The first week in January I travelled to Port Augusta with a team from Adelaide to run the kids program at the National Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship Congress. This congress is run every two years and gathers Aboriginal Christians from all over Australia. Every morning we ran a kids program from 9:30-12:30 and had about 30-40 kids attend each day. In the evenings, we joined the whole congress for worship and to hear various speakers. It was a great experience and an honour so serve our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in Christ. Our team was a pretty “rag tag” bunch from many nationalities and we all were imperfect people. It reminded me of Jesus disciples who were also a pretty mixed bunch that you would not necessarily think would be the best selection for a team!
A few things stood out to me from sharing with our Aboriginal church communities. Firstly they love Jesus and understand probably much better than we do that they are made in God’s image and are deeply connected to the land and to creation. Secondly, they do community much better than we do and talking to each other is more important than running a slick and “polished” program. Thirdly, they do carry deep scars relating to our shared history and we need to listen to them and support them firstly as fellow Christians over and above as “fellow Australians”.
Their art and the way they portray God and the gospel through their art is incredible and very powerful. Several decades ago there was a revival that started at Elcho Island and spread around Australia. My hope and sense is that for God to reconcile the deep hurts in our national psyche relating to our first nation people, it should come through and be led by our Aboriginal Christian brothers and sisters. We have all been reconciled to Christ and it is only through him that true reconciliation can happen between white and black. There is something truly significant in our first nation peoples gathering from across the land to worship God and pray for his Spirit to be at work in this land – their land, our land.
As an extra treat, we also got to baptise one of our team members from Westcare Baptist under the Port Augusta bridge toward the end of the week. That was an extra bonus to see God at work in her life over those few days. Let’s continue to pray for the work of God among our Aboriginal communities and may that work flow over into our nation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Grace and Peace - Garry