Indigenous art book paints faith in living colour

Max Conlon loves painting the Bible. The well-known Aboriginal artist from the Kabi Kabi tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, sees his biblical paintings as a tool to serve God and share Christ.

“It’s really good because it engages people, unsaved people, and Christians who are going through struggles in life and it builds them up,” says Conlon, one of 67 Indigenous artists who have contributed to a magnificent new book, Our Mob, God’s Story.

Conlon, who dedicated his life to Jesus after becoming a Christian at age 16, sees “benefits for everyone” from this “wonderful tool” God has blessed him with. It not only opens doors to spread the gospel but empowers and brings a sense of identity to “my own people.”

Our Mob, God’s Story, published by Bible Society Australia, represents an “amazing journey” over five years for Bible Society’s Louise Sherman, who edited the book with South Australian author Christobel Mattingley.

“The book is promoting the influence the Bible has had on our First Nations people.” – Louise Sherman

“It’s been amazing to work with so many artists across Australia,” says Sherman. “The book is promoting the influence the Bible has had on our First Nations people. It will also promote the work we do in translation, publication and Bible engagement.”

Inawantji Scales, from the Pipalyatjara community in the APY Lands in the northwest of South Australia, has been painting since she was young. In addition, she works for Bible Society, translating books from the Old Testament into the Pitjantjatjara language.

She has been a Christian since hearing the voice of Jesus telling her to love, trust and forgive while she was driving on the Stuart Highway near Alice Springs.

She says she got the vision for her painting of Jesus Walking on the Water while listening to the Hillsong song Oceans.

“[The song says] ‘Lead me to where my trust is without borders.’ It’s from the Scriptures – about Jesus on the water, but also us also on the water, taking a step of faith, letting the Spirit of God lead wherever he wants to lead us and test our faith and make it stronger.”

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