Revival Fires among the Aborigines of Australia

By Sue Armstrong

Sixteen years have passed since revival fire swept across the top end. Just as fire, in the natural, is relentless to everything in its path, so the fire of the Spirit swept through, except the wind that fanned the fire was God's great love and compassion, burning out sin and oppression over people's lives and changing forever some of the negative aspects of aboriginal life.

Re-growth after a bushfire is awesome. The green of the new leaves surpasses the old and the growth is thick and lush. The revival has gone but the aftermath is resplendent in the lives of those who were touched by it.

The demeanour of the women folk has changed dramatically over the years until today they have lost the heavy, downtrodden look that characterised their appearance. They stand tall and clear and confident in Father God for their daily lives. In meetings when the gospel is preached through music and the word and people respond by coming and kneeling at the front (a practise that began with the revival), the women will slip quietly onto the ground and kneel in front of the respondents and very often without any physical contact the person responding will fall down under the power of the Holy Spirit. Gentle but powerful ministry will flow as they pray.

These women also pray for the sick and see many healing miracles. A growing confidence in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is emerging and a recognition of these Gifts in one another. Prophecy is coming forth and people are being blessed by one another.

There has been a 'withdrawing' at this point in time of some of the men who were touched by the revival but those who have remained are strong leaders and also exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some of these men have chosen to live on outstations and their leadership and influence as Christian men is very powerful. The reason for the withdrawal of the men has been the untimely deaths of much loved leaders, also the expectations placed on them tribally. They are not lost, but just "in the wings". There will be a resurgence of Holy Spirit's power over their lives that will fan the weak flame that is still burning.

The children? These young ones who were babies and toddlers or yet unborn when the revival came, have had their own touch of the Spirit through their parents, especially those who live on the outstations dotted around Elcho Island and Yirrkala. They have received "gifts of worship" expressed through liturgical dance and movement and the skilful use of tambourines - not just entertainment but heart worship. When they minister in this way the power of God touches peoples' lives.

The outstations deserve a mention. Clusters of clan groupings have chosen to re-locate on their traditional land. This has been a healthy move as they have co-operated with one another to bring this about, and there is pride and dignity in being on one's own land. Some of these outstations have been settled by folk touched by the revival, and their families, and there is a strong Christian awareness of the Presence and blessing of God over these places. The focal point of the community is a clean, cleared area with a cross at the center and careful decorations of sea shells and stones lovingly arranged by the women. These people are fairly isolated and rely heavily on God for the physical and emotional needs of their outstation and they are not disappointed! They see healing miracles, bondages broken over people's lives and relationships restored when difficulties arise in their close knit groups. We hear stories of people near to death or even 'not breathing' who are restored as others pray for them.

Visitations, dreams and visions are still occurring. Often after the death of a loved one someone will have a dream about seeing them in Heaven. One lady had a dream that she died. At the time she was not walking closely with the Lord. She dreamed she arrived at the gates of Heaven to be told that her name was not written in The Book of Life and that she was to return and make sure her people knew that they needed their Name in the Book. She wrote a beautiful song about this dream which is now sung and is often a tool in bringing people to Jesus. Many times their dreams relate to pending danger. One lady dreamed that men were throwing spears at her and she was led into a safe place. This dream related to a "pay back" situation and gave her wisdom in dealing with it.

In one community a woman went to the water's edge for oysters and a crocodile seized her arm, she screamed and a "man" came out of the bush and opened the jaws of the crocodile and she was able to escape (she had the teeth marks to prove her story!) Another man who was sent home from hospital to die was walking down a road and Jesus came and walked beside him and told Him that he would be fully restored but that he was to spend the rest of his life bringing his people to Jesus. He was healed and went to Nungalinya college to be trained for the ministry.

Another man was walking by the water's edge when he heard the screams of little girl stung by a sea wasp. There was no vehicle to transport her to the health center and he knew that by the time he carried her there she would be dead so he prayed and she ran off, healed.

A group of people from Yirrkala (mostly young people) wanted to go to Adelaide to be part of the National Youth Convention there. They asked for money from the Synod and were given a small amount but it gave them faith to pray for the full amount ($24,000). They applied to a number of aboriginal secular agencies who sometimes fund conferences and they were refused help. They kept on praying. They raised a small amount from concerts that they held but the gap was wide. They were prompted to be more diligent in prayer and to ask the same agencies again and this time they were granted the funds but still there was a shortfall or around $5,000. They were sure they were all meant to go and this time the final amount came from a church in Melbourne who happily supplied the balance. Needless to say all of those people were blessed at the Conference and since then they have been ministering in the camps around Yirrkala and God is blessing through them.

Another exciting development arising from the growing confidence in using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and listening to God (specifically for young people) is the slow emerging of a true aboriginal Church, - one that will not need a balanda (white) title or ethos but will reflect Aboriginal Christianity born out of what God has been revealing to them over the years. It is in embryo at present but will emerge to touch aboriginal Australia and to challenge white Australia.

Probably the most abiding influence of the Revival is the hunger to pray that has remained and is joyfully expressed in many communities. One Outstation has been set aside as a place of prayer and it is a constant source of encouragement to those of us who know about it because it is right at the top of Australia and it is as if God has made them Watchmen over this Nation ... the original inhabitants are praying in revival fire and it is on its way!

Over the past year revival has broken out at Milingimbi (far North) and a small community near there. The impact has been on the young people and signs and wonders are following. Also on the North Coast of N.S.W. in a number of small communties the young people have become Christians, many coming out of alcohol and drug dependence, prostitution and great despair.

A great deal of prayer is needed for those in leadership as they are pastoring people coming out of great need. In most cases the pastor and leaders and their spouses become surrogate parents to these young people and the pressures of ministry are enormous. They need prayer and encouragement from the wider church.

A key to the healing of this Nation is the healing and restoration of our indigenous people. Pray that the revival will escalate and embrace the whole of this great Nation.

If you wish to support the ministry to the Aboriginal Communities, you may contact Dan & Sue Armstrong at this address:
Kairos Ministries
P.O. Box 516
NSW 2283

Fax #: 61 49 754162 (International) or 049 754162 (Australia)

Dan & Sue Armstrong
Directors, Kairos Ministries


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