40 Stories: Where does my help come from

Sandra Wangarr Dhamarrandji, Elcho Island, Bible Translator and Media Teacher

When I had a hard time, Jesus was there, helping me, strengthening me. If you are hurt, God is with you so you can help other people.

I can still remember my father, but I grew up with my uncles. I was not really interested in school, not really thinking about the future. Just growing up, had fun, then I started a family and then went to Ban’thula, just living off the land, simple life. Beautiful.

We used to go to Sunday school during the mission time. And I had that little treasure inside of me, but we were busy with family. When we were living at Dharrwar, we had family fellowship every evening, because all the old people were teaching us and helping us how to be strong. That’s how I got living for Jesus, but it was just on the surface.

But the turning point for me was when I was living at Dharrwar, I had a dream. The whole world was going to be flooded. People are asking God for help. And couple of days later I got a call – “Can you come to the translation centre? I want somebody to help me.” When I went down, I saw that poster right on the front door, Psalm 121, in Djambarrpuyngu language, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord that made heaven and earth.” I remembered about that dream I had at Dharrwar and from that time I’ve been working now at the Bible translation centre.

Margaret Miller, Facilitator in Coordinate, Galiwin’ku, Uniting Church: I first met Wangarr in 1994. God had been calling her to work in the translation centre with the Bible translation team. By 2008, we were part of a team of eight. People we were able to see the New Testament dedicated in this community at Galiwin’ku.

Sandra: After I made my first presentation, I got interested about media.

Margaret: Wangarr said at the end of that, that’s what I’d really like to do. There’s very many different ways that we can share God’s word. And I want to work on those many different ways. Together we started responding to people’s needs.

Sandra: For Sunday school, kids’ club.

Margaret: Wangarr was showing exceptional aptitude in her media interests, learning all about computers and PowerPoint presentations and Movie Maker.

Sandra: Different ways, especially telling Bible stories because at the same time, you’re teaching them about Jesus, to go deeper so you can be closer to him in a deeper way of life.

In 2013 I went to study media studies at Nungalinya college [in Darwin]. I studied different ways of talking about Jesus. You can see clearly God’s hand in all creation of how big God is. I started wondering how I’m going to teach when I go back, I used to help all the other student. Then I was asked to come back as teaching media assistant.

Margaret: I do see that her confidence in the media work has grown so that she can be helping community when she’s back here.

Sandra: 25 years now I’ve been at the translation centre with Margaret.

Margaret: We’ve talked about, well, who is it that’s asking for help and who is it that needs Bible studies?

Sandra: I went to Milingimbi to take the presentation about God’s nature.

Margaret: She took all her equipment, her data projector, her computers and set it all up there in the park. And she had absolutely everyone’s full attention.

Sandra: I see a lot of people, especially old people crying. Maybe it touched their heart, you know, simple Scripture use in Djanbarrpuyngu language.

Margaret: And I saw it down here in the community. When we went down to the beach camp to screen up on the front wall of the house, it reached out to not just one household but many households.

Sandra: They want me to go back there, to Milingimbi and Ramingining.

Margaret: The right timing is in God’s will. Where that might take her in the future, only God knows.

Sandra: In my heart, I want to go out that way in the bush, maybe make a big trip and visit other communities because old people die. You have to teach your young, help them how to live, how to see Jesus with their own life, their everyday daily life. They can see, they can pray, but they’re not really following Jesus.

If you are well educated here in your mind but not in your heart, you are nothing – that’s how I see people. And if I see young people with strong heart and faith in Christ, you teach them to draw closer to God or to know Jesus more and teach them how to help other people through the resource of the Bible translation centre that’s helping in the future.

Jesus is like a friend, but a deeper friend. No matter how bad you are, Jesus is there always. Even if you’re away from the family, Jesus is there and you know Jesus is there with them. You can feel comfort, a peace here and there with your family, wherever we go.

We have big trouble, big problem, Jesus is there. We can help comfort other people and bring them closer to myself and to God. I hope all the young people know their future right now is to come together to learn more about Jesus so they can help their people, their tribe to bring them closer to God. That’s what I’m looking for, what I’m aiming for, with the help of the Spirit.

You can watch the video of Sandra Wangarr here. It’s by 40 Stories, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.