This section will be continually updated as we monitor the latest Australia Department of Health recommendations and WHO guidelines. The most current update will appear at the top of the page.
2 July 2020 COVID-19 Update
We have made the hard decision to cancel our September 2020 DTS. As the world still grapples with Covid-19, we’ve realized it’s unrealistic for us to proceed with the assumption that our borders will open any time soon. (We also currently have six staff unable to get into Australia due to these same restrictions, so the border closures have had significant impact on us as a ministry.)
Australia has largely curbed the spread of the virus due to early closures and stay in place orders as well as very strict border restrictions (only Australian citizens and permanent residents allowed in), and stringent government sponsored hotel quarantine for all Aussies returning home. While we have been given some indication by officials that international student visa holders may be allowed to enter Australia earlier than general travelers, we still have no definitive date and the government hasn’t been able to provide any further clarity as they monitor the constantly changing virus impact both here in Australia and abroad. (The state of Victoria has just seen a resurgence and so even some of our internal state borders are closed, and international borders won’t open before states fully open.)
When will borders open?
We have heard various projections from the government for opening to student visa holders: July 2020 (now off the table), August 2020, end of 2020, January 2021, etc. It’s obviously still VERY unclear. The Deputy Minister of Immigration has recently suggested July 2021 might be more likely for opening our borders, but the truth is no one actually knows. Unfortunately Covid is still gaining traction around the world and our government will hesitate to allow others in until they’re satisfied the risk is sufficiently mitigated. (In saying that, we DO continue to remain hopeful that student visa holders will be allowed in before regular leisure travelers.)
For those of you who are disheartened by this news and felt a pull towards Sydney or our base specifically for our DTS or the Leadership Communal, we encourage you to stay in contact. Our door is always “open,” however the path to our house is temporarily closed. There will be opportunities to join us as we see the lifting of travel restrictions and continue to become established as a ministry. In the days to come we will also continue to look at how to better leverage technology in this rapidly-changing world!
If you are hoping to do a DTS in 2020 we encourage you to explore DTS opportunities within your home countries. (If you are Australian, please consider applying at another Australian base such as our friends at YWAM Sydney Island Breeze or YWAM Sydney 318). If you are hoping to join us for a Leadership Communal we have not canceled, but we are indefinitely postponing and will look to commence as soon as border restrictions lift.
Onward in faith!
While this wasn’t an easy decision, our team feels we are making this call from a place of faith, knowing God has a way of re-working even the most confusing, difficult, or painful circumstances. Our hearts and prayers are with you as you navigate this news and the transition it presents you with.
In God’s care,
YSN Leadership Team
16 June 2020 COVID-19 Update
Hi there friends. We wanted to take some time to update you on what we know of Australia’s border situation. Many of our staff and students feel a sense of frustration, not knowing when or how Australian borders will open up.
As we’ve spent time in prayer about this we continue to sense that this situation is not beyond God and we can trust him. Over and again we sense he’s spoken to us that we are positioned well—in the right place, if you will. God sees us and knows our circumstances. His heart is for us.
Focus, Faithful, Fruitful.
In April we got a message by video from David Hamilton who is one of the key international leaders in YWAM. It was about focus, faithfulness, and fruitfulness. As I’ve sought the Lord in this season, he continues to bring this word to the forefront of my mind, encouraging me to stay focused on him, and faithful to what he says (obedience and aligning my beliefs with his), trusting him to bring about the fruit in due time. Our whole team has been encouraged by this word
Australia’s Covid Response.
Here in Australia our government response has been pretty swift and sweeping, which we’re thankful for. We closed our borders early, even requiring all returning travelers go into two weeks mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival. Currently in Australia, new daily cases have been down in the single digits. (We’ve had just over 7,000 cases in total nation-wide since the outbreak.) Many of our states have also closed borders to domestic travel. At the moment, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania state borders are still closed. Our Prime Minister has made clear that we won’t be opening any international borders until state borders are open, and he has been urging Australian state Premiers to open their borders.
Opening Borders for International Uni Students.
Universities are the fourth biggest sector of the Australian economy, contributing billions of dollars to the economy each year—most of this comes from high numbers of international students. The government has talked about allowing for international students to enter Australia earlier than borders open for “regular” business and leisure travelers. There is a group of large and powerful universities in the negotiating process with the government right now. While it has not been clear to us if their negotiations will ripple down to other smaller institutions such as YWAM Training, we are watching closely as this develops.
At one point the Prime Minister said he was hoping to see an exemption for international students as early as July, but we still have seen nothing that gives us a concrete commitment. Recently they indicated they may allow some students in this year and the rest will need to wait until 2021. They also indicated that the students let in early could possibly come from nations that are deemed “COVIDSafe.” COVIDSafe countries may be places like New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, which have all undertaken very similar measures to Australia in dealing with Covid 19.
As a leadership team we’ve decided to make a call on our September Urban Village DTS by July 1st. Between now and then there are some key meetings taking place to see if we can be eligible for student visa exemptions or if we need to realistically count on the borders being shut to new students through the end of the year. By July 1st we should be able to make a more informed decision about moving forward or postponing the September DTS. (Our border restrictions also directly impact six of our staff and their ability to get into Australia so this is an issue for every aspect of our ministry. Please pray!)
July 1st Deadline.
God continues to speak to people about Sydney and DTS students and Leadership Communal students continue to apply! We are thankful for those who want to come and join our community and grow together, serve together, and discover God together. We are praying for each one of them as we sit in the tension of these unknowns. Please also be praying for us as we make hard decisions with the limited information we have. Please pray also for us as we meet with various officials and explore any avenues for exemption, as well as for the Australian government to make the best decisions they can as they look after our people.
We will update again on July 1st (or earlier if we get information sooner)! Please feel free to keep asking questions and thank you for your patience when we don’t always have the answers. And please continue to pray for those around the world suffering from or susceptible to COVID-19.
27 April 2020 COVID-19 Update
Many of our team operations look different these days as we adhere to social distancing measures prescribed by our state and federal government. We continue to find ways to appropriately serve our neighbours as well as use this time to strengthen our ministry’s infrastructure and deepen our personal faith. Because we are a small ministry we have enjoyed the time to draw closer together as a team, engaged with worship, prayer, bible study, and community building. We also gather with others through online conferencing as needed. As a missions community we see this as a unique time to invest in our core, be refined in our mission to care for our neighbours, and position ourselves to grow into a post Covid world with innovation and fruitfulness.
We continue to accept applications for our September 2020 Discipleship Training School and our staff leadership training program (and our numbers continue to grow!), but we ask prospective students to refrain from applying for visas or buying plane tickets until we have further understanding of where Australian border and travel restrictions will be up to as the time draws near. Please reach out if you’d like to know more.
Thanks for your prayer,
26 March 2020 COVID-19 Update
We continue to adjust and respond to the developments of COVID-19 in Sydney as a community and ministry. Our state—New South Wales—currently has some of the strictest guidelines in Australia and we have carefully and promptly implemented all measures recommended by state and commonwealth health authorities.
Some of our staff members departed over the weekend to be with their family and a few more have flights scheduled for this weekend. (We have no students with us at this time and all incoming outreach teams have been cancelled.) Our remaining team continues to do our part to flatten the curve of infection by staying indoors and adhering to all recommendations laid out by our state and commonwealth health authorities. We have also implemented three times daily cleaning of shared surfaces, twice daily cleaning of light switches and doorknobs, as well as keeping a daily record of temperatures and any symptoms. We’re confident we’ve taken the measures needed to care for our YWAM Sydney Newtown family well. (Please note: We are not accepting guests at this time.)
Normal ministry operations are currently on hold. For now, we are catching up on some much-needed administration, working to create hope-filled digital content, and connecting and praying with people who are in self-isolation or quarantine. We are also using the time to deepen our spiritual lives and grow as a team by doing an online Bible course together. We are lucky to all live in one home so we don’t have to cease meeting together around the family dinner table and to read aloud together, worship, pray, or play games. This is one really wonderful perk of our team shrinking down to the size of a large family of nine.
We wanted to take a moment to especially thank those who gave toward our outdoor garden project. The timing of installing our new grass and having our outdoor area ready to go could not have been better since we are now all confined to our home. We are incredibly thankful for this green space to enjoy!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Adriel & Ryan Booker
20 March 2020 COVID-19 Update
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances which have resulted in national and local government responses all over the world, but in many cases advice changes from one day to the next. We have been watching closely and staying in close communications with other YWAM leaders and elders while we adhere to the most current recommendations given by NSW Department of Health, Australian Department of Health, and WHO.
Since we have no DTSs or overseas outreaches currently in operation, the closures and restrictions do not significantly impact us on a local level here at YWAM Sydney Newtown. In saying that, the small team that lives here is abiding by all government recommendations including how we gather, health and hygiene practices, and social distancing measures. We care deeply about those in our care and are committed to walking this out with both prudence and love as we seek daily updates and adjust our plans, programs, and procedures as needed.
At this point our September 2020 DTS is unaffected and will proceed as planned. If you are still considering doing a DTS in the future we encourage you to proceed with your application process. Of course this is a dynamic situation and we will continue to recalibrate as needed, taking into account all recommendations from health and government authorities.
As a community we are deeply committed to one another and committed to our belief that there will always be ways to “love our neighbours” even when the ways in which we do so must change. This is an opportunity for us to press in to Jesus, stay anchored in our faith, find solace and wisdom in Scripture, and support one another practically as we take all heath and safety precautions very seriously.
Thank you for your continued prayers for us as a community and ministry. We sense a great opportunity to let these circumstances form and shape us to be more Christlike as we seek the Lord and remember that he is not surprised by anything that we face.
Please know that we’re also praying for you—friends and loved ones, partners and supporters, neighbours and family—during these trying times. Please reach out to us any time if you’d like extra support from a distance. We’d love to chat with you and pray for you.
Peace be with you,
Adriel Booker & YSN Team
16 March 2020 COVID-19 Update
Dear friends, supporters, and those connected to YWAM Sydney Newtown,
It’s been a dramatic weekend as the world works to keep abreast of the global COVID-19 Pandemic developments and latest recommendations from local government health authorities as well as WHO guidelines. We have been closely monitoring the emergence and impact of the virus on Australia (and globally), and we are implementing all Australian health and safety recommendations and adhering to the latest travel restrictions. We continue to update team members as new recommendations emerge.
Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and community. We also care deeply about our neighbours—especially those most susceptible to the virus and those for whom social distancing will be the source of further isolation and loneliness. In light of the escalation we have postponed our various gatherings such as Monday night dinners, community worship gatherings, and our English Corner Socials** until further notice. (We do not have any overseas outreaches scheduled until November.)
During this time of uncertainty we are committed to watching out for each other and finding ways we can safely support those in need in our community. Thank you for your prayer for all those affected, and for our team as we monitor the situation daily and adjust accordingly.
Ryan & Adriel Booker
**If you are a local friend in need of support, please do not let this hinder you from reaching out. We will be joining Power to Change’s English Corners online via Zoom. Please let us know if you’d like the details to join us online or if there are other ways you need support.
7 March 2020 – COVID-19 Update
Announcement regarding COVID-19 – We are monitoring the updates about coronavirus and continuing to take precautionary measures as recommended by health officials. At this time no overseas outreaches are planned until November and we are hopeful the virus will have been contained by then. Our local outreach continues as normal, taking into consideration guidelines set out for us by NSW Health.
We are actively looking for ways to serve our community right now as many vulnerable people are left without basic supplies.
Thank you for your prayers and support,
5 February 2020 – Coronavirus Update
You may be wondering how the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak might impact us here in Sydney. We wanted to let you know that as a community we are taking extra precautions as advised by the Australian government to ensure the safety of our staff and students. (Please see this factsheet from the Australia Department of Health.)
Travel from mainland China has been halted and we don’t foresee any immediate threat to our staff or students, however we’re watching the official updates closely as Sydney is a city of immigrants and many residents travel to and from China regularly.
You may be aware that we’re starting a ministry to serve international students at Sydney Uni campus, which borders our neighbourhood (Newtown). As a precaution we are looking at delaying the launch of our English Corner ministry in order to err on the side of caution. We don’t anticipate the virus will impact us health-wise, but we do believe it will lead to increased isolation, fear, and prejudice for international students. At the appropriate time, we look forward to serving these young people to ensure they are welcomed warmly into Australia with Biblical hospitality and practical help and support as they practice English and learn to live in the Australian context. In the meantime, please pray for those directly impacted by the virus and for health officials to be able to contain it and serve those in affected areas.
Thanks for standing with us in prayer,
Adriel & Ryan Booker
Featured Image by Markus Winkler.
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