Christ in the ‘Top End’
Nungalinya College, situated in Darwin, is the premier ecumenical Bible and community development training facility for Indigenous students in Australia.
A range of courses is offered, including Foundation Studies (English literacy and numeracy courses taught through the major narratives and characters of the Scriptures), Art & Faith, Ministry & Theology, Media and Music, and Bible Translation.
Nungalinya is formally supported by the Anglican, Uniting and Catholic churches of the Northern Territory, but over the past five years there has been significant growth in students attending from Lutheran communities.
In 2022, 15 Lutheran students graduated from various courses. All expressed a desire to continue to grow in their faith and ministry by enrolling in a new course, as it is more than just the classroom learning that is precious. Students highlight the fellowship with brothers and sisters from different languages and communities as a real inspiration, as well as the time of reflection and peace, away from some of the pressures of community life.
From the college’s perspective, it has been a real blessing to expand our appreciation of the rich history of the Finke River Mission and to include more prayers, songs and Bible readings in the First Languages of Pitjantjatjara, Pintupi-Luritja and Western Arrernte. Pastor Rodney Malbunka and translator Carolyn Windy have also been involved in our recent Languages workshops, making recordings for future generations of mini-sermons in Language on the Gospel of Mark, Genesis 1–15 and Acts 1–10.
Karina Napangardi Penhall has been coming to Nungalinya since 2016 and completed her Certificate IV in Christian Ministry & Theology in 2021. This year she graduated from the Art and Faith course. This is what she had to say about her experiences at Nungalinya:
God telling me to keep coming back … I did Certificate I, Certificate III, Certificate IV and now Art! Nungalinya made my faith go stronger … learning a lot of things at Nungalinya, making friends with people. I always trust God to bring me here.
It has been hard for me, far away from home, but the Lord is with me. Nungalinya is a special place, different community, different languages, to make friends with – and it’s really good.
We are one big, happy family in the college – like the song in chapel, gathering together. I really love this, God bringing me here, learning new things, reading in chapel, that makes me real strong.
Ben van Gelderen is Principal of Nungalinya College.