Kevin Merritt’s story is heartbreaking. His young life was torn apart in 1946 when he, his mother and four of his 12 siblings were taken from their home to the Moore River Native Settlement, run by the Western Australian Government.
“We didn’t know it at the time, but we had become part of the Stolen Generations,” Mr Merritt recalls in “God Was With Me” from Our Stories, God Stories, a new resource produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM), a department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.
“Life at Moore River was harsh. We were separated from our mother. She could hear us crying for her at night but there was nothing she could do about it. At times we received severe beatings; in fact, my brother was beaten with a stock whip for something he didn’t do. It was a cruel place.”
Mr Merritt’s school years were happier times—he spent lots of hours boxing and playing football. But his life had no real direction until he met Barbara, who he married in 1968. Barbara, a Seventh-day Adventist, influenced him to commit his life to God.
Our Stories, God Stories is filled with stories like this: stories of hardship, loss, outback life, isolation and, ultimately, being transformed through Jesus’ love.
“They are stories about how God has worked in people’s lives,” ATSIM director Pastor Darren Garlett said. “It’s an easy reading little booklet that will get people thinking about God and how He has been a part of their life.”
Although primarily aimed at Indigenous communities, Pastor Garlett said the booklet has wide appeal.
“It’s a resource for anybody,” he said. “The stories are from right across Australia. Some of the people telling the stories are students at Mamarapha College (an Adventist Bible college in Western Australia). So it’s talking about the impact of the college on their life as well.”
ATSIM has also recently produced a collection of postcards and posters, which are proving very popular across the outback.
“It (the ministry) is just growing and growing,” Pastor Garlett said. “It’s growing in areas where we don’t have any Adventist churches. We have got people hearing about it or getting hold of a resource and then from there they want to know more and they start contacting us. So it’s exciting.”
ATSIM resources are available at: http://www.atsim.org.