I got arrested recently

I got arrested recently.

Normally that’s not something to broadcast, but actually I was trying to get arrested precisely so I could broadcast it.

I got arrested as an act of civil disobedience.

You see, my country has adopted an immigration policy that’s designed to discourage refugees arriving here by boat from Indonesia. This involves using the navy to intercept leaky fishing boats full of asylum seekers and towing them back into Indonesian waters.

It also includes making an example of those poor souls who do manage to slip through our maritime cordon and wash up on our coastline. Those desperate people are imprisoned in detention centres on remote islands belonging to other countries and abandoned without any hope.

No future, no plans, no sense of destiny.

It’s my government’s way of saying to refugees, “Let that be a lesson to you!”

Except this lesson or warning is also being meted out to children, and it’s the kids who suffer the most from their incarceration.

Recently, over 2000 incident reports filed by the staff of these detention centres were leaked by an anonymous whistleblower. They are a catalogue of assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and other effects stemming from the inherently toxic living conditions there.

I’ve read these reports. They describe children not only being assaulted and sexually abused, but cutting their skin, drinking cleaning fluid, swallowing stones and more.

In order to discourage future refugees coming to our shores my government – in my name – is placing children in the unconscionable position of subsisting without hope!

But you can’t live without hope. It’s just impossible.

And so, along with a nun and a group of Protestant ministers, I walked into the Sydney office of the Prime Minister of Australia, sat on the floor, and began to pray for these poor, wretched souls. When we refused to move on after five hours, despite repeated requests for us to leave, the police were called and we were arrested for “unlawful entry on inclosed lands” (that’s not a typo, that’s how the law was framed in 1901).

We did it to draw attention to the issue.

We did it to wake our churches up and ask them whether they are happy for innocent children to be crushed in the gears of our nation’s immigration policy.

We did it because in 10 or 15 years, when our government apologises for this draconian policy (as I’m sure they will one day), and our kids or grandkids ask us what we did about it, we want to be able to say we tried to stop it. It wasn’t much. But we tried.

As I was being led away from the Prime Minister’s office by a fresh-faced young police officer, he asked me quietly, “Have you really been praying there for five hours?”

I guess at his age he couldn’t imagine doing anything continuously for five whole hours, let alone praying.

“Yes,” I said, “it’s that important to me.”

Later, as I reflected on it, I thought it might have been unclear to him whether I was saying freeing children from detention is that important to me, or prayer is that important to me. I kinda hope he thought I was saying both.

Share to:

Subscribe to my blog

Disclaimer

The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Morling College or its affiliates and partners.

Latest Blogs

The Perfect Ash Wednesday Picture

What an eccentric painting this is. Carl Spitzweg’s 1860 painting Ash Wednesday depicts a clown, dressed presumably for Mardi Gras, languishing in a dark and

The Fierce Mother Heart of God

My three-year-old grandson Jarrah has been unwell recently. Really unwell. He has been seriously ill with what we’ve now discovered was a horrible combination of

12 thoughts on “I got arrested recently

  1. Thank you for doing that, and telling us. Here in the UK we need similar prophetic acts, as we are little better than your government regarding refugees.

  2. Thanks Michael. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but like all public demonstrations its effect is only seen later. Many people have told me they hadn’t even thought much about the issue until they saw me making that stand. that makes it feel worthwhile.

  3. Well done Dr Frost.
    We continue to pray, speak out, write letters, sign petitions, and sit in protest at this inhuman behaviour.

  4. My favorite thing is that you reckon it wasn’t much.. civil disobedience is not a small thing, but I know what you mean.

  5. Fabulous stuff. A great witness and I pray that other Baptist catch the fever or re-examine their understanding of the treatment and housing of asylum seekers. Praise God for your commitment.

  6. Thank you.

  7. Mike Frost,

    Well, I’m not impressed with your arguments.
    1. You said: “It also includes making an example of those poor souls who do manage to slip through…”
    False!! It is not easy to return those “refugees” to where they came from. That enables you to give a false impression that they are made an example of.
    2. You said: “…are imprisoned in detention centres on remote islands belonging to other countries…”
    I have no problem with that. Due to legal considerations and practical reasons, they really need to be located outside Australian jurisdiction.
    3. You said: “No future, no plans, no sense of destiny.”
    Have destitute homeless people been coming to your home? Would you given them all a future, some plans and a sense of future? Hypocrisy much?
    4. You said: “It’s my government’s way of saying to refugees, “Let that be a lesson to you!””
    False!! It is not easy to return those “refugees” to where they came from. So you give a false impression that they are being “taught a lesson”.
    5. You said: “Except this lesson or warning is also being meted out to children…”
    False!! Humans can be manipulative. They will bring pregnant women and young kids if they can get in that way. If they succeed in getting in that way, they will keep coming in that manner.
    .
    Mike, your protest is meaningless because you don’t have a solution. Most really come for purely economic reasons. I suggest you go to overseas countries to help improve conditions there so that people are less inclined to pay for a chance with pregnant women in a boat.

    1. Phil Wu,
      I am a supporter of Mike Frost’s writings and missiological impact in the Church. That said, I found this post of his and your response intriguing. They both present an immanent reality of the matter.
      I come from a family who does similar protesting in America but they do so without nearly as much “decency” as Frost’s. My question to my family, similar to your own, is “What difference did your protest make?” “Or are you even trying to create change or just push and alternative agenda?” To which they don’t have much of an answer.

      You said, “Mike, your protest is meaningless because you don’t have a solution. Most really come for purely economic reasons. I suggest you go to overseas countries to help improve conditions there so that people are less inclined to pay for a chance with pregnant women in a boat.”
      I found this harsh, but incarnationally true. Let us wisely put our best efforts into a solution. Here’s what I mean: Instead of holding vulgar signs and yelling at people at abortion clinics (or in Mike’s case–praying in an arbitrary work setting), I have decided to enter into the foster system (in Mike’s case, move to Indonesia so to speak) to help raise the children of these broken families who are usually aborting their children and neglecting the ones they don’t abort. We also financially support non-profit organizations who have a “solutional” hand in deterring abortions. One organization gives free sonograms and pregnancy care to women who are with child. Another organization helps rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts back into society with a higher success rate than clinical organizations.
      Let our lives be a living protest and a living solution. 1 Peter 2:5

  8. Thank you for your social media posts and follow-up on this experience in particular. It is certainly the fruit of what you teach quite eloquently. You have caused me to consider, pray, and act with greater intention regarding the burdens God is impressing on me. So again, thank you, Dr. Frost.

  9. Phil Wu, I’m never convinced by the argument that I have to develop a whole new immigration policy for our nation in order for me to be able to criticize the current one. People routinely criticize our taxation system without being pressured to create a whole new financial system for our country. Our treatment of refugees on Manus and Nauru is reprehensible and any view that we shouldn’t be speaking up for these poor souls is frankly heartless.

    1. I never said you shouldn’t speak up. Do speak up, but please represent the facts accurately without twisting.
      A government has to do what it has to do.
      Fact is, our government is wedged between rock and a hard place. If it is easy to return those in detention centres back to their countries, then detention centres will cease to exist, because ‘refugees’ would go home and other ‘refugees’ will not be encouraged to come.
      Close down detention centres and free all will simply open the flood gate for never-ending streams of ‘refugees’. You don’t have a solution. You merely attempt to open a flood gate without realising.
      Being good-hearted but not recognising reality of the situation just end up being foolish and is harmful overall. Test your own good heart by opening your home to all poor homeless in Australia, but don’t expect others to do the same.
      It’s not about developing a whole new immigration policy. Immigration policy needs evolving to deal with new challenges. Sounds mean but true.

      1. No, it just sounds mean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *