Australian Indigenous Ministries (AIM)
Stephen and Fiona Bignall have settled into the bush in their new Australian community, making the bungalow a home, unpacking boxes, getting their youngest daughter, Jess, into school and meeting their new neighbours.
The couple write, ‘Our month opened with the first weekend of worship with our aboriginal brethren, during which we were warmly welcomed and blessed with a sense of God’s goodness.
‘The occasion was the Northern Rivers Convention, hosted by the congregation in Gilgandra. More than 80 folk gathered, indigenous and non-indigenous, from bush towns even up to 250km away.
‘The theme was “One in Christ”, and indigenous evangelist and missionary Terry Manton (AIM) ably led six sessions of preaching’.
As the month has unfolded, the Bignalls have been getting to know core members of the local congregation (ten meet Sunday mornings and, in the early evening anything from 12 to 25 children for a children’s meeting).
The couple has been attending Bible study in church homes on Monday evenings and ‘cottage meetings’ on Tuesday nights, when local aboriginal families open a home to meet, sing, hear a brief gospel talk and then ‘chat over a cuppa’ together.
One town to which Mr Bignall has travelled with AIM is now a divided town, full of violence and drunkenness, meshed screens over shop windows and steel bars inside.
One by one the churches have closed. Only Anglican and Roman Catholic groups remain. Derelict church buildings have their windows smashed and properties littered with empty bottles and cans, including the empty AIM meeting house.
Among prayers for the family and AIM’s work, the Bignalls have asked for a sovereign work of God’s mercy in our generation among the aboriginal peoples of Australia, for clarity and stability regarding gospel teaching, and for the true grace of God to be at work among the indigenous churches.