I love Nungalinya College in Darwin

Nungalinya (sounds like Noon-a-lin-ya) is an Indigenous Theological College run by 3 churches working together: The Anglican Church, The Catholic Church and the Uniting Church. Isn’t it great to know and see that these three major denominations can and are working together for the body of Christ. I wish it could happen more often.

Aboriginal Students

The students (all adults) I met came from various Arnhem Land tribes eg Roper Valley, Bathurst Island, Tiwi island and Groote Island. One lady came from a clan near Lightening Ridge who wants to know how to share the gospel with the street people that she deals with in her social welfare work in Outer Sydney. It is so good to meet Aborigines that are here to learn more of the Bible so that they can take it back to their people especially the children through various programs such as a Sunday School or Bible study. Some go on to become ministers in their communities.
They have Chapel (a informal church worship time) every morning and it is marvellous to see and hear them sing and do the actions to the songs. One of the most treasured memories that I will take away with me is being invited to an impromptu dance & praise session that some the ladies had one evening under the stars. It was so beautiful to dance & mime the songs , often times in Kriol (a common Aboriginal language), sometimes in English. Many of the songs were known Hillsong type of songs that we are familiar with. Some are worship songs in their own language written by some of their people.

Aboriginal People

Have you ever considered that most Indigenous people are actually very clever. They are multi lingual in knowing several languages in addition to their own language. They also have a huge capacity for love and are more than willing to include you in their lives.

The college and its people were heavily involved in the creation of the first full bible in an Aboriginal language (Kriol) which was published and launched just last year. They are so excited to have the Bible in their own language. There are some other partial translations avail such as Yolnu (Our son, Allan’s adopted family are Yolnu which is most of North East Arnhem land). There is another language from east Arnhem land that will have the New Testament by the end of the year. Having a Bible avail is well and good but not much use if they can’t read it. The biggest problem is the literacy and numeracy level of the majority is very poor but it is improving esp amongst the younger generation. A couple of Allan’s ‘brothers’ are at boarding school in Darwin and doing very well.

Joining in

Anyway back on track... We didn’t get to many of the Chapel services as they are at 8.30 in the morning which is part of the best time for working here as it gets too hot to work in the afternoons. Even now in winter, 30 degrees is common in the afternoons with an overnight minimum not less than 18 whilst we’ve been here. We do stop and have morning teas and some meals with the students here in the Dining Room, which helps us to get to know them. Some are here for the first time, others have been here several times. Some courses run from 2 weeks to 6 weeks generally speaking with some courses needing a second or third session of stays. Most need to stay on site as they are more often than not from remote areas even islands so daily transport is impossible. Some are here once and others come back several times for further education. Some may need literacy help too. A rare few go on to do a full theological certificate, some even to a full theological degree. The college would love to encouage more to go on to the full certificate and take the Gospel message back to their own people in their own language & culture.  I have met quite a few Aboriginal Deacons and Ministers that have trained here. It is such a vital ministry. Money and resources is extremely limited even after they have trained, they can’t always be as useful as they otherwise could as they don’t have the resources to follow through with back on land, in their tribes etc. The college here would also like to introduce more courses esp in vocational skills such as Hospitality (which is starting next semester) and Child Care training is being considered.

More information

Do take at look at their website and gain more of an understanding of what Nungalinya is all about. There are some exciting photos there too. http://www.nungalinya.edu.au/index.html

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