On 30 September 2019, a very special Langham Preaching training commenced in Cootamundra, NSW. This was the first ever Langham Preaching seminar held in Australia with Australian Indigenous pastors.
Aboriginal pastor Rick Manton who ministers in Western Sydney, attended Level One Langham training at the Christian Leaders Training College in the Papua New Guinea Highlands ten years ago and believed then it could be helpful for his people. However, various circumstances prevented it happening in Australia until last year.
Fulfilment of a long-hoped and prayed for desire
Langham Preaching Regional Coordinator for the South Pacific, Stephen Williams, led the training. Joining him were ministers Steve Etherington and Cliff Letcher. Steve and his wife Narelle spent many years in Arnhem Land (northern Australia) translating the bible into the local Aboriginal language. Cliff works with Australian Indigenous Ministries.
If we look only at numbers, it appears to be a disappointing start: seven potential participants did not attend, as they were involved in another event. Consequently, there were only eight participants, from both city and country churches, including Rick and his wife Kayleen. Yet, small as it was, this event represented the fulfilment of a long-hoped and prayed for desire on the part of many in Langham Australia. “A great bond between us all was established very quickly. People responded to the training with enthusiasm. There was thoughtful participation and discussion – and it was simply great fun. A very gifted musician led our thanksgiving and singing on the course” said Stephen.
Closing the gap
So why is this training for aboriginal pastors needed? Rick and Kayleen believe that there is a “spiritual gap” between indigenous and non-indigenous pastors in Australia that needs to be closed.
For a number of reasons, many Aboriginal pastors have never attended Bible College and are not trained in how to preach. Apart from financial barriers and the demands of ministry, there is recognition that our cultural backgrounds and understandings are different. “Aboriginal pastors don’t want to come out of Bible College with a ‘western’ mind-set…but the level of preaching [in indigenous churches] needs to be lifted…we want our mob to be able to preach [the Word] clearly” explains Rick.
Indigenous communities are dealing with generational trauma; unemployment, drug and alcohol problems and domestic abuse and pastors need to be able to minister to people who are struggling with these issues. “Our community desperately needs good strong indigenous preachers to help us grow spiritually” says Kayleen.
Rick and Kayleen would love to see the Langham training spread around the country for all Indigenous pastors.
We are excited to report that Level 2 training (with an intense Level 1 refresher especially for new participants) will commence in May 2020* at Cootamundra. Please pray for indigenous preachers to be able to attend. We know that the Word preached with authority and relevance bears fruit that grows and multiplies, bringing transformation to individuals, families and communities. Please pray that this will happen for our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
*This article was originally written before the current Covid-19 pandemic and so this seminar, along with all other Preaching Seminars, is currently on hold.