Incredible things happen daily in the LCA. One such story involves a unique partnership between remote Lutheran congregations, Finke River Mission and Australian Lutheran College.
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Three times a year people gather in the vast expanse of Central Australia. They are 25 to 30 Aboriginal Lutheran pastors and evangelists, Finke River Mission (FRM) support staff and Australian Lutheran College (ALC) teachers. They are there for university in the bush.
As the LCA’s tertiary provider, one of the things ALC is asked to do is train pastors. This includes pastors and evangelists for the 4000-plus Aboriginal Lutheran people in Central Australia. FRM staff, who already walk with these communities for ongoing training and support, assist with the course.
As all sessions are delivered in English, FRM staff translate them into the ‘first’ or ‘heart’ languages of the Aboriginal people who attend. It’s like witnessing the first Pentecost. That’s important because faith comes by hearing God’s word and that word needs to be in the language of our heart.
Why go to such effort?
As Lutherans, one of our important values is that faith is given and learnt locally. Think, as an example, of your own baptism. You weren’t expected to travel to ‘Lutheran head office’ to be baptised. You learn and grow in that faith where you live. You serve through that faith where you live. That is why uni is held in the bush. It’s where people live. It’s their home.
Our three-way partnership is, in effect, the whole of the LCA partnering with local Lutheran congregations and communities. It’s uplifting to see different parts of the LCA working so effectively together, for the sake of faith in and through Jesus Christ.
I believe each ALC staff member who teaches at a bush uni is enriched by their experience because there is a strong sense of being co-learners. This is a unique university because it lacks experts. Instead, learning is grounded in a shared and gracious commitment under Christ to each other. It’s an incredible image of the church. Thank God for it!
On 1 July, the ABC’s Compass program broadcast ‘Bush Preachers’, a story about the bush courses and the mission history of Lutherans in Central Australia. The program can be watched or downloaded at www.abc.net.au/compass
‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’ (Romans 10:14).
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