In August this year ABC News reported that BHP Billiton would axe about 380 jobs, mostly from the Olympic Dam mine in Roxby Downs. Also in August, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Beyond Bank would shut its Roxby Downs branch by October.
The community of Roxby Downs are hurting and BCA Field Staff the Lewises, Lukes and Hills have all been reaching out to care for their community. They have observed more empty houses, more removal trucks in town, and know the impact will be felt in businesses, schools and the town’s economy.
Barry Luke, who works as the site chaplain at Olympic Dam, has felt first-hand the anguish some of the people have been feeling.
“These days it’s never a case of going down to the local supermarket, getting the bread and milk and coming home,” says Barry. “People always want to stop and talk as the community is hurting from redundancies. It’s important to be aware of how the conversation might go right from the start. If they’ve been made redundant – it’s a case of asking if they have any plans in place and how we can help.”
The Roxby Downs Community Church offer food and fuel vouchers as well as homemade frozen meals.
“We haven’t had to give out a lot of vouchers or meals but the offer is made,” says Avril Luke. “People don’t like to be beholden to anyone. But at least the offer is made. We are offering a practical, real side of God which hopefully breaks down barriers and any preconceived ideas of who God is.”
While Joel and Hannah Hill have been meeting up with people studying the Bible and encouraging those affected by redundancy, they have also been offering practical help. “When we moved to Roxby, Hannah and I decided to buy a trailer to get our stuff here,” says Joel. “Part of the reason for that decision was that we thought it would be handy as people are always looking for a trailer to borrow. Now it spends about 50 per cent of its time out of the driveway. It has been a way of practically caring for people who are moving. We can go and help and it gives us a chance to catch up with people and see how they are going. ”
Mary, Barry and Joel are Jesus’ representative to those who are hurting. “We are God’s hands and feet,” says Barry. “Sometimes we are God’s ears; people just want us to listen to them. Then sometimes it goes past that; telling them there is someone who loves them. I might ask – are you OK if I pray with you? If they say yes, then we pray together. If it’s no, then I ask if I can pray for them later. I am God’s agent. What I am wanting is for people to see God – the love of Jesus being extended to them.”
Our Field Staff ask for your prayers for the community of Roxby Downs. “It’s not only the people who are losing their jobs that we need to pray for but those who are being left behind – those who are losing their friends,” says Avril. ‘Our prayer is that each follower of Jesus in Roxby would be available and ready to show Jesus’ love at a time when people are quite hurt.”