These past weeks in Australia, we and the rest of the world have been horrified to watch the chaos, and now even the bloodiness unfolding in the Kabul evacuation.
Our hearts have been broken and touched by the fears of so many trying to flee the Taliban victory; certain that if they fail, they face death or imprisonment. We have felt impotent just watching and helpless to act, other than to pray.
But more than just mourn and feel paralysed with this anxiety, a remarkable thing has happened.
The Church in Australia has come together in a significant sign of unity to launch the Christians United for Afghanistan Campaign.
The catalyst for this started just two weeks ago in the Hills district, when 50 pastors and 41 churches wrote to their local MP who happens to be Australia’s Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke. They pleaded with him to support a one-off intake of an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees and to give permanency to those Hazara (Shi’ite) Afghans who fled earlier and can never go back.
From this moment, the campaign grew and churches from across the national were emboldened and mobilised.
Hillsong along with Sydney Anglicans, the Uniting Church in Australia, Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Lutherans, the Australian Christian Lobby, Micah Australia and Common Grace and more, have signed on to support the campaign.
Our call is simple: We, the Australian Church, are calling on the Federal Government to welcome a special intake of an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees, and support the ongoing well-being of all Afghan refugees and their families.
A commitment of this kind is not without precedent:
- In 2015, Tony Abbott as PM, created an additional 12,000 places for Syrian refugees.
- In 1989 Bob Hawke gave asylum to 42,000 Chinese nationals after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
- In 1959, prime minister Robert Menzies lauded Australia’s settlement of 200,000 refugees and celebrated our achievement of leading the world on a per capita basis.
Since the start of the crisis, the Government has announced an initial commitment of providing 3,000 refugee spaces from within Australia’s existing humanitarian program.
We know this is well below what is needed to respond to this crisis, and what Australia is capable of doing as a nation.
This campaign however is not about weaponizing our faith, nor it is about laying blame at the feet of anyone for this crisis.
It is about coming together as the Australian Church, and calling on our government to make a just and compassionate commitment to help the most vulnerable Afghan people. We want to ensure our nation responds in a way that we can look back on proudly in generations to come.
It is centred on the Afghan people who need urgent care and protection and whose dignity, strength and resilience has so much to teach and bless us with should they be welcomed here.
The campaign is working closely alongside the Refugee services sector including the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), and importantly, acknowledges and supports the #ActionForAfghanistan petition and open letter, coordinated by the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network, made up of people from diverse ethnic and religious groups which form the Afghan Australian community.
The response so far has been so surprising, and demonstrated such unprecedented unity across the breadth of the Australian Church, that the secular media has been reporting it.
Something deep in the hearts of Christians has been touched by Afghanistan and it has connected powerfully with the Bible’s teaching that God’s heart is particularly moved by the plight of the refugee.
In John 17 Jesus prays his longest and most heartfelt prayer; it is that His followers would be one as He and His Father are one.
Perhaps the greatest scandal of Christian history is that Christians have been so privately disunited, and worse, publicly divided.
The unity of love between Jesus and His Father needs to be mirrored by our unity and action in His love and in His name.
What you can do:
- Sign the Call: Click here
- Encourage those in your world to sign the call by sharing this link on social channels. The more support this campaign gets – the stronger the message to our leaders!
- Pray – for protection and safety for people of Afghanistan and for those in leadership in our nation to respond with compassion and generosity.