Australian Reports (2000)
Aboriginal Revival in Queensland
Rev Ron French, editor of Living Waters, the Journal of the Queensland Synod Committee for Renewal Ministries, reports on revival in North Queensland, continuing the account we reported in the previous issue of the Renewal Journal # 14: Anointing (1999:2).
A very dramatic move of God started amongst Aborigines in the Gulf of Carpentaria (North Queensland, Australia) on 27 July 1999. The communities affected have been very hard places spiritually, with serious problems from alcoholism, petrol sniffing and violence. At Mornington Island where the revival started, local Uniting Church Pastor, Iranale Tadulaia, reported that the oldest person he had buried in the past year, had been 26 years old.
Iranale, a Fijian, has been there for five years, and has been crying out to God over the situation, with extended fasting. During one of these times two years ago, an eagle came and landed on his arm and he asked God what he was trying to say to him. He felt the Lord speak to him from Isaiah 40:31, saying, You need to fly like an eagle with strong wings to get higher and very close to Me.
After 14 days of his 21 day fast, he had a vision and saw himself preaching to the whole of the Gulf Country, resulting in a great awakening, so he made a banner depicting this and told his church about it, asking them to pray about it Some of the older ladies have been very faithful in their prayer for this vision to become a reality.
At the beginning of January 1999 Iranale felt the Lord told him to get ready for revival in July. Then the attacks began, with some racial tension against him and his family, with rocks smashing through the windows of his house until his family left for a period in a safer country. But Iranale told the Lord, I will stay until you tell me to leave!
In May he felt the Lord telling him to get ready and set the date for 27 July and invite a team for a mission. (One of those he invited had been woken up during the night to pray for Mornington Island; but he didnt know where it was.) They began a fast for 40 days and nights from 1 June to 10 July, with chain prayer from 8 pm every night. During the fast, Iranale, felt the Lord speak to him from the message to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 about some of the Gulf communities, including a bondage over the 1200 residents of Mornington Island, dating from when the first missionary there was axed to death in 1917.
So he went to the site and fasted and prayed for seven days, resulting in a breakthrough on 14 July - the day of the National Prayer gathering at Uluru. Meanwhile, the faithful ladies kept up their prayers as well, encouraged by a breakthrough at Palm Island (off the east coast of North Queensland). Many people there gave their lives to Jesus, with deliverance and healing.
Five other pastors from various denominations and nationalities joined Iranale in conducting the mission for six days - Jesse Padayachee (Brisbane), David Coppard (Townsville), Apenisa Rabai (Palm Island), Saimoni Davui (Weipa), and Richard Roughsey (Mornington Island). Music was led by Judel Jeans (Townsville), Leon Roughsey, Robert Escott and Stanley Tuilovoni. Most of these men had been used by God in the Palm Island revival.
South African pastor, Jesse Padayachee, now living in Brisbane, spoke at the meetings. Jesse comes from an Indian Hindu family that turned to Jesus Christ when he was 11 years old. God has taken him through the refining fire, so he knows what it is to fast and pray sincerely to receive a breakthrough. He lives and experiences what he preaches.
On the first night at Mornington Island over 100 people responded, and by the end of the mission, around 500 people had been touched by God. People were healed - the deaf, cripples, back pain, diabetes and heart diseases. Many committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and were freed from generational curses. A report from Iranale and Richard Roughsey says, Spirits of suicide, and of alcoholism were driven out and the old curses of sorcery and witchcraft were broken.
Their report tells of a young boy, born disabled - dumb, deaf and couldnt walk - who was healed - running around. His first word was Mum. A woman who had a stroke and had been left so that she could not speak and could hardly walk is walking around testifying about what God has done for her. A woman came to the meeting with a walking frame, but left the frame and walked home without it when the Lord healed her.
Around midnight one night, a man called his family together and spoke of what God had been doing in bringing the whole family to the Lord, saying, Everyone is welcome in this home, but from now on there is never to be any alcohol in this house.
A white policeman came to a meeting, drawn to what Aborigines were experiencing but felt too ashamed to go forward. Next day, Iranale found him sitting in a corner, spoke to him about his shame, took him home and led him to the Lord. The pub shut an hour early, with no customers. Next day there was no one at the womens shelter - they didnt need that sort of help any more!
An old woman went to Iranale, desperate for a Bible. He found an old one and gave it to her, and she gathered her whole family to read it to them all day. Iranale then sent out a plea for 500 Good News Bibles, so he could disciple the people in Gods Word, and the Bible Society was able to send boxes of them which arrived on 11 August, bringing great happiness to the new Christians.
Iranale began follow-up, discipleship, baptisms, weddings. Counselors and trainers had special teaching from Rev Rabai from Palm Island, starting the day after the mission. Future enthusiastic church leaders who intend to take part in teaching are also enrolled as trainers. They had to move out of the church because it was now too small. A Christian Youth Fellowship was born on 16 August, with over 40 youth attending. The mayor and deputy mayor, who had committed their lives to the Lord during the mission, spoke to the young people, saying they want them to change and follow Jesus in a new way of living. Our community has gone through many hard times. If God can change our lives, He can change the life of this community.
Iranale began to receive phone calls from other communities, asking them to come and hold meetings there. The group of pastors planned missions for Aurukun and Weipa from 19-24 August.
Once again, Jesses messages were simple and powerful, with solid teaching from the Bible. People responded, and Jesse would go down a line of 70 - 80 people, asking each one what they wanted him to pray for. At Aurukun, a twelve year old girl told him she was an alcoholic, and wanted to be released from that and petrol sniffing.
Around 200 responded at Aurukun in three nights, and over 100 at Weipa, seeking healing, deliverance, and the power and presence of God in their lives. Some of them didnt even wait until the preaching finished before they came forward for prayer.
One lady at Aurukun was badly crippled with pain in her knees. She came forward, asking for healing from the arthritis on the first night, returning for more prayer on the second night. Then God began to challenge her about her gambling addiction, so the third night she went out to surrender this to the Lord. She was healed, testifying to what had happened. Another woman chided her for stopping gambling when her tax check was due next week. But she was very happy in her new life. One man said, This is not gammon (pretend) Christianity! This is real!
At Weipa, the meetings were extended an extra night when Jesses flight was cancelled due to a breakdown. He asked the Lord what he wanted; feeling the Lord wanted a meeting with believers. So he began by stating this, then checking whether there were any non-Christians there. One young white woman put up her hand and was gently led away to make the commitment she wanted to make. Then he began teaching the believers from the Bible on the place of prayer in their lives. When he finished, no one could really believe that he had been speaking for two hours - it had been so profound and challenging, and just seemed like minutes.
Alan Randell, support worker for the areas Calvary Presbytery of the Uniting Church went to all the meetings. He is amazed, saying, We arent seeing anything like this anywhere else in the Uniting Church. I will never be the same - nor will anyone who was there! He is incredibly impressed by Pastor Jesse: how deeply he relates to Aborigines - and to God.
But he also reports on incredible attacks on the pastors families, as Satan tries desperately to stop the work. One had left the country for six months, another decided to leave after an attempted rape of her 12 year old daughter and snifters trashing their home while they were all at the meetings. All the pastors wives in the Presbytery except one have had major medical problems or surgery in the last year. The Presbytery is facing major financial struggles. The need to meet the challenges of the revival brings in huge new financial pressures.
Further meetings were held in Mornington Island in October and Aurukun and Weipa in November before the start of the wet season, and planned for other Gulf communities after the wet.
Please pray for the local church leaders and their families, and the evangelistic team. Pray for these exploding churches - leadership, wisdom, maturity, finance, teaching and especially discernment, true and firm - with every attack Satan tries to make.
Pray that attempts to use family loyalties to misguide or block the work of the Holy Spirit will be ineffective and that these new Christians will be protected from every attack.
When revival breaks out, as our story has already reported, Satan endeavours to push through a backlash. Since the beginning of the year 2000, Mornington Island has been rocked with three youth suicides and one shooting. Rev lrinale Tadulaia said the community has been shocked by these tragedies but still, he says, the church is full.
Another planned rally was scheduled for late March and the people were expectant. It was a community gathering following a day of fasting and prayer and confession to the Lord.
But it is spiritual warfare, up here, says Irinale.
We are being challenged very strongly. Families are still copping it. I ask you to pray, pray, pray for us that we will be protected from further attacks of the evil one and that the message and hope of the gospel will get through to this community.
Support worker with Calvary Presbytery, Alan Randall, reiterated that prayer is vitally necessary. You have no idea the way Satan is trying to destroy this work of God. We must pray. He said moves are being taken to set up prayer networks for each of Calvary Presbyterys ministers. They are on the front line and they and their families are being targeted heavily. It is a battle field and unless prayer support is provided all that has been gained will be lost.
Alan shared that Iri has found that the normal type discipling courses are not sufficient for those who find Christ. Deliverance is necessary in this very spirit minded part of the world. The people are aware of the demon grog.
Praise the Lord! They are also becoming aware, even while drunk, that Jesus is their hope and salvation. But they need to be delivered from the drink. Thus Iri and others have been involved in one on one sessions of deliverance with those who have given their lives to Christ.
But that also has not been enough. There has also been a need to reach out to the extended families with deliverance, as well as the binding of the spiritual forces around their homes.
As a result some homes now have signs advising people they are welcome but asking that their bottles of grog be left outside as they are not welcome.
Mornington Islanders are very well aware of the spirit forces which surround their island. There have been many mishaps, disappearances and tragedies in the area, which have not been understood.
The problem with deliverance is that there can be major back lashes if safety precautions are not put in place. And this in part is what has been happening. We hope to remedy this, Alan said the Presbytery meeting in June will receive a report on what has been going on and a request that intercessors be set up for all ministers and their families.
On a sideline to the move of God in Mornington Island, Iri now meets with between 40 and 50 men each Sunday night. These are the violent drunk men of the community who now realise their need for change and they want to change. They call themselves the Gubodango, meaning good man, and they meet for fellowship and spiritual guidance. Following the recent suicides the men now operate a service whereby two of them go out on patrol, picking up the drunks and bringing them back for shelter, sleep and breakfast.
They are now setting up a retreat centre on the north side of the island.
Alan said never before has he seen, in any aboriginal community, a sudden spontaneous rising up of eighty to ninety of your worst alcoholics coming and gathering for fellowship on Sunday nights and sometimes mid week as well.