Where were you born?
Winparrku (Mt Webb), on the northeast edge of the Gibson Desert, in 1949.
What was is like when you were young?
I remember living with my family wandering around the desert until we moved to Haast’s Bluff in the 1950s. We also lived at Areyonga and finally Papunya. At these places I met Pastor Petering and learnt more about the gospel, and also the whitefella world – when I was young I used to eat sugar with my hands!
How did you become a pastor?
In the mid-1970s I started singing gospel music, happily travelling from place to place. I spent a lot of time in the southern Kimberley and the eastern Pilbara. I really enjoyed working among the Walmatjarri people around Fitzroy Crossing and Hall’s Creek. Back then many people said, ‘Hey, you should be a pastor!’ but it was not until 1998 that I was finally ordained.
What other things have you done to help your community?
In 1985 I moved to the brand new community of Kiwirrkura to help the nine people who had walked in from the desert the previous year. They had never seen a whitefella before! In 2003 I went to South Africa. God’s Spirit told me to go to Robbin Island near Cape Town to see where Nelson Mandela had been in jail for many years. Mandela was a good man because he forgave his enemies.
What are the most important things a pastor should do?
He should live among his people, and not be distracted from his work by other commitments. A pastor needs to trust that God will look after him. He should be ‘like a young man all the time’ (always enthusiastic and alert for opportunities to serve God and others).
While Pastor Paul Traeger was interviewing Pastor Jim in his own language, he spontaneously broke out into song a couple of times. One of his favourite songs was written by another Pintupi-Luritja pastor about the earliest missionaries to the Pintupi people. The song mentions Pastor F.W. Albrecht and Kamutu, a famous Indigenous evangelist, who brought the gospel to Pastor Jim’s area in the 1930s. He greatly values their selfless work all those years ago.