Common Grace 'Love Thy Neighbour' Ambassador and survivor of the Lindt Cafe Sydney Siege Louisa Hope writes an open letter to London, following the Westminster attack.
Louisa Hope is a Sydney Siege survivor who is determined to take her experience of horror and allow God to transform it into a beautiful opportunity to declare Jesus’ love.
Today, on the anniversary of the Sydney Siege, we are pleased to announce that Louisa has joined our Common Grace team as Ambassador for our ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ campaign.
Louisa photographed by the Daily Telegraph
One year ago today, a lone gunman walked into the Lindt Café in Sydney’s Martin Place, taking 10 customers and 8 employees hostage. So began the ‘Sydney Siege,’ a 16-hour horror that kept Australians watching and praying as our television screens replayed images of hostages standing with hands pressed against the windows, and later of 5 terrified hostages escaping, over and over again. Churches and mosques opened for prayer. Terrorism commentators speculated as to the gunman’s motive. #PrayforSydney trended on social media.
The Sydney siege finally came to an end at 2.14am when Tactical Operations Unit police heard a shot fired inside the café and stormed the building, throwing stun grenades and firing upon the gunman. In the chaos, 34 year Lindt Café manager, Tori Johnson, and 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson were tragically killed, and 3 hostages along with a police officer were wounded.
One of the wounded hostages was 52-year-old Louisa Hope, who was shot in the foot. A committed Christian, Louisa is passionate about her savior Jesus, and about our beautiful country, Australia. She is strikingly full of life and hope, and provides a compelling example of how Christ’s love equips us to live full-hearted, generous lives.
Today, on the anniversary of the Sydney Siege, we are pleased to announce that Louisa has joined our Common Grace team as Ambassador for our ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ campaign, determined to take her experience of horror and allow God to transform it into a beautiful opportunity to declare Jesus’ love. We are thrilled to have Louisa as part of the Common Grace team and can’t wait to begin outworking our shared vision in early 2016.
Q. Louisa, what effect has your Christian faith had upon your experience of the Sydney Siege and the aftermath of the year that followed?
A: My faith is the bedrock of my life. I'm not "religious" but I am a woman who loves God, who prays and who believes that God loves us and is faithful to his promise, as Romans 8.28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Q. Do you have a specific sense of calling now, as someone who is a known as a “Sydney Siege Survivor” and obviously has a lot of public interest in her story?
A; Actually, I can't say that in this regard at least, that anything has changed. This tragic event is not my calling. My life purpose, is to serve God by loving and bringing encouragement to people wherever I can and this has been my motivation throughout my life.
Perhaps now however, I realise that I have a broader opportunity to do that.
I have been blessed to meet some amazing people since the siege, some people well known, but most not. People who like me, feel the grief and sadness of the ripple effects that this event has caused in our country.
Q. Can you share with our Common Grace members around what your prayer is for Australia?
Since the siege, my prayers have been sharpened and the hope that I have always carried in my heart has become more defined. Yes, the Sydney siege hurt our hearts and shook our sense of security, but in every adversity there is an opportunity to recover stronger and better than before. Now, I can say confidently that my heartfelt hope is that Australia grows into the nation that we are destined to be.
Our land and its first peoples are ancient, but the nation we are today is still young, as it has been built on the waves of immigrants who have been arriving here since the First Fleet. I trace my own blended heritage from both Indigenous and Irish stock.
And I am of the view that the true strength of our Australia is not in the resources in the ground, but in our people.
So my prayer is that we would grow through the fear and anxiety that has beset the world in recent times, and turn instead to all that is true and loving. I believe our glorious multiculturalism is a gift, and I pray that its value to us would be renewed as we invest our time and energy and love into realising its potential to unify us.
And so I invite you to join with me in praying for our Nation today. That we can grow in love and grace and extend goodwill to all people at all times, as Jesus encouraged us to. I look forward to joining with Common Grace in the coming months to explore how together we can extend the sincere hand of friendship and be true to our call to love our neighbour.