An Appeal for Prayer
This story has been edited to protect the privacy of the family – Editor.
Greetings from South Australia. We have a very small church here in Adelaide, and we have been praying for some time for visitors and new families to come to church. In February 2015 we were contacted by a refugee family from Sri Lanka, wanting to come to our church. The husband, Brother A, and his wife have three children, the youngest of whom was born in Australia. Bro A’s family had been active Seventh-Day Adventists in the past, but had backslidden. However, when the family came to Australia, they decided they wanted to go to a church regularly. From their first Sabbath in attendance at our church, they have attended almost every week (except for sickness) and have willingly participated in church activities. Not long after first coming to church, they introduced us to Bro A’s brother and sister, who also then started coming to church together with their families. The church has been enlivened by their company and attendance. They have always had many questions to ask in Sabbath School and after the sermon. They have also been having Bible studies.
Soon after the youngest child was born, an unfortunate situation complicated their attempts to settle in Australia. Bro A was accused of a crime he never committed. Due to the visa restrictions, he was imprisoned for one and a half years while awaiting trial. A lot of support was given to the family by the church, as the situation was very difficult for his wife—alone, not speaking the language, without transport, at risk of post-natal depression, and now without her husband. We made monthly visits with the wife to Mt Gambier Prison where Bro A was being held, so that she could see him. The situation was extremely distressing for the family—leaving trouble in their own country, coming to a new country, only to find themselves in more trouble, as if God wanted to test their trust in Him. This situation drew them closer to each other and to God. Due to lack of evidence, the charges were dropped, and the case was dismissed.
At the time of Bro A’s arrest, his bridging visa, which allowed him to stay in Australia until his refugee visa was granted, was revoked. Upon release from prison, he was immediately taken into Immigration detention. Thankfully, he has been allowed to stay in Adelaide, making it possible for the family to visit him weekly. The Lord helped us to find a good Immigration lawyer to help with their application for a Safe Haven visa. Once all the paperwork was submitted, and all their interviews were done, we then waited for a decision regarding their visa.
We had been praying that the decision would be favourable, but on the 28th of February, we were informed of the decision to not grant them a Safe Haven Refugee visa. This means that they now face deportation back to Sri Lanka. We can only conclude that the Lord is testing them yet again that they might continue to trust Him. Their last hope in the process had been the fact that all visa refusals are referred to a Tribunal that reassesses the application decisions. Being an independent body and higher authority, it can decide whether there has been a mistake in the decision-making process and grant a visa; or if they deem that there is not mistake, then they will rule that the decision be implemented and they be deported.
Although the family is trusting the Lord in this matter, we are asking for your prayers for them. They are new to the faith, babes in Christ, and their faith is being severely tested. We have done everything we can to support and help them with their situation. The lawyer prepared an appeal to the Tribunal and submitted this on 27th of March. The Tribunal hearing took place 4th of April. Unfortunately, the Tribunal ruled in favour of upholding the Immigration Department’s decision to not grant asylum. The matter is now being reviewed by a barrister for appeal to the Federal Circuit Court.
As government financial support for the family has now been cut, if you are moved to help this family financially, please contact Br Joe Voncina at the Union Office on 02 9627 7553.
We thank you for your prayers and support.
Your brethren from South Australia