Going outback

Travelling thousands of kilometres to share Jesus.

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Adventists have been travelling to remote outback towns in the Northern Territory and sharing the gospel with Indigenous people and small, regional communities.

Bible workers from Tennant Creek, Martin and Michelle Tanner, were joined by literature evangelist Marian Jones, heading out on a mission trip to the community of Willowra in late September, travelling 300 kilometres south on the Stuart Highway, and then 150 kilometres west along a dirt track.

“We’ve been in Tennant Creek five years now,” Michelle explains. “Generally we’ve just been working there and in Mungkarta, which is 80 kilometres away. But we recently purchased a caravan that we can use to visit those more remote communities like Willowra.”

In Willowra, Mrs Jones spent her time door-knocking in the community, making new contacts and delivering books and resources. Mr Tanner followed up contacts and helped Aboriginal young people enroll at Mamarapha College next year.

The Tanners with Bayden Williams.

Meanwhile, Mrs Tanner spent time doing in-depth Bible studies with local Bayden Williams about the nature of man, the great controversy, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mrs Tanner met Mr Williams three years ago when he contacted her after after watching 3ABN and the messages of Doug Batchelor. Although legally blind and confined to a wheelchair, he didn’t allow this to stop him seeking Jesus.

“Bayden has fully accepted the Seventh-day Adventist message and is preparing to become a member of the Church in the future,” explained Mr Tanner. “He is a wonderful young man with a heart for Jesus. As we were leaving, Marian was able to pray with Brayden’s dad and invited Jesus into his heart.”

On the trip home from Willowra, the group spent a night at the Ti-Tree Roadhouse and met an American backpacker named Katie, sharing with her for three hours on topics like the state of the dead, eternal hellfire, the Sabbath and the perfect love of God.

More recently, the group travelled to Wadeye, more than 1100 kilometres north-west of Tennant Creek, to visit a man who asked for someone to study the Bible with him and his family. “They are the family of some of our community in Mungkarta,” says Mrs Tanner. “It’s the biggest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.”

"He opened doors for us to come here, and continues to open them."

Mr and Mrs Tanner have more trips planned soon, including one to Ampilatwatja to share Jesus with four relatives of Tennant Creek church members, and two Mamarapha students.

“There’s nothing like seeing people who you’ve studied with come to the Lord and accept the truth,” says Mrs Tanner. “We’ve made amazing relationships with people here; we’ve been really accepted by the Aboriginal community. And we always really look forward to the ATSIM camps.”

Back home, Mr Tanner says Tennant Creek church is continuing to grow with 58 people in regular attendance. Mr and Mrs Tanner also regularly spend Sabbath afternoons at Mungkarta sharing with eight family members.

“When we decided that we wanted to go into ministry, this is where God led us. It’s hard sometimes—we’ve got grown children and grandchildren who we’re a long way from, but we believe this is where God wants us. He opened doors for us to come here, and continues to open them. We have been really blessed in ministry. We love the people here. And they’re so open to hearing the message of truth.