This is part 1 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.
Reconciliation is the beginning of a new journey. It is a journey embedded in faith and in justice, in good will and certainly in love. Reconciliation is also a journey that has God as its main focus. It is a journey of people walking together.
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.
Reconciliation as a broad concept means entering into the work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection life and being able to partner with God to see the kingdom come on earth. Reconciliation means telling the truth and being able to trust that God will take us into the new kingdom as we listen to and deal with that truth.
Tanya Riches is a Christian academic whose PhD focused on worship and social justice initiatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders.
Reconciliation is not only just making friends but actually becoming family. We care about our family, we're invested in our family, and we want to see the people in our family do well and to flourish. Reconciliation helps in the process of us becoming family. Once you consider people family, it's like a bond for life and you can't switch it off.
Reconciliation is about changing people's minds. If I can change people's minds then I can change people's hearts. That's what Jesus has done for me. My relationship with Jesus, especially from a young age, has been drawn from that overflowing love. Love is the key ingredient in 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.
Reconciliation requires telling the truth about ourselves and our history. It is something that we cannot do alone. We have to do it with those we are called to be reconciled to and with.
For those of us who are Christians, that journey of reconciliation starts at the cross where we see God acting in this world to enable us to recognise just how far we have moved into a world of isolation. We find the resources to go on the reconciliation journey in the risen Christ and his invitation to accept forgiveness for ourselves and to forgive each other.
Reconciliation is partly healing and partly resolution. It is the bringing together of two parties where there has been a wrong and it has to be put right. The two parts have been separated and so reconciliation is about that idea of bringing together.
Dr Steve Bevis is a Tearfund Board member and Director of Master of Transformational Development, Eastern College.
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.
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.