'Doesn’t matter about our tribe - we’re all one in Christ here'
Michael’s story | No one has the wrong skin
“I live in Tennant Creek now. I moved here in 1978 and I got a job working for the town council. Later I went up to Darwin to study at Bible College and to find out how God wants his people to live.”
“I became a believer in Jesus a long time before that. I’ve been going to the church that meets here in the Australian Indigenous Ministries (AIM) building, on the corner of Standley Street, since 1985. We have Sunday services and we have gatherings through the week.
“In aboriginal culture, skins are really important. It’s a system that tells us who we can marry and who we can’t marry. In some groups, though, if someone is from the wrong skin, you can’t look that person in the eye, or you can’t say their name out loud, or share any room or space with them. It can cause trouble at times. If someone walks into a building from the wrong skin, someone else may walk out.
“But in our church here in Tennant Creek, there are no skin customs like that. We do follow good traditional ways, like we respect our elders, but we don’t avoid people. That’s what Christ has done for us. He’s made us one family, so there’s none of that here. We have unity in Christ, and that means it doesn’t matter about our tribe, or our family disputes, we’re all one in Christ here. We still marry according to our customs, and we follow other cultural traditions that are good, but we don’t do it if it’s contrary to the Gospel. We show love to each other, because we know we’ve been loved.
“Of course, we still have our problems. But when I first heard the gospel, I couldn’t believe that God loved me. He loved me. In Romans 5, it says that Jesus died for us while we were sinners. And we’re all sinners. We’re not perfect. We have troubles. But God loves us. That’s what it says in Romans 5.”
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)