Australian Aboriginal Outreach
Halls Creek, Western Australia
A Missions Trip Unlike Any Other!
‘Go into all the world’ is a command that has become second nature to Dr. Kameel Majdali, Director of Teach All Nations Inc. Sixty plus countries on five continents proves it. Yet nothing would compare to the trip he made to the great Australian outback to be the guest speaking at the annual Australian Aboriginal Outreach (AA0) in Halls Creek, Western Australia (a mere 3,000 kilometers N.W. from the state capital, Perth, and 1,200 kilometers S.W. from Darwin, Northern Territories. All other towns are a minimum 300 kilometers away!
This annual gathering would host delegates from all over Australia who would need to travel long distances, often for days. His host, Max Wiltshire, would do teaching sessions on Effective Aboriginal Ministry (EAM) while he was asked to speak on ‘End Times’ and how they dove-tail with current world events.
By every measure, Max Wiltshire is a remarkable. A ‘bear-sized’ man, he is large in other ways. A successful businessman who came to Christ in 1978, he thought that God would use his business acumen to raise finances for the kingdom of God. What he soon discovered is that God did not want his money-making abilities: God wanted him. He and his late wife Beatrice (from Vanuatu) were led by God to sell their two freehold homes in North Queensland and move thousands of kilometers to the west. Their destination: Halls Creek, Western Australia. This veritable ‘wide spot in the road,’ was a hamlet had 600 souls. It was a place of drunkenness, debauchery, even killings. Often the police would patrol the main street with bright lights…almost like a Nazi concentration camp. Could any good thing happen in such a place?
They did not know a soul in Halls Creek. With no patrons, supporters, or endorsements—just the call and conviction of the LORD—Max and Beatrice started the church in 1982. At that time, the Assemblies of God in Australia had only three aboriginal churches. The hamlet had only one full-blood aboriginal attending a Protestant church.
Shortly after commencing the church, a revival broke out in Halls Creek. Within 12 months, out of a population of 600 souls, 300 were now attending the new Assembly of God Church. It was a time a great spiritual excitement. Eighty percent of the population would attend rallies. Where a western church would be fortunate to have 10% of the congregation at the church prayer meeting, the Halls Creek Church had 100% attendance rate. There have been eight recorded resurrections from the dead.
Like a scene straight out of the ‘Transformation Videos,’ Halls Creek had a tremendous change of fortune since the revival. Infrastructure improvements include: supermarket, hospital, civic center, aquatic center, Kimberley TAFE, road house, other shops, motels, sports oval, and Centrelink.
In 1996, another revival broke out in Bidgydangga—200 km south of Broome. It ushered in 400 souls into the Kingdom of God in 48 hours. The place was swarming with 100s of people. After several months they settled down to 250. Church is still going under Pastor William, who himself was saved in the revival. Revival headed by a man who in 1967 came out of the Central Desert and had not seen a white person before then.
Since 1992, Max has been on the road. Beatrice died in 2000 and a few months later he married Meroni, a young Fijian widow who also was involved in aboriginal ministry in Victoria. Their activities include: Leadership training, church planting, revival meetings with healing, pastor camps, and the annual Halls Creek Convention, which has been held for the past twenty-five years (1983). Max’s son, Brett Wiltshire and his wife Justine have taken over the church in Halls Creek. Today, the Wilshire family—which includes Max, Meroni, and four dependent children (Itu 18, Maryjo 16, Jeke 11, and Kimmy 3), travel in a re-fitted school bus across Australia ‘confirming the churches.’
By every measure, Max Wiltshire is an apostle. He was called and sent by God to Australia’s indigenous people. He plants churches and moves in signs and wonders. He is also a rare ‘father figure’ to many.
AAO is the first Pentecostal structure in aboriginal ministry in Australia’s history. Today 40 aboriginal churches are part of the AAO structure. Participation is by choice.
After five years of operation, the Lord gave Pastor Max great insight into aboriginal ministry, one of which he shares freely at the AAO Convention. Alumni of the training sessions return again and again to hear these principles afresh. He insists that it unwise and wrong to send someone who is untrained, unskilled and culturally insensitive into aboriginal work. Even though workers are desperately needed, better to have no workers than untrained: the harm can be much greater than any potential good. Cross culture burns, inflicted by lack of training and a poor spiritual life, are third degree burns. Former missionaries to the aborigines who did not receive or accept training got burnt and don’t want to get near it again.
Pastor Max teaches that the gap between Australian aboriginal culture and Australian white culture is the greatest chasm in the world. The two cultures are not compatible. There is no culture that is even remotely like the aboriginal culture; other cultures can be compatible, one with another, but not this one. To bring aborigines into western society is like taking a white Aussie into traditional aboriginal culture. The old mindset is that aboriginal culture was from the pit of hell and only if you westernize can you have a fighting chance to ‘please God.’ These factors have been a big impediment to reaching Australia’s 300,000 plus indigenous people.
In short, Australian white culture is western while Aboriginal culture is animist. Western culture is highly aggressive and has been successfully exported to many parts of the developing world, thanks in part to ‘globalization.’ Yet aboriginal cultural has proven to be resistant to western inroads—perhaps the most resistant of any culture. Yet this is not necessarily all bad (after all, who said western culture—especially in its post-Christian phase—is perfect?). For example, Aboriginal culture incorporates at least five of the ten commandments and teaches that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Yet is there even one commandment that is overtly espoused by western culture? And on what basis is the forgiveness of sins?
The culture gap between westernized, highly developed, materialistic society versus the animist aboriginal is enormous. Westerners live for what you can feel, hear and touch, but animist are more orientated to the spirit, transcendent, and unseen realm. They are also more communally minded compared to the fiercely individualistic westerner. The aboriginal culture is consistent from Cape York QLD to Broome WA, even if the outward is different, the heart is the same. Many Australians reason that since we all live in the same country, we share and understand the same culture. The fact is: we do not.
As in any cross-cultural ministry, we have to be prepared to follow I Corinthians 9:22 says to become all things to all men. Yet white Aussies were not prepared to become an aborigine to an aborigine. We demanded it of them but not the other way around. The training requirements for aboriginal ministry is more stringent than overseas, because of the culture gap. You have to have Bible training, WHI, and 12 months of training at Halls Creek before appointment. AAO is desperate more missionaries but will send couples home if they are not suitable.
With 40 churches under its banner, AAO is looking to plant more. But the crying need is for workers. Finance is also an issue, since distances are vast and the price of petrol & diesel is high and rising.
Dr. Kameel Majdali, Director of Teach All Nations Inc., was the guest speaker at the Halls Creek Convention 5-10 August 2008. The main topic was ‘End Times.’ Delegates came from NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, and, of course, Western Australia. Aborigines are not punctual…they are early! They can come one hour or more before a service, just to make sure they get a seat!
The aboriginal delegates listened with reverent wonder as they heard how some current world events match up with Bible prophecy. They learned about events in Europe, the Middle East (Israel and Iraq), and Russia. Even the toddlers, who stay in the meeting and can be rowdy, succumbed to the silent awe as their parents and neighbors were touched, challenged, and blessed.
Some of the delegates were going through a ‘dry spell.’ So Dr. Kameel called for a night of ‘Kimberley Pentecost’ (the plateau region in northern Western Australia is called ‘Kimberley—large in size but exceptionally sparse in population). Delegates were taught to ‘…open your mouths wide and I will fill it’ (Psalm 81:10ff). Even before being told to start, the sound of Pentecost and revival began to powerfully ascend. People fell down without anyone laying hands on them. Many were Baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (Acts 2:4) for the very first time.
Testimonies were given. Some, after taking the microphone, could not even speak in English because they were overcome by the language of the Spirit. One man testified that he was healed of his backsliding and his wife had come to the LORD. A lame man was healed. People were delivered. Some accepted Christ for the very first time, including young Jonno on the last night.
Dr. Kameel preached the final sermon on the topic of victory (I Corinthians 15:57). Jesus Christ—and only Him—has won the victory over the most formidable and menacing foes known to humanity: sin, sickness, death, hell, and the devil. He also graciously gives us this same victory. The convention responded overwhelmingly to God’s wonderful word. Dr. Kameel anointed with oil and prophesied to the aboriginal pastors and white missionaries. Pastor Gerard Kellar is being raised up to become an ‘aboriginal Max Wiltshire,’ taking on his apostolic mantle and helping spread the influence. Max and Mereoni received a prophecy that they would go to other parts of the world, including Africa.
Aboriginal sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and respect for preaching of God’s Word help explain why there was a consistent ‘revival atmosphere’ in the convention. Would to God that ‘the fire of the LORD’ would spread from the revived aboriginal community to Australians from all states and races. Come Holy Spirit!