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23 October 2021
Ayda, her husband Yadi, and their children converted from Islam to Christianity in 2019 after Ayda met Major Colin Elkington, who established the Farsi Fellowship at Brunswick Salvos in Melbourne.
Words Ayda Mirhashemi
When my family and I left Iran for Australia in 2013, we were Muslim and had followed the Islamic faith our entire lives. After a month in a detention centre, we moved to Melbourne.
We didn’t know anyone in Melbourne, but we built a life for ourselves. I studied for a degree in accounting and started a job as a social worker.
In 2019, I started to volunteer with The Salvation Army in Brunswick. I helped with customer service, took calls and helped the older clients who needed support. Every week, I would see [Salvation Army officer] Major Colin Elkington behind the customer service window, and he was so kind and would pray for people’s hearts. I just watched, and I told myself, “Oh, they are so lucky.”
When my mum passed away in Iran, I said to Colin, “I'm so upset about losing my mum. Could you please help and pray for me?” He prayed, and that was really helpful. So, I continued praying with him, and I became interested in the Christian religion. We started a Bible study, and I went home and explained to my husband, Yadi, that Christianity is such an amazing religion.
That’s when Yadi said, “I can do this as well!” And he met with Kevin Amiri – the ministry assistant at the Brunswick Farsi Fellowship, who is also Persian – and he learned about the Bible. By the end of that year, my husband, my children and I decided to change our religion from Islam to Christianity!
Knowing Jesus has changed our lives. We feel like we are closer to God, and we are always happy. In our culture, we would come together in the mosque, and I felt we just had to be sad and always crying. But here at church, we are always happy, singing songs and playing the piano.
We have a family now. My daughter says it feels like we’re taking the last steps of fitting into the Australian community. Knowing Jesus makes me feel like I’m close to God – even in my house. I’ve never had such a feeling before.
As told to Salvos writer Jessica Morris.