Detained But Not Defeated
Updates on our ministry at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre (YHIDC) to share the gospel message with keen detainees
Detained But Not Defeated
by The Revd Katrina Holgate and Jonathan Holgate
On Friday 30 January 2015 Jonathan and I embarked on a journey, one that continues to this day and one for which we are incredibly grateful to God. We attend Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre (YHIDC) to share the gospel message with keen detainees. We do this through bible study and Holy Communion once a week, a one hundred and sixty-kilometres round trip from Guildford. Our contact time is limited to two hours, the security is high as you would expect, but it is worth every kilometre and every minute. We are grateful to SERCO and the staff at YHIDC, who go out of their way to welcome us and make our visits possible. Over the years several detainees have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and it gives us such joy to journey with them and to see them encouraging and supporting one another in their faith.
Our ministry to detainees, asylum seekers and refugees does not stop at the detention centre, when asked, we endeavour to attend their tribunals, write letters of support where we can and we make every endeavour to stay in contact with detainees who have been released into community, helping with visa renewals, life’s struggles, and challenges of which there are many.
A smile and gentle encouragement can go a long way, this year we gave the detainees packs of Mothers’ Union Christmas cards for them to send to their family and friends, they were met with much appreciation, and we hope that closer to Christmas, we will be able to give them chocolates to share with their friends as we have in previous years.
The Christian detainees run a Sunday service often taking it turns to lead. One of the detainees has been leading a service in Tamil and English and has recently written some Christian songs in Tamil. John Macpherson (Parish of Bull Creek-Leeming) is helping by creating a backing track. The title of this new song ‘Two-fold Blessings’ is very apt; Jonathan and I are greatly the privileged to be involved in the lives of the detainees each week, sharing the love of Christ through God’s word, with music, joy and encouragement.
One of our hopes and dreams for YHIDC this Christmas is for a group called Island Breeze from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) to perform. The Island Breeze team believes ‘God has placed beauty, art and celebration uniquely in every culture and that music, dance and performing arts have the power to bridge cultural divides, touch people’s hearts and open doors for the gospel. As Island Breeze, we seek to unlock this potential to spark hope and share the Good News’. We are grateful to SERCO and Border Force for giving approval for this performance to go ahead. We have seen Island Breeze in action over many years and hope that it will bring some joy and encouragement to the detainees and staff at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre. And we are particularly thankful to St Mary’s, West Perth, for their support which makes this ministry possible.