I come from an aboriginal community in South Australia, Point Pearce, surrounded by poverty, like everyone else in the community. I’m from the Narungga Tribe. It’s a close community. I was surrounded by lots of social problems, violence and alcohol. I’m the eldest of 7 children from a broken family.; My father died when I was young. I spent a lot of my childhood in different boy’s homes. But life is life.
I went to Sunday School on the community, but as a teenager I began drinking, drugs, crime, became an alcoholic. I was a very violent man and people were afraid of me. My ambition in life was to live to 30 and I was doing a good job at not even reaching that goal. Now I’m going on 63. I have 13 grandchildren and I love every bit of it and I thank God that he didn’t give me my own way and let me die before 30.
When I was about 26 or 27 my wife, Lill, gave me an ultimatum to go to rehab or to lose my family, so I chose rehab. I went to a rehab centre run by Aboriginal Christians. I knew I was related to nearly every person who worked there and I knew their backgrounds too which was similar to mine, but I witnessed the change in their lives and I wanted a bit of what they had and they had Christ.
When I finished my time in rehab and went home, not long after that, a group of Aboriginal Christians came to Point Pearce to do mission. I was dragged along to that meeting unwillingly, but I went anyway, and on the first night of the mission both my wife and I committed our lives to the Lord.
Since then our lives have never been the same. The Lord called us out of our darkness and I went to Sydney to train with the Church Army. So we’ve travelled Australia living in cars, sleeping on the side of river banks, in old churches, cabins, sheds and tents, spreading the Gospel, because we believe that the Gospel changes lives. We believe in the risen Christ and the life God gives which is why I’m still here today at nearly 63. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform darkness to light. We believe in a God who is merciful and patient and loving. And our hope is that our people will hear the Gospel and will receive light and life.
About the Living Desert Faith Community
My wife Lill and I were doing itinerant ministry to rural and remote aboriginal communities and the last place we were living was in Murrin Bridge after Ceduna on the west coast of South Australia. We were invited to go to Murrin Bridge and I wasn’t impressed, but my wife fell in love with it and we felt that God wanted us to go there. After a couple of years there I was talking to Rev. Neville Naden from the Anglican Church from the Living Desert Community in Broken Hill. I was asked to go to Broken Hill to the Living Desert Community.
It is a faith community that is shared between Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and Bush Church Aid Society which is Anglican. Together they support this ministry. It’s an outreach primarily to the Aboriginal community in Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee.
There are not many people there, it’s a small faith community, both white and black people and we worship together, fellowship together and pray together. We don’t see colour in our community. We are just brothers and sisters in Christ and we seek to reach those people who are on the fringes of society, just as Jesus did. Christ centred.
We all play a little role, a little tiny bit, in bringing light and life. Just one person might help another. Our witness plays a big part.
Reflection on life coming from the desert and life from death
We have to come out of the darkness into the light to find life. That’s where it begins for me. When you have new life in Christ your eyes are opened, just as Jesus opened the eyes of the blind.
I’m seeing in young people and in old people things I couldn’t see before I was a Christian. I can see the damage that is being done in people’s lives. Our children are the ones left alone, neglected, suffering and abused.
The desert in spring time when its blooming is the prettiest place on earth. Out of the bareness the desert blooms and is alive. Something touches it and the flowers come. I’ve stood on some beautiful mountain tops but you can’t compare it to the blooming desert. That’s what happens to people’s lives and to my live. A dry barren place and suddenly it was like the desert bloomed inside of me. I met Christ in the desert and it was a spring to life.