What on earth is Jemimah up to?
Welcome to my first blog!!
As I prepared to go on a trip from Adelaide to Darwin in June 2017, we were asking the Lord about which aboriginal communities he wanted us to visit. The town of Elliot (800km North of Alice Springs) was highlighted to me, It had featured on SBS as "The Town that the Government Forgot". But as I began to pray I heard the Lord say,
"This is the town I have remembered!"
"These are my warrior bride! They have forgotten what I created them to be. I am calling them to rise up & be my warrior bride once again. To take their position as leaders in the battle formation, They hold keys that are needed to bring this nation into the next reformation. The rest of the nation is waiting for them and cannot move forward until all of my bride are standing together..."
"I am calling you to walk alongside them and remind them of who they are and stir up their hearts to start dreaming and walking towards what I am calling them to... To take their place on the Regional, National and International stages, as world changers for Jesus."
What does this mandate & mantle look like?
I have been invited to partner with Yolgnu people living in Galiwinku Community (Elcho Island). I will be partnering directly with Yolgnu Elders, to see their vision of a new generation of young adults rising up with the fire of God in their belly, walking strong in the Lord. They want to see a generation of Yolgnu who are passionate about carrying the message of Jesus across this nation and across the world.
I have been invited to work with Aunty Danganbarr (Mavis) in launching her vision of an Eaglesnest ministry. Providing Living skills training and discipleship mentoring for a period of time and then pushing them out of the nest and learning to fly! Danganbarr is a senior woman on Island, with a big vision for her young people to rise up and be who God has called them to be. She is very passionate about walking alongside them and supporting them. I will be partnering with her in that vision.
Danganbarr has invited me to park my Caravan in her backyard and live with her & her family. A wonderful priviledge to live amongst the people and to walk with them so closely.
Over the last 2 years since 2016, there has been a huge move of God happening among the young people. Many men & women are committing their lives to live sold out for Jesus. With so many coming to Jesus there is a need to walk with them through life's many ups & downs, stir up & encourage the journey of becoming strong in the Lord and strong in who he has called them to be.
This partnership will encompass many things; listening and learning Yolgnu ways, building relationships, listening and sharing stories, creating & facilitating bible studies, establishing Firehubs (worship & prayer gatherings), pastoral care, mentoring, hanging out with families & doing life with them, as well as other practical ways as the need becomes clear.
Galiwinku is also known as Elcho Island, which is located 515km flight from Darwin, 130km from the Gulf of Carpentaria, in North-East Arnhemland, Northern Territory, Australia.
Why Aboriginal ministry? Why on earth GALIWINKU??
I have grown up in a middle class anglo saxon area, where I had little contact with First Nation people. Working with them was something that never entered my mind. In 2011, I had a car accident and soon after developed Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue (CFS). I was so incapacitated that I had to move back home soon after and my parents had to help me do many things. I couldn't cook, clean, care for myself, nor could I drive more than 10 mins, Socially I had to withdraw as the pain was so bad when in social situations. So I was grounded and living a very small life with little outside of my home. I was very grateful to Donny McGregor who invited me to partner with him in launching Generation Fire 'Fire-hubs' in 2013. It provided an outlet located two streets from my home and was a small gathering that I could cope with. A lifeline for me.
In 2013, Uncle Maratja (Yolgnu Elder) invited Generation Fire to come with a team and minister to the youth and young people and to see the Holy Spirit bring a revival to them. We took it to the Lord and prayed waiting on his release for 3 years. In November 2015, God said 2016 was the year. Still recovering from illness I was not even considering going, when I clearly heard the Lord say "I want you on that team" - I was not sure how it was possible physically so I laid it down a few times but finally surrendered and said OK God I will go, but you have to do something about my health. God heard my deal... within 2 weeks, my health began to improve! I began to see dramatic improvement over the next 6 months as the team prepared.
Myself and the team flew to Galiwinku. From the moment we stepped off the plane, we were acutely aware that this would be a trip like no other! Right from the first night we saw miracles and wonders in the heavens confirming all that was happening on the ground. We had nightly gatherings in the basket ball courts & morning gatherings in the Mango grove, where many gave their hearts to the Lord, were healed, relationships restored.
We volunteered to go out from 4am-6am to hang out with the young people many of whom were petrol sniffing... We shared the love of the Father with them, we met 5 young men who were the ringleaders of all the violence and drug supplies. That night they had an encounter with Jesus they couldn't refuse. Among other things, He spoke about how Blessing is more powerful than cursing. That night they were so impacted they emptied out their drugs & petrol they were providing the young people (petrol Sniffing) and they gave their hearts to Jesus. That night at the Gathering in the Basketball court, they began to declare Jesus is Lord before all their community.
We met every day and night seeing many recommit their hearts to Jesus and we were delighted to be able to baptise 75 people - whole families came together! We had someone on Crocodile watch as they were very common in the water - so this truely was a baptism by fire! The following day we saw two x large crocs swimming right where we had been!!
I was amazed at how God's healing flowed as we prayed for each one seeing their healing manifest before our eyes! I saw deaf ears open, tumours shrink, stroke patients begin to walk unaided to name a few. This was the first time I had experienced immediate answer to healing prayer!
We saw creation responding to the word of God preached. One day it was dry season and so rain was not expected. we were preaching about the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and on cue it began to pour with a wonderful thunder shower. The people were amazed as it was out of season. We saw visions appear in the clouds like God was writing on the sky what was happening on the ground. We were celebrating Feast of Trumpets the Jewish new year, gathered at the look out over Mission beach and as we blew the Didgeridoo, Conch Shell and the Shofar we looked up and saw a roaring lion in the sky flanked with angels blowing trumpets in the clouds! Children saw angels on the basketball courts during the day, one night were preaching about the Power of Jesus Christ, Three different Yolgnu people saw a vision of eagle devouring a snake in the Basketball courts. It seems that God speaks loudly to yolgnu people through creation. This has been common throughout my travels.
It was amazing to see the crowds coming grow from 100 to 500/600 at the final gathering. They had flown in from all over Arnhemland as they had heard something was happening in Galiwinku.
On three separate days I was walking along Mission beach when the Lord spoke to me "Are you willing to return?". I was very surprised as I was still in recovering from CFS mode... I was not even thinking about mission work or even working with First Nations people! After the 3rd time I realised he was offering me an opportunity to go on an adventure with Him. I said well Ok Lord, but what would I do? They are very competent bunch of people, I could see things that I could do to help but I really wanted to hear from them how I could work with them on their vision. So this began a long conversation over 18months with the Elders, Mr Alan Maratja and Aunty Mavis Danganbarr. We kept on talking all the way through 2017 but I had not gotten a clear invitation to come so I waited.
One amazing part of our time here was that all 12 of our team were adopted by Yolgnu families. We were given Yolgnu names, Skin names and now belonged to their clan. You see family is everything! Skin names determine how you fit in within the family structure, it tells you who you are related to and how to relate to different family members. Skin names are central to Yolgnu world so they have taken to adopting Balanda people so that they can fit into the Yolgnu world and way of doing life.
I returned to Galiwinku March 2017 and the moment I stepped off the plane I had the strange sensation of 'coming home', I knew then & there that this was to be my home. I spent three weeks on island, living with my Yapa - Adopted sister. I told them don't interpret for me I just want to immerse into Yolgnu life in all its fullness. So I was surrounded by YolgnuMatha language, and it began to feel very familiar - something I was amazed considering my significant hearing loss. I spent time with Margaret (a long termer Balanda (White) missionary). We worked together on writing Yolgnu discipleship Studies on Mark. I learned from her. I spent many afternoons with the young people putting to test the bible studies we had developed, and it seemed that these were helpful.
I was very aware of seeing how the young people were going who had given their hearts to the Lord in our last visit. I burst into tears to discover that the small group of 15-20 young people had multiplied to 40-50 who had sold out to Jesus and were walking together in life in Christ. So wonderful to see the Holy Spirit at work. One of my biggest passions is to ensure that they grow strong roots in the Lord and become strong Oaks of righteousness planted by the Lord. Seeing good discipleship happen here is my top priority. But I was to take a journey of what it means to be Yolgnu and to walk faithfully to Jesus in all aspects of their lives. This encountered interesting challenges in what to do with different parts of Ceremony, especially for the young men. Many conversations are taking place with Yolgnu people in working out what parts of Ceremony can we continue with and what parts are we to let go of. This has been a controversial matter that is still being worked out in Galiwinku. I feel that my part is to keep pointing Yolgnu people to the word of God, searching what it says and letting the Holy Spirit lead them and guide them through these challenges. I will be very much led by the elders and work closely with them in walking out this with the young people.
It was amazing to be adopted & have a skin name because the first thing people asked me was who adopted me? then that told them how I was related to them - they promptly told me "call me Mari (Grandmother), Mukul (Aunty), Wawa (Brother), Yapa (Sister), Dhuway (My marriagable cousin) to name a few... it told me who I could talk to and who I needed to respectfully keep my distance from - these were my avoidance relationships from which I was not to have close relationship with due Yolgnu social rules. I have much to learn! But the beautiful thing I loved was that I could go to any part of east arnhemland and my skin name would open doors to family in any community.
We also gathered for worship & prayer at Aunty Danganbarr's home, the first Fire Hub gathering had begun. It was wonderful to witness a hunger and passionate next generation who long for the fire of God to pour out amongst their community and the world beyond. Music, singing and dance is a very integral part of Yolgnu culture, so it is very much a part of their worship.
Very quickly I realised that what I had to bring to the people was really not relevant, I realised that it was to be a trip about me coming as a student, a learner. I had two ears and one mouth... I made a number of very public errors due to not understanding the Yolgnu ways. I realised that I would have to walk a very humble journey of being quick to acknowledge my mistakes and to lay down what I think I know, and come ready to listen and learn from them. I think this was essential in building trust. They needed to see that I was willing to just walk a mile with them, sit a while and be willing to just be with them. I also realised it was so important that I not come in with my ideas and ways but to sit back and wait to be invited in. So the conversation continued with the elders...
June 2017 I took a road trip with Nigel & Bek travelling from Adelaide to Darwin. We visited many communities along the way. It was amazing how often God interrupted our plans and led us on a great sidetrack which turned out to be a wonderful connection with a number of communities. Ali Curung and Elliot as well as spending 10 days camping at Beswick joining with our First Nation family in fellowship and worship. It was a massive journey together. But God was the one who strengthened me to last the distance. But this taught me sooo much about working alongside them, having to lay down all my ideas and ways of "normal" and had to learn to just be with people. Relationship is everything... Time means something entirely different to the western way of thinking - We gather and start when everyone is here... I learned about honouring elders, they may take their time to speak and share their thoughts, I discovered just how quickly my brain operated and just how much tended to finish their sentences and interject before their were finished so I had to learn to slow down and be patient to listen. But what I discovered was they had amazing pearls of wisdom and I learned so much from them.
In October 2017, at Melted Hearts Gathering in Uluru (Ayres Rock), Central Australia, I spent time with Aunty Danganbarr talking through what we could do together. I sensed some reticence some concerns and it became clear that it was not possible for me to come as there was no where for me to live. Housing is limited to Yolgnu people and Balanda could only come if they had housing with an organisation or ministry. I was not connected with any existing ministries on island. So in one moment the door to Galiwinku slammed shut. I was very lost. I really did not know what next... I set my mind to be on the mainland and maybe I could travel to Island for regular trips... but Lord I don't understand?
November 2017 I heard the Lord say "Get your house and car ready to be on the road full time". What?! Okay... So that began a massive journey in looking for a caravan & 4WD vehicle suitable for the rough roads. The Lord provided funds from a previous car accident compensation that I had invested - he said "I don't want you trusting in your ability to do it - withdraw those funds and use it to do as I have instructed". Wow what a massive learning curve of letting go of my security in my bank account! After wrestling with him I began to look at rooftop campers - not suitable for the humidity, heat and monsoon rains of Galiwinku, scrapped that idea. Then I looked at a slide on on the back of my Ute... 2 Metres by 2.4 metres hmmm a bit small living quarters! Scrapped that idea. I found a great 4x4 Toyota Hilux single cab that met all my requirements. Then I discovered a wonderful caravan in Geelong Victoria within my price range!
In January 2018 I took a road trip with Evie to Geelong to check out the van. The morning I was to go and check out the van, I got a call from Aunty Danganbarr! She had been reading a prophetic word that I had sent her months before, she asked me if I would work with her in seeing that word come to reality for her people. I explained what I was about to go buy a caravan to live in. Aunty was so happy and said "that's our answer, you can bring your van to Galiwinku and park it in my backyard and live with me and my family! Then we can work together on this vision for my people." I had my invitation! Wowee God's timing sure is amazing.
So from January to May 2018 I set about getting the caravan and car ready for life in Galiwinku. I spent $4000 getting the wiring, bumper-bar, bullbar/lights installed. The Lord gave me a wonderful Mechanic and Auto Electrician who went above and beyond getting things safe and solid to withstand the rough roads. I also had to stock up on 4x4 Recovery gear and learn how to use it all! I remodeled my van to create more space and storage. I had two lounges and two single beds, so I took out one lounge and a bed. The Lord provided a wonderful couple, Lana & Matt who came and installed a bureau cupboard and a desk at no cost! He provided an air conditioner for $350! That all took me to the end of my stash of savings... I was now completely reliant on Papa.
God also took me on a massive journey of letting go of all that I knew and held dear. I had to shrink my life into a caravan and ute! I had a number of garage sales but seeing my worldly belongings being snapped up by others was such a humbling place to be. I also went on a journey with my family and friends, each of us having to come to terms with me leaving, not being just around the corner but would be so far away from all I loved dearly. This has been one of the hardest parts of being called to Go...
I also went on a journey of trust in Papa God being my sole provider. He was very clear in saying that I was not to rely on man to provide. He did not want me to go do the normal missionary fundraising drives. He was asking me to just share my journey and trust him to prompt people to partner with me. He said "I have called you and Danganbarr to raise up an all Yolgnu missional body, to send out Yolgnu people as world changers. They will not have access to the same resources that you do, so I want you to live it out in your life to demonstrate that it is possible for anyone to get up and Go when I call them". So I have not done the normal fundraising, I have shared my journey with others and it has been amazing to see so many from all over the world jump on the journey in prayer and some in financial giving. I have been blessed with a Government pension (due to having chronic fatigue and unable to work for 5 years) so I began to do the sums of how to live on that. I discovered that living costs on island are 3 times the price of living in Sydney! I discovered that power was $10/day & food was $300-400/week! This was going to add up to $900/fortnight! almost all of my pension just in food and power! My decision to trust Papa soley for provision was put to the test.
He took me on a journey through the word learning all about trusting him. These were the scriptures that he gave me to hold onto...
2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-11
8 And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always have complete sufficiency in everything and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity... Now He who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed for sowing [that is, your resources] and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this generosity through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit].
A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you, THIS YOU CAN RELY ON!”
These scriptures have held me secure in all those shakey moments. There truely is nothing else we can build our lives on that is sure and secure!
And this is just the journey to getting ready to go... Oh Lord what on earth have you got in store for this next season of Going...