Over the years, MAF has nurtured valuable partnerships with Yolngu Christian leaders in Arnhem Land. MAF flies them into the remote Yolngu homelands where they are an immense source of encouragement to the people they meet.
They teach and disciple people in the local language Yolngu Matha, and connect with them in a way that is most suited to their culture. People from the homelands have found hope and freedom in Christ, as they continue to grow in faith every day.
Recently, MAF’s Andrew Macdonald and Divyan Ahimaz flew twenty minutes from Gove to pick up a couple, who were church leaders, from the homeland of Gurrumurru. The closer we got to the homeland, the greener the land became. Gurrumurru enjoys a fertile land with access to both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
Balku and Mary
Balku and Mary, along with Roland Van Der Velde (Ministry Coordinator – MAF Arnhem Land) had planned an outreach to Dhoyndji and Gangan. They started doing outreaches when they felt the need to share what they received from the Bible! It has been two years since Balku and Mary initially partnered with MAF, and they regularly attend trainings held by MAF and its partners.
The stop at Dhoyndji was quick. Balku, Mary and their daughter went around the homeland to call people together for a small message. The sun at noon had brought the temperature up to about 35°C. Balku spoke about how God is slow to punish and quick to forgive. He led his message into the Day of Judgement that is mentioned in 2 Peter. Balku and Mary prayed for the gathering and left. We then left for Gangan.
After about 30 minutes of flying, we landed at the Gangan airstrip. Mary’s brother, Marikuku came to pick us up in the community tractor! We loaded the equipment and climbed on the tractor’s trailer. Marikuku drove from the airstrip to the other side of the homeland, where we stopped beside a tree.
Yolngu gatherings aren’t planned around time, but on how important their relationship is with the other person. This holds true for when they meet together for church as well. The church doesn’t just meet on Sundays, but whenever the community wants to spend time with God – sometimes every night for a few days straight without any agenda whatsoever.
When we reached, the old-man* of the community was preaching. ‘The seed is the Word of God,’ he said. ‘When you practice the Word, you will know God. Come to Him every day, and examine how you stand for Him in this Earth.’ His message to the community was about knowing God which later went on to speak about how Jesus’ answer to Philip in John 14:9. ‘He who has seen the Son, has seen the Father…’ The old-man said, ‘Jesus never worked on his own, but the Father was with him in everything He did. To know the Father, you need to know Jesus! And to know God, you need to know His Word! You cannot go to heaven in a rocket or a plane. Jesus is the only way!’
When the sermon ended, the hymn ‘He is Lord’ was sung in Yolngu Matha. And after a repeat, Balku was given the microphone to share his message.
Balku’s message to the Gangan people compared two instances from the bible – one from each of the testaments. He compared Exodus 32:28, where 3000 people were killed with Acts 2:41, where about 3000 were saved. He explained how during the time of Moses, death came to those who wronged God, and how in the New Testament eternal life came through the repentance of sins, made possible by Jesus.
Balku then led the gathering into a time of prayer and Mary joined him in praying for the people around. A few elders came to the microphone to pray for the community as well. They prayed for the people who were mourning at a funeral in the homeland, for peace and protection. They prayed for a little girl who was sick and that their community would be God’s community. An elder lady from the community thanked God saying, ‘Thank you for bringing Balku and Mary, God. Thank you for the encouragement they are. Bless MAF in their flight! Thank you for sending them here!’
As we prepared to leave, Balku told us that the tree we had gathered under was planted by late Rev. Dr. Gumana in the 70’s, with a vision for church to happen in Gangan. In a sense, it was a reminder that MAF’s ministry flights are seeds being sown in Arnhem Land; seeds that will one day grow to be mighty trees that bring together these homelands for Christ.
*old-man – an introduced word to address an elderly man in the Yolngu community who is respected and looked up for his wisdom in things.