It’s NAIDOC Week around Australia; For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it’s a time to reflect, celebrate and be proud of a rich and diverse culture– one that has survived against great adversity.
NAIDOC is famous amongst the Indigenous population of Australia, but outside of our community its fame and importance is lost. There are varying reasons for this, but I believe it can be aligned to the fact that NAIDOC originally started as a protest and a day of mourning (as opposed to the week-long celebration of culture that we observe today). It is also a popular view in Australia that when Indigenous Australians gather together it has to be to protest some atrocity or ill treatment (as depicted by mainstream media). If that is your opinion of NAIDOC you are certainly missing out!
NAIDOC Week is the greatest opportunity for God’s people to get involved and engage with the Indigenous community. If you have Indigenous people in your towns and cities, they will be celebrating NAIDOC is some way or form. The church as a whole must get involved and play a role in fostering better relationships and empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Not because they need it, but simply because we need to be showing the love of Christ in a practical and tangible way.
The Indigenous community in Australia is generally suspicious of the church universally, so we are up against it from the outset. Jesus loved a challenge– so should we! The Indigenous perspective of the church has been tainted by the role the church played in controlling Aboriginal people during the colonisation of Australia.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth.
I’ve heard this scripture time and time again in modern day church, but in my experience it has never been applied to the local Aboriginal people in this land. I believe we must not forsake the former for the latter. We must be God’s witness in our own back yard and within our own community before we can take on the ends of the earth. However, it seems that it has always been easier for the Church to take on the mission fields at the far end of the earth.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Indigenous people in Australia are God’s people… they are called by his name… if they can’t pray and seek His face because they don’t know his true essence, then it’s up to the Church to present a new and relevant response. Imagine if God healed the land in Australia? He wants to…. He just needs the Church to be His hands and feet.
I am encouraged by the things I see the church do, and I must acknowledge Ps Wayne Alcorn, Ps Darryl Lingwoodock and Jennifer Bishop of the Hope Centre in Brisbane who have provided a way for 80 volunteers from their church to serve the Indigenous community in Brisbane during NAIDOC Week celebrations at the Musgrave Park Family Fun Day. The Musgrave Park Family Fun Day is the single largest celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture in Australia and is attended by approximately 26,000 people. This event has prospered over the last 4-5 with the support of Hope Centre and its people. I encourage you all to find a way to get involved wherever you are. Happy NAIDOC everyone.
Author: Scott Anderson.
Scott Anderson is an Indigenous Business Consultant and Entrepreneur. Scott is a decendant of the Nywaigi and Biri people of North Queensland. Scott is also a member of the ACC National Indigenous Initiative and has worked exclusively within the Indigenous community for over 20 years. He is the father of 2 baby girls and married to a psychologist wife– There is never a dull moment in the Anderson household. The Andersons attend Calvary Christian Church in Townsville.