Phil Edwards, CEO of Vision Christian Media, had the privilege of interviewing Australian landscape photographer Ken Duncan and Ikuntji elder Keiran Multa at the launch of the Forgiveness Cross on Memory Mountain, located near Haasts Bluff in central Australia and 246 km from Alice Springs.
Forty years ago, the Indigenous men and women of the Ikuntji community, including some of the elders, had the vision to establish a giant cross on top of Memory Mountain. Ken Duncan started the Walk a While Foundation to help raise the funds needed.
In 2023, their dream was finally realised, and the Forgiveness Cross was officially launched during Easter, marking 100 years since four young indigenous evangelists first preached the Gospel at Memory Mountain, bringing a message of forgiveness and the reconciliation of humankind with God.
Revival and Reconciliation
‘The Holy Spirit is really moving out here, said Ken. ‘I believe there’s revival starting in this nation, and it’s happening with the indigenous people,’ said Ken. ‘The good thing about this cross is that it’s not about a denomination. It’s about Jesus.’
‘The Aboriginal people have had to fight hard against bureaucracy and all sorts of challenges. They’ve had to stand up to people and say, “No, this is our cross.”’
‘It makes me feel really proud to have black and white come together. It doesn’t matter what nationality you are; an image of God is one,’ said Kieran, Site Manager for the Forgiveness Cross project.
Walk a While and Sing-alongs
Ken’s passion for the indigenous people stemmed from his parents’ influence as missionaries. When he was travelling to different countries doing work for World Vision, he suggested they include Australia as a mission field. They agreed and commissioned Ken to take some photographs of Papunya, which is approximately 47 km from Haast Bluff. That was 23 years ago, and Ken recalls being invited to join a ‘sing-along’ at Haast Bluff.
‘It was one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard,’ said Ken, describing the event as simple, with just one light globe hanging from a tree, yet it was inspiring. ‘It wasn’t about the quality of the instruments. And some of the drummers weren’t really all together, but the sound was just amazing. Actually, when I saw it, I started to think, Oh, if only they had better lighting or if only they had better equipment. And then God said, Stop looking at that and just sit back and let it wash over you. And that’s what sing-alongs are about. It was so profound. And it’s because of the heart of these people. They’ve been singing since 1982 nearly every night in some of these communities.’
These praise and worship sing-alongs go for two or three hours almost every night. The singing is powerful. Ken describes the experience as looking up at the stars and feeling God’s presence, and it’s like an open heaven.
‘The sing-along is really great for the kids as well. The young kids have got their own songs,’ said Kieran.
‘It’s about the anointing. God often uses the foolish things to confound the wise,’ said Ken. ‘And that’s how I see myself. People say all these things about my photography, but I’m an average photographer with a great God. When God said to me, Stop looking at the natural. Just sit back and see what I can do. That’s when I’ve seen God come up with the most anointed praise and worship music with a person who has two strings on the guitar and has never played the guitar before, and all of a sudden, off they go, and the anointing hits them.’
The Power of the Forgiveness Cross
It appears there are a lot of spiritual lessons to be learned from Memory Mountain and the Ikuntji community and how they have embraced God and the visitors who come to Walk a While with them.
Ken encourages people to climb the mountain and experience what can happen when they connect with God. You can be accompanied by guides that tell stories or just go up and experience the sunrise or sunset. Ken says it’s one of the most spectacular views in the whole of Australia. From the top of the mountain, you see all the highest mountains in the Northern Territory.
‘When you come out here and sit and be still, all of a sudden, God gets your attention,’ said Ken.
The Forgiveness Cross project was also a means to empower the Ikuntji community to be able to earn income and increase employment from tourism opportunities to those who want to visit the Forgiveness Cross and Walk a While with the beautiful, good-hearted Ikuntji people. Plans to increase camping and glamping facilities are on the horizon.
If you have been inspired to visit the Forgiveness Cross on Memory Mountain and experience the majestic beauty of the region, click on the link to find out more about tours, Boomerang Carving Workshops, Kangaroo Tail Cooking, Storytelling with Indigenous Traditional Owner on the Memory Mountain website.
To hear Ken and Keiran’s full interview with Phil Edwards, click on the link below: