The Easter weekend of 2013 was in many ways no different from any other year for Liverpool South Anglican. God’s people gathered together, remembered the extravagant grace demonstrated at the cross and celebrated the resurrection and new life in Jesus. However this Easter, an unexpected phone call to Senior Minister Rev Manoj Chacko would signal the beginning of a new journey for the church.
On the other end of the phone line was a concerned Anglican minister from another Sydney church. He explained that he had been put in contact with a large group of Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who were desperately seeking help. Unsure of how to help, the minister phoned Rev Chacko who is fluent in Tamil and pastors a congregation with a large South Asian demographic.
Rev Chacko and his wife went to visit the Tamil asylum seekers ready to hear their stories and eager to see how God’s people at Liverpool South could meet their needs. He said, “Getting involved with asylum seeker ministry was quite a natural fit for Liverpool South.”
This began a ministry that would continue to grow over the following three years. Today, the church has a substantial asylum seeker and refugee ministry that supports and cares for refugees from all around the world, including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. With the support of Anglican Aid, ministry takes the form of ESL and homework classes, financial and pastoral care as well as an asylum seeker lunch and fellowship group that meet on Sundays. The church has also been able to employ a community worker one day a week.
These ministries don’t go unappreciated. Many refugee families living in local suburbs struggle to provide for their families. Most asylum seekers are unable to work and survive on 85% of Centrelink’s unemployment benefits. Finding suitable accommodation is also a struggle as many cannot provide rental history. One practical way Liverpool South have been able to help asylum seekers and refugees involved with the church is by providing character references for housing applications.
The ministry has been of mutual blessing, with Liverpool South finding encouragement in the fruit of the ministry. Recently an entire family of asylum seekers were baptised after placing their faith in Jesus.
Rev Chacko said, “Seeing asylum seeker lives transformed for eternity has been exciting! And seeing our members discovering their gifts in this ministry has been a bonus!”
If you would like to support work with vulnerable people in our city, click here to donate to Anglican Aid's Community Care fund.
Related project: Ministry of Mercy for Refugees