God is my Refuge and my Strength

Kamy Moghbeli, interviewed by Fr. David Angelica

Kamy was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1951, and raised as a Shiite. His father was a physician and his mother was a nurse. Kamy attended lower school (Roman Catholic) educational institutions and then was professionally educated in Architectural Construction Management. From the beginning of his life, Kamy was overshadowed by God’s grace, although he was not intentionally aware of any special spiritual life living within him. It was at this time that he married Fery, his wife.

In 1980, after the Revolution, Kamy immigrated to Germany seeking political asylum, to escape Persian persecution. He lived there for about 4 years as a refugee. Fery eventually joined him and there they had their two children, Kaveh and Jasmin. Work in his field of Architecture was virtually non-existent, but Kamy began filling his spiritual Life with Bible reading and intentionally trying to follow Jesus more closely, seeking God as a refuge and as strength. 

In 1983, Kamy was invited to be a facilitator for the Tolstoy Foundation, a refugee re-settlement foundation. He saw this as an opportunity to witness to the love of family and Jesus love for those who had no permanent roots, similar to the Holy Family who traveled that lonely Christmas night to find a home as well. Still seeking a home for himself and his family, God’s hand reached down to him and gave him the opportunity to go to America as a refugee family, under the auspices of the Tolstoy Foundation itself. Kamy knew it was a gift from God, as all the passports, paper work and necessary documents were all-of-a-sudden put in place and given to him and his family for secure transport to the USA. This was February 24, 1984. The Moghbeli’s were the only Persian family. Kamy knew that God was continually working in his life – as his refuge and his strength.

Arriving in America, Kamy and his family came to New York, hoping to offer his gifts of Architecture in the Construction-Engineering field, as he obtained his work permit. Becoming a permanent Resident now in America, Kamy and his family had their first contact with organized Christianity in the Lutheran Church, when he and his family were subsequently baptized on March 30, 1986. From disorganization and searching for God in what had previously been a “desert experience,” Kamy and his family were led by God’s grace into the mystical body of Christ. Once again, God had become Kamy’s refuge and strength. 

But it was not without struggle. Following Christ means continual sacrifice, even poverty, but out of the dust of poverty, new life is formed. Kamy worked initially as a laborer, then a scrap collector, at poverty-level wages, still wondering how he could use the God-given talent of his education and vocation to the greater glory of God.

And then, as miracles do happen, Kamy was connected to one of the principles of a successful construction business, which needed exactly what Kamy had to offer. He was asked to become a partner in the corporation, and embarked on a successful professional career in Architectural Construction. Throughout all of this, Kamy saw “God as love,” as he states, and could see how this Jesus had worked along with him, even though he did not know it or was not aware of it at times. 

Keeping his prayer life alive, Kamy became more and more involved in the Lutheran Church, eventually being ordained as a Deacon, first a Parish Deacon, then a Synodical Deacon.

So how did Kamy and his family finally end up at Saint Paul’s, a long way from New York and an even longer way from Tehran? His sister lived in Boca, so after a visit in 2016, the Moghbeli’s decided that Florida would be their new home. They worshiped at a Lutheran Church at first, but did some “church hopping,” as all seekers do, and then, after coming to Saint Paul’s, fell in love with the parish and parish life.

Kamy has a love for fine music, good liturgy, (especially a formalized ritual), good theology and sound hospitality – all of which he found here at Saint Paul’s Church. For the first time in so many years, Kamy did not feel alone any more, God being his refuge and his strength, but also God’s mystical body here at Saint Paul’s also being a refuge and a strength for Kamy and his faith journey.

“I have come home,” Kamy said, and since his arrival, he has become deeply involved in all aspects of parish life, especially Lectio, Bible Study, faithful worship and outreach for Hurricane Irma victims and their relief.

Welcome home, Kamy and Fery and your family. May you continue to find God’s refuge and strength here at Saint Paul’s Church, now and in the days to come.

At Diocesan Convention, with the “Wall of Hope” Kamy coordinated to collect hurricane relief supplies.

Kamy delivering hurricane relief supplies to the Keys.