It is with great joy that we welcome longtime SIL linguist David Strickland, who has joined the Finke River Mission team as a support worker in the Anmatyerr Language Area. This position has been vacant for three years and in that time two Anmatyerr pastors have been called home and a third has retired.
David is no stranger to FRM or the Anmatyerr people. In fact, together with his wife Ming Fang, he has been working closely with the people for 18 years, learning the language and translating parts of the New Testament into Anmatyerr. In the 2021 winter edition of Christ in the Centre, we celebrated the publication of the Anmatyerr Mini- Bible, which included two Gospels, the letters of Peter and James, and Paul’s pastoral letters.
This work began as a shared partnership between FRM and SIL/Wycliffe. FRM purchased a house in Ti Tree (in the heart of the Anmatyerr area), where the Stricklands lived for many years. During this time David’s language skills have been an invaluable resource in FRM’s regular bush courses.
David and Ming Fang continue to work as SIL and Wycliffe Bible translators but have agreed to work part-time (0.3 FTE) for Finke River Mission in encouraging and teaching the Anmatyerr Lutherans, especially trainee pastors and community leaders. Now that they finally have a Bible in their language, the people are excited and keen to learn how to read and understand it. As the Ethiopian believer confessed, ‘How can I [understand] unless someone explains it to me?’ (Acts 8:31). As we know, ‘faith comes by hearing and what is heard comes from the word of Christ’ (Romans 10:17). Thanks be to God that, through the gifts he has given to and through David and Ming Fang, Christ’s words will be heard and understood in the heart language of the Anmatyerr people.
However, 0.3 FTE only equates to about 12 hours per week. David has been God’s answer to us for the short term, but the need for a full-time pastoral support worker is still with us. With the resource of David’s experience, knowledge and language skills, there would be no better time to start work in this area than in the next year or so.
Is God calling you, or someone you know, to serve in this area?
Malcolm Willcocks is the Pitjantjatjara Support Worker in the Western Arrarnta Language Area.