Anytime, Anywhere, Outreach

It continues to be a vital part of the ministry of MAF in Arnhem Land, as it provides opportunity for MAF staff to connect with the Yolŋu people in their own tribal lands. It provides a space where each culture can learn from the other and for fellowship to happen, which in the end builds relationships. Most importantly, this ministry allows openings for the Good News of the Gospel to become a source of light and hope. Not just to those who want to know God more, but also for those who don’t know they are looking for something to cling to, something to be assured of: God.

Through ongoing relationships and invitations from the Yolŋu people themselves, the ministry of Homeland Outreach continues to have an important place in the wider vision of MAF in Arnhem Land. Through out the last 40 years+ MAF Staff have been privileged to connect with the Yolŋu people in this way. Often it has meant getting together a small team of people, a plane, a pilot and some resources, then heading out for either a day or overnight trip to one of the homelands.

In 2017 so far, MAF has been able to connect with the homelands of: Bremmer Island, Baniyala, Wandawuy, Matamata and Biranybirany and there are many more in the planning to come.

On the 2nd of June 2017, MAF Pilot Phil Techand accompanied by new MAF Pilot Simon Kepert plus Roger Latham (God’s Dreaming ministry) loaded the MAF plane with resources and food and travelled to Wandawuy Homeland, which is a 30-minute flight from Gove Airport. Due to unforseen circumstances, time on the ground was not as long as was hoped, but during these few hours the team was able to connect with the people in a real way. Roger shared the gospel message through his pictorial banner, which was laid out along the ground. The team prayed, sung and shared with the Wandawuy residents. There was even time to start a little fire and cook some sausages for those present. Not to forget to mention the Solar Power MP3 players that were distributed to some who showed a real genuine interest to know more about God. Pre-loaded on these players was God’s Word in local language, which speaks clearly about the truth and hope found in Jesus. The community people have asked for regular visits and more media resources to help them grow.

On another occasion, MAF Ministry Coordinator and Pilot Brett Nel gathered together a small team of people and headed for Baniyala homeland. This time it was to be overnight! On board was MAF Pilot Prabhu Pothula, local Yolngu employee James Marawili and members of his family. As this was an overnight trip a lot more planning was needed. An overnight adventure means a lot to consider such as sleeping arrangements, food and ministry resources. i.e. lights, power, and musical instruments.

After an afternoon of preparation the small team gathered under the wing of the MAF plane and prayed. They prayed for a special time of connection, fellowship and safety. Shortly after taking off, Brett set course for Baniyala, which is a 40-minute flight from Gove. Baniyala homeland is one of the bigger homelands and residents have access to a small school and tiny shop with bare minimum supplies. The homeland is situated on the coast and provides great opportunity for the local people to fish, hunt and enjoy the outdoors. The majority of the locals love living there, which in the end has a positive impact on the community and family life.

After a safe arrival, however with limited daylight left, the team got sorted for the night by setting up under the church shelter area. Prior to this happening Brett and James had spent some time walking around the homeland to visit the homeland elders. It was important, as with all visits, to make sure the visitors were still welcomed. Even at times like these, a team can be turned away due to a change of circumstances or a lack of communication between local elders in the community. This can be rather disconcerting for visiting teams! Despite some initial confusion, this team was much welcomed! Praise God.

With the lights now turned on and the familiar sound of Gospel music being blasted over the PA system, a small number of people came out from their houses and gathered at the fellowship area. They knew what was going on and were keen to participate. Fellowship consisted of prayer, song, dance, sharing and testimony and went on for some time. Following the fellowship vital Bible study then began which was so important as this is one of the main reasons why MAF takes the time and resource to visit the homelands.

Late into the night Bible Study finished, but it was a restless night for the team as word came via phone that there was some trouble with a particular family group in another community. The following morning the plan was to depart early, but as those who have lived in Arnhem Land long enough know, plans can change in an instant. The key is to be flexible and willing to respond to whatever comes ones way.

Brett felt he needed to spend more vital time connecting with the community elders and discussing future visits. This extra time was well worth spent, because the message was clear: “Just let us know you are coming, make sure we are here and then just come!”

A tired and exhausted team returned from Baniyala with stories to tell and grateful hearts for what God had done and what he will continue to do in Baniyala. Already in the planning is a return to the homeland.

Homeland Outreach is not simply a tick the box, ministry job done, well done! Rather completely the opposite, homeland outreach is about life; it’s about investing in the hearts of people and getting to know them deeper. It’s about sharing the love of Jesus in a practical and tangible way and long may it continue in Arnhem Land.

SMALL STORY OF FELLOWSHIP

MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship)
A small story of
FELLOWSHIP

The Don family (René, Janneke, Noah 6, Judah 4) from the Netherlands have been serving with MAF in Arnhem Land for the past five years. When they first arrived they moved out to one of MAF’s remote bases in Milingimbi. There, Rene was base manager and pilot. Simply living and working there enabled special relationships to be established with Aboriginal families. They were then relocated to Gove, so that René could take on the Crew Training Manager role and this meant leaving behind special friends in Milingimbi. Although, friendships and connections are not easily forgotten in Arnhem Land so when the opportunity came for the Don family to take a short visit to the community it was eagerly taken up. This is a short description by Janneke Don of this visit to the island community.

It was a Sunday morning and René flew our family on the new Caravan to Milingimbi for the day. Our goal was to visit our Yolngu family to spend time with them catching up, to pray for them and to encourage them. It was a bit of a last minute decision to go but it was great to see how God’s timing is always perfect.

We arrived there in time to attend a little church service at the start of a funeral from an older lady who belonged to the same family as us. The family was very thankful to see us there and thanked us with tears in their eyes that we came at that exact time. We were asked to start and finish with prayer. It was good to be involved in this fellowship as not all funerals start with prayer.

Later on we heard that there had been problems in that family surrounding the passing of this lady. Our two yapa’s (sisters) came back to Milingimbi from looking after sick family members in Darwin to mediate in this fight. They told them not to fight with curses and words but to be quiet and pray for everyone. Now there was a relative calm so the funeral could be done in peace but our yapa’s felt tired and weary and asked for prayer.

Another good Yolngu lady friend felt ganga manymak, which means not so okay, because of troubles in her family. She didn’t know we were coming and said it was such a God timing that we came that day. After I had prayed for her, she said I prayed the words of a song (that I didn’t know) that had previously encouraged her over the past two weeks.

A little wink from God was also given to a little boy from a family who lived there at the same time as us. He and Noah were friends and he had just the day before said that he missed Noah so much and he wanted to know when he could see him again. His mum had said that she didn’t know but possibly not for a long time. The next day we arrived and it just happened to be his birthday too! So needless to say our boys had a great time playing and catching up.

At the end of the day we flew back tired but grateful.

These types of trips to the communities and homelands are vitally important. They allow connections with the local people that might not necessarily happen otherwise. Long may it continue in the days ahead in Arnhem Land. Praise God for aircraft and resources to make these happen.

Rene Don in Cessna 208
Don Family

Phillip Goyma Gondarra

My name is Phillip Goyma Gondarra & I have a story to tell. God has been good in allowing me to attend school for the past three years in Fiji. Before this, I went to school in Darwin, not knowing where education was leading me. Then something amazing happened in my life. God opened my eyes to see the reality. I listened to his words & meditated on them day & night & that’s how I got to understand education better & the purpose of going to school.

This came about because God sent two Fijian educators, Mr & Mrs Tunabuna of Nadi, to study Australian indigenous education & they stayed with my family for several weeks. During that time they looked at my life & suggested that I might return to Fiji with them & continue my schooling in the Fijian government system. My family agreed to this, as they were also disappointed with my progress so far and this is when God really began to guide me into His plans. Jeremiah 29:11 really helped me to understand. The Fijians took me into their home & treated me like a son. Then began a lot of hard work & discipline to mold me into a better person. I had to work harder than I’ve ever worked. Slowly I improved my academic work until I received the most progressive student prize for primary education. The Nadi District School asked me to become a prefect & during my graduation, I proudly carried the Australian flag.

Today, after three years in Fiji, I am attending the Ratu Navula Secondary College & I am believing God will lead me into tertiary education in New Zealand or England.

To my fellow indigenous people, my advice is that we must convince our children to attend school, work hard & God will help them to be someone in the future, because nothing is impossible if the heart is willing. God bless you all.

Recently MAF Arnhem Land was able to help transport Philip on an evangelism outreach trip to Milingimbi. MAF left Philip along with others at each destination, returning a day or two later to collect him.

Philip and Family

VH-MQI: A TOOL FOR THE KINGDOM

Ever since the beginning stages of MAF in Arnhem Land, planes have been used as tool to facilitate the movement of passengers and freight. Over the last 40 years a lot has changed in terms of the types of planes flown, the colour of the aircraft and uniforms the pilots wear. However there is one thing that remains the same. People and freight are still being moved. Countless numbers of passengers and their belongings are being transported from A to B.

One of MAF’s recent aircraft additions is MQI. MQI has been flying in the program for over a year now but it was one of the first aircraft to be refitted with v2track, enabling real time tracking of the aircraft movements, as well as Aspen. Aspen units simply improve cockpit instrumentation for the pilot, making it easier to get information about wind and ground speed.

Because of these additional features, MQI has been popular amongst the Pilots. It’s primarily based in Lake Evella but has spent time at all other MAF bases being used as a tool to serve all the major communities and surrounding homelands.

Recently the aircraft was involved in a special event that took place in the Ministry Support Centre. Three key things had occurred preceding this event:

Firstly, two years prior, MAF Arnhem Land had been instrumental in helping organise the Alliance conference that took place in Darwin. At this event both organisations and individuals involved in ministry throughout Arnhem Land, gathered to share their visions, to encourage one another, pray and brainstorm future ministry. This conference in particular was a great encouragement for the Yolŋu people from East Arnhem who attended.

As a result of this meeting there has been numerous discussions over the past two years with both Yolŋu and MAF staff on how to move forward. Each time discussion has occurred the same message kept coming back. This was the need to meet in smaller groups to study God’s Word on specific areas and to pray.

Secondly, a relatively minor event took place at the homeland of Gurrumuru in late 2015. Brett Nel had gone there on outreach and while he was there a small number of men sat down with him and began to talk casually. The conversation turned to spiritual matters and the fellowship grew between them. At that point God clearly spoke to Brett and said, ‘This is the future church’. Since this time these men have remained in contact with each other and MAF. They have actively looked to increase their understanding of the ways of God. There has been a desire to meet and discuss what it means to be a Yolŋu Christian in Arnhem Land.

Thirdly, it was therefore of no coincidence that James Marawili a local Yolŋu from Yirrkala joined the reservations booking team in February 2016. Over the past few years, James has been instrumental in attending outreach trips with MAF staff and has grown in confidence to share the Gospel with his own people. James was present at the small gathering in Gurrumuru in 2015 and ever since this event, it has been on his mind to gather together those who have a serious passion and desire to follow God.

Equally important is the vision that Program Manager, Craig Fulton and Ministry Coordinator Brett Nel, have had over the past two years to gather people together to study God’s Word and understand better how it speaks into one’s identity, culture, tradition and beliefs. Over the past few months Brett Nel has been visiting homelands and sharing with key people the idea of a gathering and all agreed the time was right. With the addition of James Marawili to the team, this was just the drive that Brett and Craig needed to move this event along. A date was decided, people were contacted and flights arranged.

Over three days roughly 20 people, a mix of Yolŋu, MAF staff and other individuals involved in ministry met together to have open discussion, to study God’s Word, to pray and worship. It was a special time together and as a result of this meeting people were encouraged to stand up for truth, to work together more and to see ministry in Arnhem Land move forward. To keep the momentum going another meeting is already in the planning and the word is spreading throughout family groups.

MQI played a vital part in this gathering, as it was the aircraft designated to pick up the Yolŋu attendees from the homelands of Gurrumurru and Gan Gan. On Monday March the 7th, MAF pilot Des Vautier had the privilege to fly these flights.

In a sense the aircraft served a vital purpose that day, as it was the tool used to further the kingdom of God in Arnhem Land. The effects of this meeting might not be seen immediately but MAF believes that things are changing spiritually in Arnhem Land and that a new wind is blowing. It is a wind of opportunity and challenge that both Yolŋu and MAF are rising to meet. As relationships grow within the Church as a whole, so too will the presence and power of God.

No doubt aircraft like MQI will continue to be involved in the transportation of people who have a similar desire to see change and the growth of God’s kingdom in Arnhem Land.

This in a sense is priceless…