The global Indigenous community is beautiful, diverse in cultural expressions, and rich in stories to minister to those who are non-indigenous. Experts estimate that there are about 370 million Indigenous peoples in about 70 countries worldwide. As a global church, our heart’s posture is love and value. We love and value the global Indigenous peoples and want to position ourselves to listen so we can learn, lament and act.
The reality is that for our global Indigenous sisters and brothers, there are devastating histories of land possessions, violence, and racism. Australia is one of the countries where this devastating history is the reality. Although there are changes which still need to take place, there have also been intentional efforts to try to make the wrong things right.
One of these efforts takes place annually on May 27 – June 3. It started in 1993 when many churches across Australia came together to spend a week praying for reconciliation. Since then, this effort has grown into all spheres of life, now termed the National Reconciliation Week. This year’s theme is to “Be a Voice for Generations.” The intent of the theme is to intentionally step into the work of reconciliation every day, whether at home, church, school, work, or out in the community.
With a vision of being a healthy church changing lives through Christ, this is something we as Hillsong Church intentionally want to continue to be part of. Believing that reconciliation needs to take place in order for us to be a healthy church. Believing the Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:11 where it states that each believer is given the ministry of reconciliation. Believing that God’s heart is not just for reconciliation, but also for healing and unity within His global church. Believing that more efforts are needed.
Pastor Willy, an Indigenous man and leader, deeply respected by the house, sat down last year in a recorded interview with our beloved Dr. Tanya Riches. You can listen to their conversation here. Pastor Willy and his wife Sandra Dumas are the Senior Ministers of Ganggalah Church, Ganggalah Training Centre, and Ganggalah Aboriginal Arts, based in the beautiful Tweed Heads region of Northern NSW, Bundajlung Country. They are also the National Leaders of the Australian Christian Churches, Indigenous Initiative Committee. Both Pastor Willy & Sandra know God has a mandate on their lives to “raise” up the next generation of Indigenous Christian leaders.
In the interview, Pastor Willy talked about the power of “listening.” He shares with us about the power of having a “yarn” and how important it is to Indigenous culture and community. He explains how a yarn is having both a conversation and a relationship:
“a yarn is listening to each other. It is not one way. It is beautiful how it unfolds. Sometimes people talk too much and they don’t listen. A yarn is listening to the story behind.”
This year I was able to have my own yarn with Pastor Willy, the beauty of his stories and heart posture still ministering to me, even several weeks later. Pastor Willy’s wisdom highlights for me Colossians 3:12&14 (NIV). If Colossians 3 type of listening was all our heart postures, I believe we would see a significant increase in reconciliation, healing, and unity.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
The Australian National Week of Reconciliation is a bold reminder of those who have gone before us and have worked hard for meaningful change, how more meaningful change is needed, and how all our efforts are needed to accomplish it. Although on Sunday May 28 we as Hillsong Church will do our part to participate, we encourage you to go to the link to find out how you can get involved, and perhaps even participate with your family and friends in one of the events planned during this important week. If you are at one of our global locations outside of Australia, we encourage you to engage the healing and unity efforts and changes that are needed where you live.
Hillsong Global Ethnic and Race Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW
We acknowledge all First Peoples of the beautiful lands on which we live and celebrate their enduring knowledge and connections to Country. We honor the wisdom of and pay respect to Elders past and present.