This is part 4 in a 7-part series “7 Reflections on Reconciliation”, for Reconciliation Week, based on interviews with four Christians from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds.
Interviews by Ben Clarke, Supporter Engagement Officer - Tearfund’s work with First Peoples.
"If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Mark Kickett, a Noongar man from Noongar Whadjuk and Balardong country, is the State Development and Outreach Coordinator for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in South Australia.
Jesus teaches us about a new way of living that centres on relationships. The Gospel message reaches deep into our heart and speaks into our spirit and transforms our life.
The Gospel brings about a reconciliation that builds relationships in a better way than they could ever be! There are a lot of really good people, with really good hearts that support and want good for Aboriginal and Islander people and people who have experienced disenfranchisement. That drive is something that God innately puts into our hearts as human beings because God breathed into humans the breath of life and there is something of God in everybody.
The person of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit transforms that innate quality and takes it to a whole different level. In Jesus we begin to think the way God would want us to think and we act in the way God would want us to think. Love in its essence becomes a selfless and unconditional love. That is the essence and difference the Gospel makes to reconciliation.
Rhanee Tsetsakos, an Adnyamathanha woman from Port Augusta with close family ties to country and family in the northern Flinders Ranges - Adnyamathanha country, works for the Uniting Church in South Australia.
When I read the Bible I try and think about things that are happening in modern life today and how we can apply the teachings that that Jesus gives us. I see that Biblical reconciliation is about the coming together of the whole of creation. That includes things that are supposed to be simple, like loving one another and being there for each other. For example, having a meal together like we do in communion in with the bread and the wine. These are really simple acts of being together, but they place us in relationship with one another and involve my story and your story becoming our story.
Being involved in reconciliation is ultimately about caring. Caring about what's happening to other people around you and trying to get to know their story and to stop living in your own bubble.
There is a lot we can learn from each other but we have to have the willingness to want to go into that space. Sure there is going to be some fear in the unknown. You might be scared about saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing but you never know what is the right thing unless you do the wrong thing. Once you find a bridge and get a connection then you can explore the people that the bridges are connected to.
Dr Steve Bevis is a Tearfund Board member and Director of Master of Transformational Development, Eastern College.
For many people there is a question of how do we find any hope? I think that hope is knowing in that there is a Creator who made the world and who made it in a certain way. There is a journey that non-Indigenous Christians need to go on where they seek to discover what Creation is and how we can find the renewal earth. We need to find where the spirit is at work and in what ways do we need to change our lives so that we can all live together.
This is a story not only of healing but of hope - discovering the Creator’s ways and the way the creator and creator spirit renews his creation. We can do that together.
Tanya Riches is a Christian academic whose PhD focused on worship and social justice initiatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders.
My growing understanding of the Gospel led me to a growing understanding of the need for reconciliation. As I began to lead worship in my church I realised that all areas of our lives are linked. I learned that our praises can also indict us! Matthew 5:23–24 teaches us if we have a concern with our brother or if there is something between us when we come to worship then we have to go away and fix it! Then we can come back and worship.
That is the pure worship that God loves and that God responds to. As a worship leader, that became something so profound. It kept ringing in my ears. I was constantly reminded that if we want to be faithful representatives on earth then we must walk as Jesus walked.
Keep informed about issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Tearfund's work with the First Peoples of Australia. Together, let’s deepen our understanding and prayerfully consider how we can engage in the work of reconciliation and healing to which God calls us.
NOTE: Not everyone is comfortable with the word reconciliation. Reconciliation talks of returning to a place when relationship was good and that has never been the case in Australia. Most people, however, continue to support the aims of the reconciliation movement.