Opinions on Social Justice from the frontlines of Australia.
30 June, 2012
NAIDOC week this week!!
As I'm sure many of you are aware, NAIDOC Week is coming up very soon! NAIDOC Week is always the first week in July. This year, the dates are Monday, July 2 - Sunday, July 8. NAIDOC is the preferred week of celebration / observance in the Aboriginal Calendar. What is not so well know is the Christian origins of NAIDOC.
The final day of NAIDOC is always a Sunday, to honour the request of local, legendary Aboriginal Christian leader, William Cooper, who worked alongside other local Aboriginal Christians, early last century, here in Melbourne, to establish a 'Day of Observance' of the First People of the land or 'Aboriginal Sunday'.
So, what is now known as 'NAIDOC Week' was first and foremost a plea by William Cooper, to the churches of the nation, to observe 'Aboriginal Sunday' - just one day in the year of prayerful awareness of Aboriginal people and their God-given place and future in this land.
From1940 to 1954 'Aboriginal Sunday' was observed in churches throughout Australia, on the Sunday before Australia Day. (Initially called a 'National Day of Mourning' in recognition of the suffering and dispossession of their people
From1955 onwards, the day was changed to the first Sunday in July and was called 'National Aborigines Day' - which became a secular event.
1957 'NADOC' (the National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee) was formed to organise the day.
1989 'NADOC' was changed to 'NAIDOC' (the National Aboriginal & Islander Day of Observance Committee) to include Torres Strait Islanders.
To honour the faith of these godly Aboriginal men - William Cooper, Pastor Sir Douglas Nichols, William Ferguson and many others who led the struggle for the survival and dignity of their people last century - I believe it is most appropriate to respond to their plea. I cannot think of anything more honouring to God, for the churches in Australia, than to reverse 242 years of superiority towards Aboriginal people by responding to this request, made by their Christian leaders in a time of spiritual revival amongst their people in this region.
Many Christian people throughout Australia, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal, have an assurance that it is God's will and desire to move sovereignly in Australia through spiritual revival amongst Aboriginal people which will impact the churches and the nation. Having personally witnessed the transforming power of God's Spirit during an Australia-wide spiritual revival that quietly impacted Aboriginal Australia from north to south and west to east in the late 1970's and early 1980's, I earnestly pray for a return of those days. The need is urgent. We all know a great cleansing needs to take place across our nation. Who would have thought that Aboriginal Australians would take the lead? Who would have dreamed that the last could be first? Most assuredly, Jesus!!
For those of us who haven't already planned / suggested a 'Day of Observance'/ 'Aboriginal Sunday' in our churches during NAIDOC, the good news is that the month of July is widely recognised as NAIDOC Month! One suggestion might be to watch the movie 'A Fair Go for a Dark Race' (First Australians SBS series) which brings alive the story of Cummeragunga and the power of unity in Christ when Aboriginal and NonAboriginal people stood together to see God's will done and His Kingdom come. Other worthwhile options could be to invite a local Aboriginal Christian leader to speak or to have a fundraising meal / collection in support of their work in this city / region. The ECCIYN (East Coast Christian Indigenous Youth Network) Annual Camp is also coming up in October so now is the time for sponsoring local Aboriginal Youth to attend this wonderful camp which attracts and inspires ! Aboriginal young people from all over Australia.
Many thanks for your prayerful support for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in ministry today and for your honouring of those who bravely led the struggle in the past.