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I have recently relinquished fulltime flying and moved into the newly created role of Ministry Development and Orientation Co- ordinator for Mission Aviation Fellowship International (MAF) in Arnhem Land, after being a pilot there for the last five years. Along with my wife, Michelle, and our two young daughters, we are serving amongst the Yolŋu Aboriginal people group.

Many people have never heard of Arnhem Land and find it hard to believe that there is still a place for missionaries in such an advanced first world country as Australia. The reality is that Arnhem Land is very remote and isolated, and is far removed from the mainstream image of "Australia". Although technically a "reached people group", many Yolŋu people only have a surface understanding of Christianity and how it can transform their lives. Many Yolŋu "Christians" still have syncretistic beliefs, blending it with ancestral worship and their traditional customs. Many still live in fear of the spirits, witchcraft and sorcery, which forms a very real part of their everyday lives.

MAF's vision is "to see isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ's name" and its purpose is "to share God's love through aviation and technology". This is the reason why MAF has been serving in Arnhem Land for nearly 40 years, providing an air service to places that are difficult or impossible to access by road for nearly half of the year due to monsoonal rains. MAF is one of very few mission agencies still serving in Arnhem Land and the Yolŋu see us as the missionaries. The Yolŋu usually take a very long time to let down their guard and trust 'outsiders' due to the atrocities and injustices from the past which are still vivid memories amongst the older generations. The Yolŋu people trust MAF staff, as they know we are a Christian organisation that has their best interests at heart. It is due to MAF's longstanding relationship with the Yolŋu that we have the unique opportunity of our staff being permitted to live and work in these remote aboriginal communities and develop the ministry opportunities that arise out of the relationships we build.

Both Michelle and I had a definite call from the Lord to serve

amongst the Yolŋu people long before arriving in Arnhem Land. We feel really privileged to have been adopted early on into the Yolŋu kinship system and having the opportunity to start a kids club with the local church in Yirrkala. It has been running in partnership with MAF for four years now with a weekly attendance of around 40 – 50 kids, and provides an excellent interaction place with the adults too.

My new role involves co-ordinating outreaches to the many remote homeland communities that have requested MAF come regularly (http://bit.ly/OuTrch); mentoring Yolŋu Christian leaders; discipling new Christians; Learning Technologies (www. maf.lt), and partnering with other mission agencies. We are really excited about these changes but it's very much a team effort, as all of these areas are interconnected and involve both Yolŋu and MAF staff working closely together to make it all happen.

MAF Arnhem Land's position is that proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel should not be separate. We have recently implemented an organisational culture change to provide margin in our operations for wider ministry focus. God has really blessed MAF's ministry in Arnhem Land with a large donation from a church to renovate the old hangar complex into a Ministry and Technologies Support Centre at the main airport which is easily accessible to the many Yolŋu flying in and out. It houses the Ministry Development office, Learning Technologies, a big training and discipleship classroom, prayer/meeting room and a Resource Shop for Christian resources.

There is a definite move of the Holy Spirit through Arnhem Land and we give God all the glory for what He is doing through MAF and our relationships with the Yolŋu people. Please pray with us that God will send more workers, including mission focused people we can partner with as the harvest is ripe but the workers are few.

Brett & Michelle
Ministry Development & Orientation Co-ordinator (MAF Arnhem Land)
www.mafnz.org.nz

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