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See, I’m doing a new thing

Date: 20 May 2022

When 170 asylum seekers were settled in a local hotel, St Barbara’s Community Church Deepcut grasped the opportunity to help.

St Barbara’s is a new church plant, which met in a car park this time last year, before moving into the new Mindenhurst school on the garrison site in the summer.

“We’d been praying to be a visible and accessible church,” says Minister Revd Daniel Natnael. “The asylum seekers arrival offered us the opportunity to jump in,” he says.

Drawn from Central America, the Middle East and Africa, the asylum seekers needed help with life’s essentials. The church, alongside other local charities and authorities have been supplying additional food, clothing and transport for the families.

Following a successful ‘Welcome’ BBQ, St Barbara’s held a ‘bring and share’ supper on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week this year. Many living in the hotel asked if they could cook their traditional specialities for the meal as a way to say ‘thank you’ for the support they’d been receiving. “They were keen to help,” says Daniel. “So, we took them shopping for ingredients and they cooked the most amazing food for us. It was so tasty.”

On Sundays about 40 of the asylum seekers are joining St Barbara’s congregation for worship services. “We are excited by the numbers but also challenged by how to make our services accessible,” says Daniel. “So now our screen is not only in English but Farsi, the Persian language, and Spanish.

“God has provided us with translators with those language skills just when we needed them.”

The adventure has now spread to a new Deanery Alpha Course which St Barbara’s is hosting. 57 people arrived for the first meeting recently, many more than the organisers were expecting, and after a welcome meal, the course kicked off in all three languages.

“We are taking it as it comes,” says Daniel. “God keeps saying look around, can’t you see, I’m doing a new thing and we’re just making ourselves available,” he says. “It’s exciting.”

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