Believers unite for Nauru prayer vigil

Anglican, Baptist, Uniting Church and Hillsong leaders minister together

Christians from different denominations and of different political persuasions are meeting together to pray for kids on Nauru this evening, with vigils in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Dr. Matthew Anslow, an organiser for Love Makes a Way, and coordinator of the vigils, believes the gatherings are a significant part of the Christian response to the situation on Nauru.

“Prayer is often criticised as a pointless response, and I can understand why it might seem that way for those who don’t share our faith,” said Dr. Anslow.

“But for us, prayer and action are deeply intertwined. Prayer has led over 300 Christian leaders to risk arrest since 2014 as part of Love Makes a Way’s peaceful protests, and countless petitions have been signed and letters written through the work of organisations like Common Grace. In our tradition, prayer drives us to action, and action leads us back to prayer.”

For us, prayer and action are deeply intertwined. – Dr Matthew Anslow

Uniting Church Reverend Rebecca Lindsay led Sydney vigil attendees in lament, and Reverend Kanishka Raffel, Dean of the Anglican Sydney Cathedral, led a time of confession.

“The biblical imperative to ‘care for the stranger among you’ is ancient in origin but brings its challenge daily,” he said, ahead of the service.

“Many Australians now regard our treatment of those detained on Nauru as falling short of the standards we expect of ourselves. The detention of children on Nauru remains an unresolved issue requiring an urgent and more humane response.”

Hillsong’s Hwvar Koshnow, who came to Australia as an asylum seeker herself when she was a child, addressed the gathering saying,

“I don’t take the word ‘home’ lightly…. We all need a safe place to call home. A place to heal. A place to rebuild.

“We pray here today that the suffering for those in offshore detention will end. That they, like my family was, will be given the opportunity to find home and live in freedom.”

She told the gathering that the only difference between her story and the story of families on Nauru, was that her family had been given an opportunity to build a make a new home.

Whilst in past years immigration policy has been a point of contention between Christians of different political leanings, getting kids off Nauru has increasingly become a point of agreement. The vigils themselves were a cooperative effort by several Christian organisations including Love Makes a Way, Common Grace, World Vision, Micah Australia, and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce – organisations that all take a different approach to social justice, but which all want to see kids off Nauru.

“Christians worship a person who taught us to treat others as we would want to be treated,” said Dr Matthew Anslow.

“Regardless of our political leanings, we would never want what has happened to children, women, and men in detention to be done to us and our families.”

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