday, the church prayed that our family would be reunited and I knew that one day we would be together again because of the prayers and emotional support.”
In 2010, Stephane arrived in Saskatoon, also sponsored by Mount Royal Mennonite Church.
“The most joyful time for me is when I’m with my wife. I am so grateful to find her healthy and alive,” he says.
He’s pleased with how quickly their children have adjusted to life in a new country. Since being reunited with his family he says he often asks himself: “Am I on earth or in heaven? Is it real or am I dreaming?”
This family is among more than 15,000 refugees who have found hope for a better future through MCC Canada’s refugee assistance program. It enables congregations and community groups to fund one-year sponsorships for refugees who qualify for resettlement in Canada.
Reflecting on the support the family has received from the Mount Royal congregation, Leonie says: “I saw love in the church, not only by words but by actions. I can’t list all the ways. I am so thankful. May God bless the church.”