A shared life

We cannot imagine Westgate Baptist Community without refugees. In 1993 three members of our church visited Mae La Refugee Camp on the Thai-Burma border. The Bible tells us a mustard tree grows from a tiny seed, and that visit to Mae La certainly transformed our church. We now share ministry and facilities with a growing Karen congregation. Westgate also hosted an ethnic Chin Burmese congregation for several years, until the congregation became too big and moved to other churches. We support a playgroup for refugee parents and children in the Sunshine area.

Since 2014 teams from Westgate Baptist Community have visited Malaysia to volunteer in schools run by Chin refugees from Burma (Myanmar). Because refugee children in Malaysia cannot attend government schools, refugee communities run their own schools.

Each year, we hope to arrange two visits to the refugee schools and support agencies. Depending on participant’s skills we teach English, write funding applications, fix computers, or teach violin!

Through our fundraising we buy text books for the refugee students, help to fund teacher’s salaries, school lunches, and associated school costs.

Much of this work happens through the ministry of Westgate Refugee Support.

In preparation for one of our visits, students at St Therese’s Catholic Primary School wrote and performed a song for the refugees in Malaysia – ‘Light the Dark’.

‘I was a stranger and you invited me in’. – Jesus

‘I enjoy our frequent trips to work with the refugee communities in Malaysia. It’s a meaningful way of connecting with Westgate’s long standing support of refugees here in Melbourne and in South East Asia’. – Laurie