Bankstown Serves Neighbours
Bankstown serves its Arabic-speaking neighbours
When many Arabic-speaking families started showing up at Bankstown Anglican’s Mobile Food Pantry, the ministry staff wanted to do more than just feed them. Eighteen months on, a Thursday evening Arabic service teaches the Bible to more than 30 Arabic-speaking families, with Bible readings, worship songs and preaching conducted in their heart language.
More than 20 per cent of households speak Arabic in the Bankstown local government area.
This has been bolstered in recent years large numbers of people arriving from Syria and Iraq, escaping persecution and conflict in the Middle East. The team of faithful and godly Arabic-speaking men and women at Bankstown hope their service will help these people to know the gospel.
What the Bible has to say about persecution
George Bishai, a PhD student at Moore College and lecturer at the Alexandria School of Theology in Egypt, says that through his Bible teaching he aims to help those who have escaped conflict and persecution understand what has happened through a biblical framework.
“While speaking about Matthew’s gospel, I try to highlight the similarities between the trauma they have been through, and the trauma Jesus keeps highlighting in the gospel – both in his own suffering as the suffering servant, and the kind of persecution he told his disciples to expect.”
The bible also speaks into cultural differences
Aware of the cultural differences newly arrived families have to navigate in Australia, Mr Bishai and the team also provide topical teaching from the Bible.
“There are struggles that Middle Eastern families have in Australia with Western culture, around manhood and womanhood, parenting and raising children in a foreign culture,” he says. “I try to seek help from people who were here before me in Sydney.” Another member of the team, Samy Guirguis, preaches these topical sermons.
The gospel of Jesus speaks to everyone
Although the Mobile Food Pantry no longer runs at Bankstown, rector the Rev John Bartik is overjoyed with the way it developed into something more. The service was begun by former staff member the Rev Grant De Villiers, and it was through connections made at the pantry that an Arabic ministry was able to grow.
“I’m delighted – this [ministry] is a great thing,” Mr Bartik says.
“They’ve come from a wartorn country, and now they’re in a foreign land and we’re discipling them in their heart language. They’re not just getting food and practical help, we’re teaching them as best as we possibly can the gospel of Jesus and its impact on their lives.”