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Ministry support at Grovedale and Geelong.

by Michelle Filipovic.

It’s been six years since St Paul’s Grovedale embarked on a new mission in the Geelong area and five years since the first grant was received from the LLL.

Michelle relaxes with one of the attendees of St Paul’s, Grovedale.The ministry has grown, changed and continues to provide support to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. The ministry’s support has extended now to a joint ministry with 30 people volunteering in a variety of ways from Geelong Lutheran churches, schools and kindergartens.

We continue to support our friends by developing friendships, providing language help, advocating, visiting and providing care and support in everyday life; practically, relationally and spiritually.

The main challenges continue to be learning English as a second language and employment opportunities, although it is pleasing that many have successfully started their own businesses, such as painting, cleaning and landscaping.

The heart of the ministry is mission, occurring (mostly) outside of the church in homes in the community, providing a variety of opportunities for the congregations in Geelong to be involved – from being a friend, mowing lawns and donating items for hamper packs, to sharing the Christian faith by reading the scriptures, sharing stories or praying with them.

We celebrate the faith growing opportunities that have occurred with baptisms, conversions, a wedding and continued sharing of God’s word.

We also celebrate and rejoice at the recent release from the Melbourne immigration detention centre of one of our Tamil friends who came to St Paul’s in 2013. He had been detained because of a mental health issue caused by the pressures of being an asylum seeker. The community supported him in detention; providing advocacy, prayer support, encouragement and regular visits by Pastor Colin Simpkin.

The past six years of ministry has been fruitful and continues to grow and provide muchneeded support as more refugees settle in the Geelong area. We continue to embrace those we serve and share the love of Jesus with them.

In 2018, St Paul’s – on behalf of the Greater Geelong Lutheran Churches – received another $25,000 Mission Stimulus Grant to further assist with the ministry to asylum seekers and refugees. Michelle’s work as a facilitator and coordinator of St Paul’s ministry and mission outreach is expanding to include other Geelong Lutheran congregations.

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