Eight days before Christmas, Pastor Hassan Abduraheem stood at the front of a small Baptist church just a few miles from the Buckingham County, Virginia, border.
He was accompanied by his wife, Awadia, and Fibe, one of his daughters, as they sang a Christmas song in their native Arabic. The rest of his family — three sons, a second daughter and his mother — listened along in a pew toward the back of the church.
As they sang, the word “Hallelujah” rang through Tar Wallet Baptist Church, decorated with touches of green and red to celebrate the holiday season, as churchgoers listened with full attention.
Abduraheem is pursuing his calling as a minister, but he’s not the pastor of Tar Wallet. In fact, he and his family came to the United States from Sudan just months ago and have made Buckingham their new home.
But before they were refugees in the U.S., Abduraheem was imprisoned in Sudan for more than a year, charged with espionage along with two others, both of whom also were freed.
“Here for me, here is just a peaceful place. I am feeling really secure here and safe in this place,” he said. “After a long journey, … for me to be here, it’s really a privilege and I feel that for me and for my family, it’s safe for me here.”
Abduraheem and his family were able to come to the U.S. thanks in part to Rep. Tom Garrett, R-5th. The congressman, with others in the House of Representatives, already had been working on the release of Czech Pastor Petr Jasek from a Sudanese prison when he learned of Abduraheem and another man from Sudan, all charged with same crime.
SOURCE: Michael Bragg
The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress