I get this question a lot, and I have to admit - it's a hard one. Not because I'm not doing much, but because what I'm doing is vast and huge and has many implications. Not only that, but I'm only a part of the whole, which is doing even more and is even that much more intricate and vast. Where to start? How to put it into a short blurb so you don't see the ol' eyes glaze over, yet offers enough information to adequately cover the question? Ah yes, that is the trick!
Importantly, and legitimately, I need to clearly communicate what I'm doing. After all, I'm asking people to support me and the work the Lord has called me to! So, I have decided to do a multi-part series that covers this question, as well as the following...what YWAM Perth is doing, my vision and plans for the next 3-5 years (and beyond), perspectives on sharing my needs – outlining the big picture, scripture study on giving to missions and missionaries, a discussion on the standard of living for missionaries, and why I’m in it for the long haul (and what that means).
By they way...did you know that you can receive email notification when I update my blog? It's true! And it's easy! Take a look up at the top of this page - no, not that far up....yeah - there! See in the upper left hand area where the word "follow" is? Just click on it, and put in your email address. Yup - it's that easy.
Okay then - let's get to it. So what is it I *do* exactly?
You probably already know that the ministry I am working with is called "Pathway". The short of it is that we are working with refugees and immigrants as they come to Australia, helping them in a variety of ways as they integrate into this new society. What that means on a daily basis is that I go out and meet with families to help them with practical things like: English, cooking, parenting, driving, navigating the bus system, going to the doctor, explaining bills, budgeting, etc.
Just who are these refugees, you ask? For the most part, they come from "unreached" people groups - meaning people who come from nations where Christianity is restricted or illegal and there is no viable church and less than 2% of the population are Christian. They are brought to Australia because their own country is so unsafe for them - due to war, famine, political unrest, and dire personal threat (of imprisonment, torture and death). They have seen and endured things no human should ever know about. They come primarily from the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central & Southeast Asia. Most are Muslim, although some are Hindu, Buddhist and even a few are Christian.
Most of the time, I am invited to come in to their homes to help them learn English. Although refugees are eligible to receive English training, many young moms are unable to go since they don't drive and have no one to watch after their children. They remain completely isolated. We meet these ladies in many different ways - door knocking, in the mall, on the bus, through social service agencies, word-of-mouth, etc. We make our home visits in pairs, at least until we know a person well. Although we start off with English, it quickly develops into many other areas. Since these women tend to be young moms with small children, one of my favorite ways of working with them is to come alongside them as a mother would and help them in their parenting.
So, as I said, most every day we are heading out to meet with different ladies - two or three per day. Some we meet with weekly, others fortnightly and still others occasionally. This is in addition to the various things happening at the base, such as Monday morning worship, Tuesday & Friday morning intercession, Wednesday afternoon staff meetings, Thursday night evangelism and Friday night meetings!
We are going to be starting to work in the detention centers next month, as well as partnering with local social servce agencies to serve the refugee community. Right now we have two free English classes per week, and will be expanding on that - at the Migrant Resource Center and also at the detention center. When refugees first get here, they spend from several months to a few years in detention while their background is checked out, and so we will be working with the people there. We are also starting to work with the Immigration department, to be the "first contact" for people - picking them up at the airport, and working closely with them for the first 6 weeks they are in the country in finding housing, work, furnishings, getting settled in, etc. All of this with only 2 of us full-time in the department!! We also have another person who is with us 6 months of the year and one more who is with us about 1/2 time as well.
You may be wondering about the spiritual aspect of what we are doing with these ladies. Most of my English lessons are centered around what I would term "Kingdom principles", meaning we talk about unconditional love, guilt and shame, forgiveness, etc. All of this is intended to get the ladies thinking about the bigger picture and how they fit into it, and leading up to deeper discussions of who God is, who Jesus is and what the Bible says. Since almost all of them are Muslim, they already believe in one supreme God, and they respect Jesus as a prophet - but they have been given some gross misinterpretations of who He is. For example, they have been told that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, that he was switched with Judas at the last minute, but no one realized it because they looked similar. In much of this, only the Lord can reveal the truth to their hearts, so a lot of our preparation is spent in prayer, prayer and more prayer, seeking the Lord for His help and strategies.
We also regularly pray with the ladies, and they are very open to this. We are handing out Bibles in peoples' native languages and doing all we can to introduce them to the God who loves them personally and profoundly. Additionally, we have some videos we watch & discuss with them such as the Jesus film, More Than Dreams (this is a major way God is reaching Muslims right now...we Christians aren't going to them, so He is sending His Spirit in their dreams!!), and others like it - they are in the native languages of the people we work with (a lot of them are made by a YWAM Perth ministry called CREATE International).
The Muslim community is considered "resistant" to the gospel, and the reasons for this are deep and complicated. However, we have seen some good fruit in our ministry. One family of siblings are very interested in accepting Jesus as Lord. One of the brothers already has, and the other two meet with us regularly with lots of questions. This is not a quick process, and you have to be willing to walk alongside people throughout it. There are two young men who recently were saved and baptized and are so excited about the Lord. Many others are hungry and eager to learn more. We've seen several who have received instant healing after we've prayed for them - from migraines, back pain, for work. It all works together!
Well, this is a snapshot of what I'm doing here...I feel like I could go on, because there is so much more, but I'll end here! In July I'll be taking a course to earn a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which will take 3 months. This will not only help in what I'm doing currently, but will also help as I move forward into other countries to minister, as ESL is always in high demand.
As I mentioned before, I'm going to be putting out a little multi-part series to address several topics...I expect to get one out per week or so - I'd love your feedback! Thanks and God bless you!