Image: Dena Gower and Connie Clinch
For many young Indigenous Australians, it’s exciting when they begin their journey of faith and seek to know and serve God. To keep this fire burning they need role models and opportunities to learn what Indigenous leadership looks like within their communities. Many have a desire to lead but need encouragement and nurturing by their Elders to become who God has chosen them to be.
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal churches, working together through the IMA Pathways Program, are able to create the safe cultural, spiritual spaces necessary for their discipleship journey. The Pathways Program, an Indigenous-led initiative, enables like-minded young leaders to connect with one another and provide support and friendship, while also receiving valuable mentoring from Christian Elders.
Connie Clinch is a proud Noongar woman who is an artist and manager of Moorditj Keila, an Aboriginal community organisation based in South Perth. Coen Pickett is a Christian Noongar/Yamatji man who has a desire to help young people from his community. Connie and Coen are both Ngaama Ministry young Indigenous leaders and are being discipled and trained through Ngaama. Here is what they had to say about the launch of the IMA Pathways Program:
“The IMA Pathways Program is a real need for young Aboriginal leaders. It’s important that once we choose to accept Jesus Christ, we have the doors open to lead us into God’s ministry. It’s crucial, once we become on fire for the Lord, that we have the opportunity to do God’s work, wherever He chooses for us to go.”
There are many unique demands on Indigenous Christian leaders that the Pathways Program seeks to address so as to make further training and study a reality for those that are keen to further their learning.
The program offers participants relational, cultural, spiritual and learning support over a twelve-month period, with the potential to apply for a further two years of support. The program also provides opportunities for participants to learn from the experiences and knowledge of IMA Ministry Team members and their various program initiatives.
IMA Pathways Program also aims to work with the churches and ministries connected to a participant. There are opportunities for churches or ministries to invite others from their community to attend specific gatherings and learning events, so that they can grow and learn together.
Noongar man and Indigenous pastoral outreach worker, Brendon Garlett, recognises that further ministry training would benefit his community-based work in Dareton (NSW) and beyond.
“The IMA Pathways Program is a good set up for me and our mob as it’s designed to give support for us to access the right kind of training,” Brendon says.
“I’ve got a big family, lots of community expectation and commitments as well as the reality of issues that our mob face daily. Any help and support for me to do more training is needed and that’s what the Pathways Program wants to do.”
For our emerging Indigenous Christian leaders, the connections and training they receive can be vital to their journey as Christians. And you can help to provide this Great Gift to them!
When you give a Great Gift of Indigenous Mission Training for just $35, you are helping to support young leaders like Brendon to further their learning. You’re helping people like him to connect with their Christian Elders and find a place for themselves in the wider church family.
Applications for 2022 are now open. If you’re a young Indigenous person interested in Christian leadership, or know somebody who is, go to http://www.gmp.org.au/pathwaysapply to get more information, or email Colin Battersby firstname.lastname@example.org (Western Australia) or Nick Wight email@example.com (Central and Eastern Australia).