Early this year my wife Hanne and I were delighted to host a guest from Germany for two weeks.
Rev Arnim Doerfer is the new regional secretary for Papua New Guinea and Pacific in Mission EineWelt, the Centre for Partnership, Development and Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria.
During his stay, we were able to give Pastor Arnim a detailed insight into the varied work and eventful history of Finke River Mission. We visited churches in the outback and celebrated services. Church leaders and Aboriginal families, who are usually very hesitant towards foreigners, were very interested in our guest from Germany and were not afraid to meet him.
A day trip took us to Hermannsburg, where Lutheran missionary and educational work among Aboriginal people in Central Australia began in 1877. A meeting with Principal Chris England of Yirara College was stimulating and informative, and the possible continuation of the volunteer program was also discussed.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel a two-day trip to Ampilatwatja and its surrounding homelands due to heavy rain in the northeast and resulting road closures. So, there was no meeting with Aboriginal pastor Frank Turner, who is currently the only pastor in the area. But that might happen when Pastor Arnim comes back next year.
In our discussions, we reflected a lot and discovered that, despite some similarities, the Melanesian culture in Papua New Guinea and that of the Australian desert Aborigines are very different.
Michael Jacobsen is the FRM support pastor for the Alyawarr Language Area.