Messages of Hope

#Bring Them Here!

Published / by Sandy

Judith Raftery reflects:

Let not your hearts be troubled . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2). These well-known words were part of one of the readings at the service I attended on 1 May. The songs we sang reiterated their message of comfort and reassurance: “Nothing can frighten, nothing can trouble”, and “We know ourselves beloved”.

None of it brought me any comfort. In fact as the service proceeded I became more and more troubled and agitated. I thought about the appalling disjuncture between these words and the comfort and security they offer, and which we claim, and the realities of the ghastly, life-destroying limbo to which our government has consigned the asylum seekers and refugees detained on Manus Island and on Nauru. Eventually, the prayers of the people gave me an opportunity to put some of my anguish into words.  How can the hearts of those detained on Manus and Nauru be other than troubled? How can they believe themselves to be beloved? Who will prepare a place for them? How can we go on about justice and love while these travesties remain?

These questions have troubled me for a long time of course, but the events of the last week gave them a new sharpness. I was filled with hope by the PNG government’s announcement that the Manus Island Detention Centre, where 850 men who have sought asylum in Australia are incarcerated, is unconstitutional. How quickly that hope was dashed when our federal government, knowing it could speak for the opposition as well, declared that, should the centre close, there is no way the men will be allowed to come to Australia. Not our responsibility. Not our problem. Let them go back to where they’ve come from, or let them stay in PNG, or be taken to some other nearby nation (which will almost certainly be impoverished and unable to provide adequately for them). Let not our nation be troubled with their needs; let us not prepare a place for them; and let’s not entertain talk of our responsibilities under international conventions, or of the obligations arising from our shared humanity or our claims to be decent and compassionate people.

My heart remains troubled, but also hopeful because I know I am not alone. Here at Pilgrim — and elsewhere in our city — there are many who share my anguish and anger and who are ready to contribute, right now, to building a groundswell of political opinion and action that our government will disregard at its peril. My hope is that my raw and unrehearsed interruption into Sunday’s service might nudge us into finding the energy, courage, imagination and preparedness to reorder our priorities that this will require.

#Bring them here!

A national day of prayer for mothers of people in Australia’s offshore detention centres
As we celebrate and spoil our own mothers this Sunday, let’s also pause together to pray for the mothers of people who are in detention, particularly people on Manus Island at this time of great uncertainty. Most of us know how worried and anxious our mums can get! Mothers and families – who may be across the other side of the world – are the forgotten victims of detention. The uncertainty of knowing when your child will we be free, or safe, or healthy is a debilitating burden to bear.

Creator God,
Who was with the Mother of Moses as she suffered the loss of her missing child,
Who was with the Mother of Jesus as they fled together through the desert,
And who loves the mothers of the young men who have been treated so cruelly on Manus,
See the fears they carry in their bodies,
See them tossing in their sleep.

Creator of Justice and Mercy,
Who inspires in the heart of every person a desire to be good,
Who weeps about the violence of our collective sins,
And who loves our politicians who are responsible for those young men.
See the fears they carry in their bodies,
See them tossing in their sleep.

Creator of Community,
Who is the embodiment of perfect community,
Who challenges everyone to love their neighbour and their enemy.
And who invites everyone to eat together at the table,
Grant us the vision to see all those mothers who are not in front of us today,
Grant us with courage to welcome the stranger.
(Source: Australian Churches Refugees Taskforce)

To all those on Manus and Nauru – #staysafestaystrong (send a message of solidarity in this campaign)

Adelaide information
On the first Thursday in each month, there is a gathering of people at the front of Pilgrim (12 Flinders St) to give witness to the need to demonstrate care and compassion to refugees and asylum seekers. Please feel free to join us. More information on the Facebook Page, Standing with Refugees.

There is a new refugee group in Adelaide meeting, Refugee Advocacy Collective.

Some of you may be interested in knowing about ‘phone top ups’ for men on Manus – their only connection with the outside world: families, friends, and advocates and supporters in Australia. Talk with Sandy if you want to find out how to assist in this practical way.

You might like to get involved in The Welcome Centre, supporting new arrivals, teaching English, supporting refugees setting up businesses like Ayla’s Cafe, and practical skills development offered to refugees and asylum seekers through Hope’s Cafe and Experience Cafe. And there’s so much more – in advocacy, in practical support, in prayer, in growing awareness. If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to make contact.

SYRIAN FAMILIES are now arriving in Adelaide.
There is an ongoing need for:
* floor mats/rugs/carpets
* blenders/kitchen mixers
* large stainless steel cooking pots and saucepans
* juicers
* TVs
* Microwaves
* CD and DVD players
* low coffee tables
* floor mats and rugs
* warm jackets/coats/rain coats
* back packs
* heaters
* fans
* pressure cookers
* clothes airers/dryers
* fridges
* wardrobes
* lounges
* chests of drawers
Please phone or SMS if you can source any of these in clean and good condition. Merri 0417864548