On Saturday 26th February a Tamil Christian Church service was held at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Geelong. Joyce Mailvaganam, a Tamil guest from London shared a message, and Pastor Vino from a Melbourne Tamil church led the praise and worship/service.
Ongoing, the Tamil community will be invited to either attend Sunday morning worship or a Tamil fellowship and prayer group in the afternoon at Our Redeemer. This gathering of people is the birthing of a Tamil church plant in Geelong.
We can only give God the glory for the ways in which He has and is working around us, bringing His Kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven. As Jesus leads us toward people coming to know Him as their Lord and Saviour, we are quietly expectant to see the unfolding of a new church.
Historically St Paul’s Lutheran Church Grovedale has been serving asylum seekers, refugees and migrants by means of practical, relational and spiritual support. The congregation were first called to support asylum seekers when some Tamil men arrived for worship one Sunday in 2013.
Now, together with the Lutheran churches in Geelong, St Paul’s Kindergarten and Geelong Lutheran College, the Grovedale congregation supports approximately 23 households of families and individuals. Nationalities supported include Iranians, Afghans, Tamils, Haitians and Kurds, with the Tamil community being the largest group the community walk with.
Lay worker Michelle Filipovic writes ‘The ministry to our families is practical, relational, and Pastoral. We have walked closely with our families, assisting them as needs arise. Doing life alongside them whilst offering prayer, reading scripture, and sharing God’s love and the gospel in very gentle and loving but bold ways.’
Practical support is offered via donating and distributing non-perishable food, prayer support, helping with delivering large items as needed, advocating and making referrals for support, teaching in-home English lessons, resourcing community opportunities for volunteering and employment, providing general support to families eg transport to appointments, and connecting, supporting and creating friendships with people through visiting them in their homes.
The ministry works closely with community organisations in Geelong such as Diversitat Asylum Seeker Program, Barwon Health, 3216 Connect Charity group, Geelong Mums and the Baptist and Uniting churches.
Michelle shares her favorite Bible verse;
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” and commments ‘I love this verse because of the evangelistic heart of God. God’s will is that everyone would know Jesus and have eternal life. This is my heart for those who do not know Jesus as their Saviour especially in my role with Asylum Seekers and Refugees. It is good news because it simply says that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved. A simple message and truth to share with the world. It also reminds me of the Lord’s prayer, ‘your will be done’, this verse says His will is ..’that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life’. It is the great commission, the sharing of the gospel to all nations.’
Michelle has also added these prayer points for the ministry to Asylum Seekers
1. That their Visa applications are approved
2. Provisions for Bridging VISA families who receive no Centrelink payments nor a health care card
3. Open Hearts for families who don’t know Jesus yet, that as we serve and minister to them. they would hear and receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
This article was put together from a variety of sources including the St Paul’s Grovedale website and an article for The Lutheran. We thank Michelle Filipovic for her input and for the photos provided.
Top picture Pastor Boyd Briese with one of the Tamil leaders
Below: signage for the new Tamil Christian Fellowship