In April the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) project team members were provided with an opportunity to link with Aboriginal Pastors and evangelists. The group were scheduled to gather for a number of days at Warren Creek, some three and half hour’s drive west of Alice Springs, for their first ‘Bush Camp’ for 2018.
Amongst the multitude of flies all competing for attention, red dust ‘sandwiches’ and limited ‘comforts of home’ (we were out bush), the RAP project team spent a day and night, being privileged in joining the camp activities, engaging in conversation and marvelling at the spontaneity of the ministry in the local Aboriginal community of Mt Liebig.
These ‘Bush Camps’ provide a forum and opportunity for Aboriginal pastors and evangelists to engage in their continuing ministry learning so that they can bring the Gospel message to their own people in their own language and in a way that best fits their community.
The ‘Bush Camps’ are a unique situation where the biblical and theological studies/training comes to the where the participants are. It is undertaken in their local communities, in their own languages where they are ‘at home’, … literally camping outdoors in the bush, under the nearest shade. Lecturers under the auspices of Adelaide Lutheran College (SA), travel three or four times every year out into communities of central Australia. Here they lead sessions, four or five days at a time, in the ‘bush classroom’ – this being the natural ‘learning space’ for the past thousands of years for Aboriginal peoples. Resourced and supported by the LCA’s Finke River Mission (FRM), such bush camps are made possible through the provision of multi-lingual interpreters, the provision of learning resources in local language, and other requirements to cater for sometimes 50+ participants who come from numerous locations across the central and western desert communities.
The provision of resource and worship materials collaboratively developed with local language speakers over a number of years, have been particularly helpful. Worship resources in Western Arrarnta, Pitjantjatjara, Pintupi-Luritja, Anmatjerre and Alyawarr are increasing and continue to be invaluable to the local people and often assist to bridge the cultural divide with non-Aboriginal people working in these isolated communities. The Finke River Mission have been instrumental in the development of these materials.