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April 2014 News

Not just a political hotspot

  • Written by  Jess Everingham
Jack and Anne Kamst on Christmas Island Photo: Provided

Christmas Island is one of Australia’s most fertile gospel hotspots, according to missionaries Jack and Anne Kamst.

The Toowoomba locals are home for four weeks after spending the past five months ministering to asylum seekers in detention.

They will soon return to the island for another five months.

“The reason we went is because we heard that the people were really open to the message of the gospel and we have found that to be exactly true,” Jack said.

“The reason they’re so open, it’s because of where they come from; there is so much religious intolerance.”

He believes many of the refugees sought out Australia specifically for religious freedom. Detainees on Christmas Island come from Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan and Syria.

“They have left everything and now have nothing, but because they have Jesus, they truly now have everything,” Anne said.

While the Kamsts are thriving in their work, they say a “major issue’ on the island is mental health. The 1700 asylum seekers are being detained indefinitely, and Jack said the uncertainty is “playing havoc on their minds”, with many depressed or severely bored.

He asked Christians to remember detainees with compassion and respect, saying that more than 90 per cent have been proven to be genuine refugees.

“Anne and I are in the privileged position to teach them the truth from God’s Word which enables them to see this situation from God’s perspective,” Jack said.

“Anne and I have a new appreciation of what suffering is and how as Christians we not only ought to deal with it but also how we can assist those who are suffering.”

Anne said it’s a “huge encouragement” for the detainees to know Christians on the mainland are praying for them.

Still, mothers of the detention centres’ 400 children—100 of which are under five years-old— are fretting at the lack of schooling.

Anne said the children she knows have only been allowed to attend school for two weeks over a seven month period.

She is collecting educational toys to bring back to the island, as well as scarves for the women.

The couple thanked Toowoomba’s churches for their support, particularly their home church, HumeRidge Church of Christ.

“Christians in Toowoomba have been overwhelmingly supportive,” Anne said.

Jack said he is also grateful to the Department of Immigration, which allows them almost 24/7 access to all the detention centres on Christmas Island.

“We feel very privileged to do what we can do,” Jack said. “We treat our roles with the utmost respect.”

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