Temora, a country town in the sheep-wheat belt on the road between Sydney and Adelaide, bills itself as “the friendly town.” Now the members of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Temora have a chance to prove how friendly they can be, with the arrival of a refugee family from Iran six weeks ago.
“I think we’re pretty excited,” says Derek Yu, minister at St Andrew’s, who represents Temora Christian leaders on a committee established by the council to assist employers fill long-term vacant skilled job positions in the town of 4000.
“Country towns can be quite Western, monocultural – we have multiculturalism in our town but we’re really glad to embrace people from all cultures and especially those who are in need and those who are moving to a new place.
“Hopefully our congregation can do all we can to welcome them and love them and the fact that we have an opportunity now is very exciting for us.”
The reality of anyone moving to any small town is that news travels fast and everyone knows everyone. Not surprisingly, the arrival of Iranian family has generated some coverage in the local paper.
“I think this is where making people feel loved, welcomed, and at home, even though they might be far away from their home country, is so important. We really want people who move to Temora not to feel isolated and alone, but that they belong and that we care. My hope is that the Church, especially St Andrew’s Presbyterian, can welcome migrants and refugees in such a way that people won’t be able to help but praise God and consider the great hope of salvation that Christ offers.”