According to Luke Woodhouse, senior pastor at BHAC, a profound expression of gospel unity has developed between St Barnabas Anglican Church members in Minyerri, Northern Territory, and Bobbin Head Anglican Church (BHAC) on SydSydney’srth coast.
When Luke joined BHAC in 2015, he inherited a partnership with Minyerri that was formalized in August 2014 at the invitation of then-deacon Darryn Farrell after BHAC members made several community visits.
“Si”ce that time, we visit Minyerri as a church twice a year, usually at the beginning of the dry season and once towards the end,” L,”ke says.
After forced cancellations due to COVID in 2020 and 2021, the Church is excited to plan its maiden trip to Minyerri in late June-early July for nearly three years.
Bobbin Head visit Minyerric.
The Bobbin Head Anglican team sees the partnership with Minyerri as a partnership of mutual support and encouragement as disciples of Jesus. They consciously avoid an agenda of doing projects. They enter each visit realizing that they will be the ones learning and growing for their time together with Minyerri Church.
“At” its simplest, I hope from MinMinyerri’srspective that the partnership is made up of Christian sisters and brothers praying for each other, committed to a deep and genuine relationship, to see regular visits from sisters and brothers from Sydney, who are every day pray and encourage the Christians in Minyerri to continue as followers of Jesus.
“We”learn much about our cultural lens of the gospel.” –”Luke Woodhouse.
“An” that is reflected by visiting twice a year. Some say that at slot, and others say it’s enough. From our perspective, we learn a tremendous amount about our cultural lenses of the gospel, and what we do is just because of how we are and the essence of the Christian community. And we were sharp about that. We have a week where our members sincerely ask other members of the Church, “Do” you think I could read the Bible in Kriol with you and explain to you what it means?” –”is mutually beneficial as they have KriKriol’sowledge and often much closer cultural ties to parts of different parts of the text.
“Th” fact that I do that twice a year as a pastor with just four or five other church members is a huge blessing to our church community as we reflect on what disciple-making looks like in a different culture.”
L”ke says that even the question of what things they should pray for the Christians in Minyerri is a really “sh” opening” q” action.
“It” feels like the end of many of PauPaul’stters, how he gives all those personal greetings and expresses his affection and partnership with the Church in this and that place. ThaThat’sw it feels with the Church in Minyerri and the Church in Sydney and their genuine interest in the gospel, how people come to trust in Jesus.”
Luke explains that because the church building and Christian community in Minyerri are in the open air (not in a building), non-church-going people in the community “se” thethere’sbunch of ‘wh’tes’ f’om out of town who is arearen’txing something or running a sports camp or a program, thethey’rest hanging out….it’ it’snd of counter-cultural to the community.”
H” says that while there may be other secular organizations involved in something on the surface similar to our partnership, which involves BHAC, it is not driven by the broader, more secular story of reconciliation. Rather, it stems from something that has always been with those who share the Christian gospel, which is clearly expressed in New Testament epistles such as Romans, Ephesians, and Galatians.
“It’smost our equivalent of the Jew-Pagan division, which in the first century would have been just as counter-cultural to have a Jew and a Greek living together in a deep, wealthy community,” h,” says.
“To”have a north coast where predominantly white Anglo people sit and break bread and fellowship with the Christians in Minyerri expresses a much richer and much deeper reconciliation than all the more secular stories we often hear.
“I “void the word reconciliation when describing the nature and background of our partnership, not because I’mI’mainst it, but because the word is loaded and people can read all sorts of current political debates in it – while what I think we’we’revolved it is something quite different, much more profound, a gospel unity and a genuine expression of sharing as the family of God from every tribe, language, language, and race.”
“o” have a north coast where predominantly white Anglo people sit and break bread and fellowship with the Christians in Minyerri, an expression of a much richer and deeper reconciliation.” –”Luke Woodhouse.
Luke, a Beatles fan, likens this to what happens when he meets another Beatles fan randomly and automatically feels connected to them.
“Wh”t you see experienced by the BHAC team is that we go in, and because we both love Jesus, you share this instant connection, even though you cancan’ten communicate clearly as you would like. And you feel it – you dondon’tke it, you don’t create a reconciliation – you know and experience that there is already a reconciliation in Christ, rather than something that needs to be made.”
H” says this is beautifully reflected when the Sydney crowd sits down with the Minyerri crowd to write songs together in Kriol – an activity they love.
“So,” we write songs that we sing together and even talk through what the lyrics should be. “Ho,” do we say that in Kriol?” T”e first thing we wrote was about Jesus feeding the 5000. I remember discussing, ‘What is it that Jesus gives this special food?’; ‘and we were talking, ‘what is the food that lasts?’ and just that process of us talking through what the lyrics of our song should be was unifying and encouraging.
“Al” though our language was different, and the way we expressed things was differewaswe, both knew we wanted to say the same things. We want to say that tJetJesus’sftsare more than physical bread. And that was quite astonishing. And there was just a unity that existed because of Jesus, and it started to express itself.”
L”looks forward to resuming regular visits to Minyerri from Bobbin Head Anglican. The regularity emphasizes that the Minyerri Christians are not alone – they are part of the greater body of Christ.