Building a Caring Community in the Remote North
‘My wife and I were only talking this morning about Vision180 (formerly word4U2day), where it quotes Acts 4:34 and how the early Christians shared everything. She said to me: “Wow! That’s so very aboriginal, isn’t it?”’
Jamie Weidinger is a school chaplain in Normanton, a small remote town on the Gulf of Carpentaria. About 80% of the population are indigenous.
‘Church has always been here,’ says Jamie. ‘The Australian Inland Mission—pioneered by John Flynn of Flying Doctor fame—finished up in the 1970s and so the church has played a significant part in the town historically. But this vision has yet to be caught by the younger generation.’
"Our aim is to bring out more than just a concept of a creator: we want to introduce them to Jesus"
Last year, Jamie’s church was without a pastor and he was very grateful for The Word for Today.
"The books were very useful for our small aboriginal church. They continue to be a big benefit for us because they have a small amount of simple reading."
The church is now helping with a chapel service in a rehab centre being set up by the Salvation Army and Gidgee Healing.
"The officer asked me what the emphasis would be: spiritual or religious? Of course it’s spiritual. The aboriginal people here hold traditional values very closely and have a deep understanding about a Creator. But our aim is to bring out more than just the concept of a Creator: we want to introduce them to Jesus."
Vision has a station in Normanton but, as Jamie says, few people have a radio, except in their cars. Since the community is just a two–kilometre strip, people don’t tend to tune in for the trip from one end of town to the other.
‘Kids here get caught up in twenty-first century culture. That can mean drugs, alcohol, apathy. But we’re trying to build community and an atmosphere of caring.’
Jamie’s aim this year is to involve the local kids more in church activities, especially through afternoon programmes. He is keen to use Vision180 magazine as a key component and is delighted about the Vision180 youth online radio stream.
"Kids here get caught up in drugs, alcohol, apathy. But we're trying to build a community of caring."
"It would make so much of a difference. There’s nothing much here for kids to listen to, other than very secular pop and rock. But—strange thing—a local radio station airs Vision National News. In the middle of all this country and western music, you’ll suddenly hear Bible verses and Christian–focussed news from around the world! It’s incredible."
In communities like Normanton, your support is making a transforming difference. It’s amazing to think that our Creator God—the One who breathed the stars into place and drew up the boundaries of the sea—wants us to be a co–worker with Him in this great work of spreading the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 3:9)