God answers prayers of indigenous believers

AMS Staff

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prayer points

- Praise God for Jim and Maxine’s appointment and the faithfulness and patience of the church at Minto.
- Pray that Jim and Maxine will settle in quickly and get to know the community.
- Pray that a midweek children’s ministry would start.

by Geoff Robson

After three years of waiting, hoping and praying, an indigenous congregation at Minto has finally found a pastor to help them take the next step in their ministry.
On December 7, Jim Lawrence will be officially commissioned as staff worker for the congregation of 12 adults and 20 children, which meets every Sunday at Minto Baptist Church.
Mr Lawrence’s appoint-ment is in partnership with the Wollongong Region of Sydney Diocese. The Regional Council has provided funding to help the church employ a pastor for at least two years.
Up until now, the congregation had operated independently. Jenny Shill-ingsworth, a founding member of the congregation, said the arrival of Mr Lawrence and his wife, Maxine, has created great excitement in the church. “We just love Jim and Maxine,” she said. “They’re such a godly couple, and such a great example to our community.”
After coming to Christ as teenagers, Jim and Maxine have served in full-time ministry for around 20 years. Much of their work has been in pastoral ministries such as the Aboriginal Evangelical Church, a congregation in Melbourne.
Mr Lawrence most recently worked at Bimba-deen College in Coota-mundra, an indigenous Christian college where students learn both theology and business skills in a culturally appropriate setting. While he says he enjoyed his time there, the role in Minto offers a way back to direct pastoral ministry.
“We love working with people,” Mr Lawrence said. “Although we worked with people at Bimbadeen, we would have liked to have been out in the community more. We’re looking forward to this opportunity.”
The long-term goal at Minto is to reach the thousands of indigenous people in the Macarthur region, which, according to statistics, is one of the largest resettlement area in NSW.
With a close-knit indigenous community gathered from all parts of the state, Mr Lawrence has already met distant relatives and many people from the Gamilaroi people, his tribe.
“That gives me, as an indigenous person, the avenue to form some sort of relationship with them, to come and talk with them and eventually bring the gospel to those people,” he says. “It gives me an open door.”
Maxine Lawrence said the church is now praying for an opportunity to start a midweek children’s ministry. She believes kids in the area would ‘jump at the chance’ to attend church if a suitable ministry group was offered. “Our church is situated right in the centre of Minto, which is a Housing Commission area,” she said. “So we’re in prime position. That’s where a lot of Aboriginal people live. God has given us a good place to minister.”
With indigenous ministries in place at Mt Druitt and Redfern, the appointment of the

Lawrences is another landmark for Sydney Diocese. In October, Synod overwhelmingly supported a measure aimed to increase funding for indigenous ministry through a percentage of sales from church trust property. Sydney Diocese has an indigenous population of 46,000.