A man serving in the midst of a battle

23 Sep 2020

When we left a relatively comfortable life in Sydney for a slightly more adventurous one in Arnhem Land, we could not have predicted the many twists and turns that our lives have taken over what is exactly a decade in the Top End. We never left Australia but we certainly often feel like we have, embracing a culture caught between two worlds. 

The Yolngu culture has slowly changed to some degree (not saying for better or worse), but they have not fully left behind their animistic ways and yet have not fully adopted Western culture either. They drive cars and watch screens, but they also hunt wildlife and interact with the spirit world.  Even the law is confusing up here – sometimes crime is dealt with using balanda (white man) rules and on other occasions, a man can expect a spear in the thigh for a relatively minor crime. While we were living in one community, a Christian minister speared another man in the leg for not submitting to his authority. We were shocked and appalled, until we reflected on how people treat each other in Western churches at times, maybe not with spears but certainly with words and control through fear and intimidation.

The Yolngu people have been repeatedly evangelised but rarely discipled.   And so when we left MAF in 2016 to start a Pioneers team, our vision quickly became ‘Yolngu discipling Yolngu’.  The trouble is that discipleship is never simple or straightforward, let alone cross-cultural discipleship.  There is no low hanging fruit to pluck off the branches – it is more like a process of cultivating, growing, pruning, and even re-rooting at times all over a period of years. And this is not to take into account the continual forces at work which try to undermine any fruitfulness at all. These forces are of course sourced in the heavenly realms and that is where the battle for souls is raging at its fiercest.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, if you call yourself a Christian, you are in the midst of this battle. People have applauded us for being on the front line and I wholeheartedly disagree with them – if you are in Christ, you are automatically on the front line. Because according to Matthew 11:12, you are forcefully helping the kingdom of heaven to advance, and the front line (the mission field) is everywhere on this earth. Once you realise that you are in the thick of the battle, the only question is: Jesus, where do you want me to fight? 

We are looking for forceful Yolngu men especially – men who will fight against addiction which ravages this people group, men who will stand up against evil in Yolngu culture (as we stand against evil in Western culture), and men who are willing to take the battle against evil into the heavenly realms. God has given us a few men who fit the bill – we are looking for at least 70 to start a movement in Arnhem Land. 

-Craig, a Pioneers worker serving in Arnhem Land.

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