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Bush week - a memorable student experience

ALC partners with Finke River Mission (FRM) to provide 2 separate weeks of training for Aboriginal pastors and evangelists each year. The training sessions are held in bush sites located in Central Australia, with participants coming from far and wide to attend. Jacob Fabich (4th year pastoral student) attended this most recent course from 25-29 September, along with Dr Stephen Pietsch who presented on the topic, ‘Grief’. Here Jacob shares his experience.

My bush week experience began with a 6am flight from Adelaide Airport on a Sunday morning. Given the early start, Dr Pietsch and I were somewhat bleary eyed. We arrived in Alice Springs in time to attend Church, followed by a combined lunch with the International Lutheran Nurses Study Tour and were all set to leave after lunch. We found out “after lunch” was rather ambiguous!

By the time we departed Alice for our destination – Spotted Tiger Campground in Hart’s Range, just south of Atitjere, it was around 4.30pm. We arrived and set our swags up in the dark and after being assured that snakes don’t usually wander into camp, Dr Pietsch found one under his swag. Needless to say, a restless night followed for me who didn’t have any flywire on the swag!

Our next challenge was the wild weather – we had terrific wind (not as a result of the food!). Two mornings in a row I woke up and said to Dr Pietsch, “glad to see you’re still here!” The wind however, was too much for our translator, David’s tent, which blew down in the middle of the night.

Then came the rain! Wind and rain don’t make teaching outdoors particularly easy but we forged on, making the best of what we had and found a shelter where we weren’t too damp.

While the teaching conditions weren’t ideal, the teaching certainly was! Our studies were on suffering, grief and lament – what our Aboriginals brothers call “sorry time.” The studies all sprung out of texts in the Bible – Lamentations 2 and 3; Psalm 22; Psalm 23; The story of Lazarus (John 11); and the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24). These were impactful studies that were at times quite emotional.

I really enjoyed being able to talk with the Aboriginal pastors, who were very welcoming and appreciative of us being there. It was good to step into their culture and to do things their way including singing hymns in their languages (Arrernte and Luritja).

It was good to see how the wider church can also be a part of Aboriginal ministry. The cooks on this camp were from the Loxton area, and the ladies from the Loxton congregation sent biscuits along for everyone to enjoy. It makes me wonder what other ways congregations (particularly small ones) might be able to contribute to the ministry and mission of the LCANZ.

Overall, it was a wonderful week of teaching and fellowship with our fellow brothers in Christ. I feel that I have gained a better understanding of Aboriginal culture from this experience, and most importantly, have learnt that I share the same need that Aboriginal people have for Christ and the Gospel.