Baptist church quickly welcomes new residents with open arms

Early in 2016 it was announced that refugees from Syria would be coming to Eltham and the local Baptist church quickly welcomed the new residents with open arms.

The Eltham Baptist church made it their mission to ensure that the new residents of their community felt welcomed and began to research ways to help. With the guidance of the church, a group of 40 volunteers began furnishing two units for some of the refugees to live in. However, the project quickly grew beyond the capabilities of the group.

In late 2016 the church applied for a $25,000 Baptcare Community Engagement grant that would allow them to hire someone to oversee the project full time. A keen volunteer that had acted as a leader of the project, Jeanette, was elected into the role and has since been able to coordinate the purchasing and assembling of the furniture for the units.

While the project initially began with two units, it has since grown and with the help of the grant, the church is now working on their sixth unit!

Eltham Baptist Church Pastor, Samual Scott said it was a great joy to see the families moving into the units and settling into their new homes. He said that when they moved in, their excitement was contagious as they touched the different furnishings and showcased immense gratefulness to the team despite the language barrier.

“Those who witnessed it were deeply touched by this profound reaction and for them it made this all worthwhile,” Samuel said.

Thanks to the warm welcome from the church and its volunteers, the Syrian residents have been able to settle into the community with ease. Samuel said that some of them were Christian and that they attended church with the volunteers on Sundays.

“It’s amazing how fast the walls came down and relationships opened up and blossomed,” Samuel said.

Samuel also added there were some Arabic speaking memebers in the congregation who were able to offer support to on family that received news of a personal loss back in Syria.

“It was so good to see the deep sharing between our people and these dear friends in their mother tongue in their time of sorrow,” Samuel said.

Baptcare’s grant has given the project a secure future to ensure that the new Syrian residents can continue to be supported and loved by the Eltham community, allowing for the possibility for more refugees to settle in furnished units in the future.

This project has brought together a group of people that needed support and changed their lives for the better. Together, the Syrian residents and local Eltham community are helping each other in every way they can.

We can’t wait to hear where this project goes in the future.

Contact: Annemarie Watt