Indigenous pastor Frank Turner, ordained in 2000, from Ampilatwatja is currently the only person pastorally serving in the Alyawarr Language Area, about 3-4 hours drive from Alice Springs.
His three former colleagues have passed away. Since no young successors from the community can be found, the focus is now on training committed lay people.
One such candidate is Freddy Dixon from Artekerr (Three Bore), half an hour drive from the main community Arlparra. Freddy is already an Ingkarta, a spiritual leader, in his small community in the middle of Tomahawk Swamp. He is a quiet and inconspicuous person, highly respected by everyone. He has restored the almost ruined bush church. Regularly he organises singalongs for the residents and the neighbouring communities. Together with Pastor Frank Turner, he organised an Easter convention this year, which was attended by over 100 people from this area and some from further away. Because of his reputation and reliability, he was also appointed to the local council.
Freddy comes to the training sessions Pastor Frank and I offer him. When teaching, we adhere to the curriculum for teaching Aboriginal pastors and evangelists published by FRM. Since Freddy is not fluent in English and I am still learning Alyawarr, Pastor Frank assists as interpreter and helps with the explanations. We are currently teaching Freddy Old Testament Bible Knowledge.
Most of the time we meet at the bush church of Ampilatwatja. We have already covered the stories of creation and the flood, as well as the stories of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now we are going to read the stories of Moses.
Pastor Frank and I want to encourage Freddy to do Bible reading by himself and we try to teach him to read the Alyawarr Bible. It is a long process, but we have made a start.
I am grateful that we have identified someone also in Engawala, at Plenty Highway, who is eager to learn more about the Bible. Please pray with us that Lindsay Jambulga will stay tuned.
Pastor Michael Jacobsen is the FRM Support Worker for the Alyawarr Language Area.