MCC Alumni Abigail Crombie travels to Israel to volunteer her services

Abigail Crombie was born in Jerusalem in 2002, the youngest of four daughters to ex-patriates Kelvin and Lexie Crombie, who had been residing in Israel for more than twenty years. Abigail’s father was born and raised in Western Australia and travelled to Israel in the late 1970’s seeking the truth to life – and became a follower of Jesus as a result.  Abigail’s mother grew up in the Netherlands with a sense of importance for the Jewish people in her Christian faith and moved to Israel to work as a nurse with the elderly, including Holocaust survivors from World War II.

In 2009, the family returned to Australia, and Abigail began Year 1 at the Primary campus of Mundaring Christian College (MCC) on Walker St, Mundaring. Her schooling years flew by, and she graduated in 2020 with high marks and an offer to pursue Forensic Biology & Criminology at Murdoch University.

Abigail, during her student days at the Parkerville campus of Mundaring Christian College.

The urge to take a ‘gap year’ overseas and visit Jerusalem, her birthplace, was not an option in late 2020 with pandemic conditions and the COVID-19 restrictions only permitting essential travel at this time. After two years at Murdoch and travel restrictions easing, the chance to defer studies for a short time and visit Jerusalem became a reality in 2023. 

Abigail flew to Israel and volunteered at Christ Church in the Old City (where her parents had attended and her father had worked for twenty years previously), especially in the guest house. Her menial work was enhanced by the opportunities that were presented to her – relearning Hebrew, hiking and exploring through the land of the Bible, and appreciating the Hebraic roots of the Biblical writings. 

Soon after deciding to stay for a few more months and confirming her flight extension, the October 7 Hamas attack on numerous sites in southern Israel occurred. This led to wartime conditions in the country. The terrorist attack upon numerous towns and farming communities (kibbutzim) resulted in thousands of Israeli citizens evacuating to safety in places around the country, one being Jerusalem. “There were many Israeli families who came to us seeking a safe haven from the rockets,” said Abigail.

The guest house where Abigail was volunteering, always busy with foreign tourists and various local ministries serving Israelis and Arabic-speaking people, was now bustling with Israeli families seeking shelter from the daily rocket attacks that have continued for the last six months – even from neighbouring countries. Thankfully, the local ministries for the poor and disadvantaged in and around the Old City of Jerusalem are still continuing, aided by the workers and volunteers of Christ Church.  

“Having a mix of volunteers on staff has allowed me to work with people from various backgrounds – Messianic Jews, Arabic-speaking Christians and nationals from across the world.”

“The terrorist attack also had a negative effect in that foreign workers and farmers stopped working in the rural areas due to safety concerns. Occasionally, we were able to go out and pick fresh produce that was being left unpicked and would have gone to waste. These weeks and months were very challenging for everyone living in Israel, but people came together to support each other.”

As the fighting escalated, the community’s needs grew, and Abigail travelled one day a week to the city of Tel Aviv, where she worked in a women’s shelter. The area was in a low socio-economic part of the city, with substance abuse and prostitution prolific in the region.

So, what’s the difference between Mundaring and Jerusalem?

“Since leaving school and all the experiences I’ve had since then, it’s become so obvious to me how grateful I am for the life we have in Australia – the freedom to speak our opinions, the freedom to practice our religion, the freedom to live our life how we want to.

This is not how the majority of the world is. We should explore the world, and I encourage everyone to do this. Experiencing new cultures means things will be different from what we have grown up with.”

So, what is it like to volunteer in a region of the world engulfed in conflict and different ideologies?

“Working in an environment where you don’t gain anything but the satisfaction of helping others has been so beneficial. This can be quite counter-cultural for us initially. Many of the social programs in the world depend on volunteers, and volunteers run a number of the programs we grew up with. It has given me a new appreciation for these people.”

“We live in a country overflowing with opportunities. We need to take advantage of them, not take them for granted.”

The Mount of Olives overlooks The ‘Old City’ in Jerusalem, where Abigail is based.
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