As we move from Refugee Week to NAIDOC week, it’s fitting that we listen to Academics Mark Brett and Naomi Wolfe as they explore the roles of guest and host in the Australian context. This piece is an edited excerpt from a NAIITS Conference paper. The full paper will be published in the NAIITS Journal later in the year.
At St Mary’s Woodend and St George’s Trentham in country Victoria we pray every week for people in the world who are displaced by war, violence, climate change, and famine.
It is our sincere belief and hope that God will hear our prayers and that our hearts will be joined to those who are in need.
In recent weeks we have been increasingly worried about refugees and people seeking asylum detained on the Island of Nauru. The expulsion of doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières has further increased our concern, and reports of children as young as nine having suicidal thoughts and tendencies break our hearts.
In response to this, we are joining with several other churches in Melbourne and around Victoria, and at 5pm every Friday until Universal Children’s Day on November 20th, will toll the church bell 95 times. One toll for every child held on Nauru by the inhumane policies of Australia.
It is our hope that the sound of the bells will alert people to the plight of these innocent and desperate children and that they will be moved to pray, and write letters or emails, and make phone calls to their local parliamentarians to call for these policies to be changed.
We are fortunate that we live in a beautiful and peaceful part of the world, where we do not have to worry about war or famine, and where our children and grandchildren are safe; but we are well aware of our duty, as followers of Jesus Christ to pray for and help the vulnerable. We know that we cannot claim Christ as our saviour unless we actively seek to lift up the lowly.
The ringing of our church bells is one way to do this. It is one way that we can say to our communities that we stand with refugees and people seeking asylum, and encourage them to do so, too.
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Rev’d Melissa Clark is a Common Grace supporter and Anglican Priest at St Mary’s Woodland in country Victoria.