When the pandemic restrictions began in central Australia, our community meals, discipleship groups, and church services were closed down. Many Aboriginal people and Aboriginal Christian leaders were stuck in our town as the roads and borders back into their remote communities were suddenly closed. Many travelled in for a short time for medical appointments and ended up staying for quite a number of weeks, so our ministry became a home away from home and a family away from family. What a joy!
We were still able to meet in smaller groups so we met regularly to pour into the indigenous leaders in a more intentional way. We watched them then go on to lead their own small services in hostels and camps around the community. We encouraged them in the Word and provided some basic necessities to distribute: communion, extra Bibles, and care packs we assembled for the lockdown, which included USB sticks with worship and teaching in their language and English. We also included hygiene products like soap, dish liquid, laundry powder, and tissues.
One of the surprising things that has come out of the lockdown time were many Aboriginal young people sovereignly coming to Jesus in remote places with great joy! The Aboriginal people continue to meet together almost nightly by themselves in a lot of remote places without any encouragement from missionaries. His Spirit is still moving powerfully among them now.
Another lockdown surprise was the new songs and music that have emerged. Some local town people living in Aboriginal camps spent their time recording Christian songs and worship music. It has been a joy listening to the singing and the new albums which encourage believers and those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Because we’ve had less big group meetings, our missionaries have really enjoyed the time of refreshing, seeking Jesus more, and going deeper with just a few, as well as with each other. A closer knit family has grown and we’ve been able to distribute more practical aid through our winter (warm clothes and blankets) more than we ever have before due to people’s kind generosity. We have also given out many ‘Tjukulpa Palya’ Bibles that have been so popular and appreciated by the people in a challenging time where they’re asking a lot of questions and wanting to grow in their walk with God more.