Forty-five kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, in the heart of the west, lies the suburb of Mt Druitt. SBS documentary series, Struggle Street, portrayed the battles many of the area’s residents face on a daily basis, including unemployment, drug addiction and violence.
One day a week, members of the Mt Druitt Samoan church are striving to make life a little easier for their community. With approval from the local council, they operate a free hot dog/soup stall every Wednesday afternoon in four locations simultaneously.
The initiative was inspired by a fun day held within the church grounds early in 2016, where residents could see some of the services offered by the church, including women’s and youth services. There were jumping castles and face painting, along with a free barbecue and cafe. While pleased with how the fun day went, the church members decided that instead of getting the community to come to them, it was more important that they go out into the community.
“The community is really appreciating the services offered by our church,” Pastor Asofitu Leatuavao says. “Our members likewise are inspired by the positive feedback from the community. It’s encouraging to see people on the street finding hope and meaning when someone just cares in a very simple way.”
“I started noticing more of our youth attending every Wednesday night to help with the hot dog/soup stand than at Friday night youth practice,” muses youth leader Roy Faaeteete.
But the church had even bigger plans. “The next part of our project was to go even deeper, to meet the physical needs of families in our community,” Pastor Leatuavao explains.
"It’s encouraging to see people on the street finding hope and meaning when someone just cares in a very simple way."
With help from Food Bank Australia and money from the church’s personal ministries fund, every Thursday afternoon the doors of the church are opened so that people can collect a large parcel of groceries for their families.
“Running food bank involves preparing the church—the whole church,” Pastor Leatuavao says. “The vision needs to be continually shared and it cannot be done without the commitment and support from our members.”
The various outreach activities have ignited a fire within church members and are building positive relationships within the community.
“Any church can do this,” Pastor Leatuavao adds. “It’s so simple as we see the hand of God leading and guiding the process. Find God’s vision for your church. Share that vision continuously and consistently, speak to your local city council, then just go out and do it. The experience is great and rewarding, inspirational and spiritually uplifting.”