2023 News

Praying for Change

Wednesday, 5 July 2023

Dear Friends, 

How long would you pray for change?

In June I travelled across the river border from Mildura to Dareton, NSW. The township of 500 people includes many Indigenous Australians. I was there to visit the Dareton Youth and Community Centre. A project supported by Indigenous Ministries Australia (IMA).

But I wouldn't be visiting if it wasn’t for the prayers of one faithful intercessor. 

Back in 1944, Violet Waters, better known as Vi, started to work with and pray for the local Indigenous people. She prayed that God would provide the resources to care for the young people. That establishment of an Aboriginal ministry would happen in the Dareton town centre.

Vi was also affectionately known as 'Aunty Vi' by her Indigenous friends. She prayed faithfully for years. But no permanent Indigenous ministry occurred. As she grew older, she began to worry that this would be one of those unanswered prayers. 

Then, in 2007, over 50 years later her prayer was answered. 

The vision for the Dareton Youth and Community Centre was launched.

The local Church of Christ merged with the Uniting Church to consolidate their mission activities. Together, with the leadership of John and Ruth Saulo, they started the youth centre to serve the local Indigenous young people. When Vi was 99 years old, and shortly before she passed, she was able to meet John and Ruth Saulo. 

When I visited in June, it was a hive of activity. Young people flowing in and out, doing craft, playing table tennis and PlayStation. Sitting around the outdoor fire pit chatting and eating the food provided. The young people were happy and relaxed, welcoming me and inviting me to play games with them (which I lost - all of them!)

There were 25 young people there when I dropped in, but I’m told it can swell to 70 on peak days.

Ilker Deli, the Centre Manager, serves them faithfully and provides generous hospitality. He has a warm heart and big smile. He greets each young person by name. Ilker tells me they didn’t talk to him for six months when he first started. But now they give him the greatest compliment - teasing him in the friendliest way. 

The youth centre, located in an old mechanic’s garage, is one of the most noticeable landmarks in the rural town. Inside, Ilker has placed Christian posters on the walls. This is to reinforce why the youth centre exists, serving as a visible witness in that space. 

This environment was the answer to Aunty Vi’s prayers over all those years. 

Now, there are hopes of recruiting a second youth worker to share the load. Expectation is for an Indigenous female to complement Ilker’s efforts. There are also plans to provide accessible toilet amenities. 

Without those prayers, Vi’s vision may never have happened. But it did, and the vision for Dareton’s Indigenous youth is still unfolding. 

How long might we also pray for change? 

The Apostle Paul puts it like this:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

In faith, 

John Lamerton

Indigenous Ministries

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