Christians on Galiwinku (Elcho Island) and surrounding areas are excited by the success of a Dhipirri homeland revival rally that brought Yolngu believers together.
Milingimbi local Elizabeth Ganygulpa, an ALPA (Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation) Director and Chairperson of Manapan furniture manufacturers, was inspired by the rally.
“We’d been working on it and preparing it, to be part of the rally,” said Elizabeth. “It was a good gathering. Many people shared about their journey with Christ, how they found Jesus, what He has done for them, for their lives.”
The grace-themed rally was held at Dhipirri, on Arnhem Land’s mainland, over a whole weekend with worship and testimonies extending long into the evening around a bonfire.
Pioneers missionary and MAF pilot, Prabhu Pothula, partners with Yolngu Christians on Galiwinku in sharing the gospel and discipling believers. He describes a typical Yolngu-led gathering, which differs markedly from a western church service.
“The rally started at 8pm with songs and worship,” said Prabhu. “That goes on for a long time, and everything is going on in between. You might have a little bit of a break, and maybe someone plays a song then. So, it's not a church service in the way that we normally go to church.
“It's a mix of worship, sharing Dawu (the word of God, or good news), and testimonies, anything that God puts in their hearts. It's a time to celebrate Jesus, really. Because other times, other celebrations or sadness happens, but this time is specifically for God, and it’s amazing.”
Prabhu’s work as an MAF pilot on Galiwinku enables him to provide travel support for Christian ministry in homeland communities, and he flew five trips from Galiwinku to Dhipirri for the rally.
“People said, ‘Look, there's a rally happening’,” Prabhu said. “And they’re all excited because MAF supports this sort of thing. People want to fly with MAF. So, it's nice for us to be able to support these trips.”
Despite the relatively short distance, a MAF flight can be the difference between reaching a destination safely and quickly or ending up in distress at sea, when Elcho Islanders travel by boat to the mainland. Two boatloads of people came from the island to the Dhipirri rally, but one of the boats had to be abandoned on the way.
Christine Burupuru Guyala, another believer from Galiwinku, feels strongly about flying with MAF.
“Jesus was leading me to go [to the rally],” she said. “Every rally, God’s been telling me, every time, every rally, ‘Go with MAF,’ because my uncle (Mark Yinya) started with MAF.”
God’s grace was the theme of the rally, and Elizabeth Ganygulpa shared her personal experience of grace.
“It’s about when we are weak, God has power,” she said. “His grace is sufficient. Whenever you feel yourself struggling, feeling down, things are not working out for you, that’s when His grace is sufficient for you.”
As Prabhu thanks her for the rally and for flying with MAF, Elizabeth looks up with a smile and says, “See! That in itself is grace.”