Listen: Hannah Alexander from Our Year Outdoors asks for prayer for the people of Devonport
The community of Devonport, Tasmania, will have a sombre Christmas after six children died in a horrific jumping castle accident at Hillcrest Public School.
Hannah Alexander from Our Year Outdoors lives in Devonport with her pastor husband and three children. Fortunately, none of her children were involved in the tragedy, but being part of such a small community means everyone is affected.
Hannah said being this close to such an extreme tragedy has been the biggest challenge of her life so far.
“I think the news keeps saying ‘the community of Devonport are reeling’, ‘the community of Devonport are in mourning’ and I definitely associate with that,” Hannah said.
“It’s a small town, the school is just down the role from our house, we know many, many families connected to it, many staff, the chaplains who are involved, there’s nobody who’s not affected by this horrendous tragedy.”
“This is very significant for many families, particularly many children who have lost multiple friends, who’ve experienced the trauma of the actual event, there’s a lot of families deeply affected by this. It’s going to be a long road for these families and these kids.”
Hannah said that it is important for parents to keep talking to their kids.
“You can see it on everybody’s face that something very dramatic has happened,” she said.
“We need to hear our children. We need to accept their feelings. Just listen to their questions and validate the worries that they have.”
“We need to hear our children. We need to accept their feelings. Just listen to their questions and validate the worries that they have,” – Hannah, Devonport, Tasmania
But she said it’s also important to provide spaces for play and for normal things to happen.
Hannah asked people of faith to pray for the people of Devonport and particularly for the children.
“My heart particularly is for the children of Devonport. It’s unthinkable to think of children grieving multiple friends at once, but that’s what’s happening for some of our beautiful children here. And they need our prayers more than ever.”
For those who wish to help, Hannah personally recommended the work of two faith-based charities, who enjoy support from all the churches in Devonport. Fortunately, an unusual level of cooperation between local churches means they are well placed to help care for grieving locals.
How you can help the Devonport recovery efforts
Devonport Chaplaincy – chaplains have been in schools in the area including in Hillcrest Public School for many years. Those chaplains will be there supporting families for years to come.
Loaves and Fishes were already distributing hampers to thousands of families in Devonport this Christmas. That need that will only increase as a result of the disaster.
A Prayer for Devonport by Hannah Alexander
We call on you, the God who is near.
The God who sees us in our distress and has not forgotten us.
We cry out,
we put on sackcloth and ashes.
For these children we have lost,
for their parents,
their families, big and small,
for the school staff,
the first responders,
the chaplains and counsellors,
the doctors and nurses,
the ambulance drivers,
the news reporters.
Oh Lord, we pray for the survivors.
For the children who are injured.
For the children whose lives have been devastated by this unthinkable suffering.
Who have lost friends or brothers, sisters or cousins.
For so many who are broken and hurting.
We pray for an outpouring of your presence.
We pray for those in our community, whose lives were already impacted by trauma.
Who had already walked through seasons of pain, grief, sickness, disability, loss, abuse, rejection, or broken relationships.
We call on you as the God who is close to the brokenhearted.
In Devonport, this morning, there are so many.
Lead your people, Lord, to love this city in its moment of despair.
And Father, we thank you that it was into our world’s brokenness that you came.
We pray that this morning, you will help us to follow your light of hope.
The light the shepherds and mystics followed two thousand years ago.
That told them that the kingdom was coming and had now come.