Watering the Earth

Rebekah Somandin, wife of MAF Arnhem Land’s Chief Engineer, accompanies the team on a Homeland Outreach to the remote community in Mirrnatja.

Story: Rebekah Somandin, Communicatios Officer, MAF Australia
Photos: Rich Thompson

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth. . .so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Anyone who has lived here knows what it’s like. The buildup before the wet season in Arnhem Land is oppressive. So, as a huge storm passed over the Gove airbase bringing with it an almighty downpour, a few of us stood in the hangar and watched the rain, basking in the relief it brought to the otherwise constant humidity.

I was reminded of the verses in Isaiah 55:8-11, which promise us that God’s Word is like the rain. It never returns to Him empty without fulfilling the purpose for which He sent it.

For us in MAF Arnhem Land, this is a very important promise to remember. We’ve been given an incredible opportunity to help homeland communities engage with God’s word.

Having served the people of Arnhem Land for over 40 years, the Yolngu communities are now inviting MAF staff to visit them regularly to teach and encourage them in the Lord.

There are some places we haven’t been able to visit for years, but thanks to funding from an MAF Australia appeal in 2013, along with new initiatives that have been put in place, MAF staff are now able to take the time to visit these remote communities. We are able to simply sit with them and build relationships.


An early start

It was only 8am and the sweat was already dripping down my legs. Finally, loaded up with water, sunscreen, sunnies and Bible, we were on our way. It was a stunning flight. The clear blue water, distinct against the striking red dirt, is something so unique to this part of the world. Off in the distance I could see dark rain clouds, and wondered if they were going to get any closer.

We were headed to Mirrnatja, one of the most remote communities we fly into. Alistair Youren from the UK and Prabhu Pothula from India, both pilots living on Elcho Island, have volunteered to regularly visit this homeland. This was their first outreach trip there. Ministry Coordinator, Brett Nel, came along to introduce them to the community.

We had been invited to go to Mirrnatja by a prominent couple. Although they were away at the time of our visit, a number of women and children welcomed us warmly. We sat on a tarpaulin in the shade of a beautiful big tree, and Brett began by introducing us all, and then shared the story of Easter.

“Even though I may not always see the difference we make… I know His promise is true.”


Opening up

As there were a few different languages spoken in the group, most seemed too shy to talk. Eventually one lady began to share, and told us that some people in the community believe in Jesus and some do not. That is why they are keen for us to return. She shared the difference Jesus had made in her life, and how she was away in Darwin and was being harassed by a demon, so she prayed and it went away and left her. We were able to encourage her in the power of the name of Jesus.

After we talked they sang some of their favourite songs (“Jesus loves me this I know”, “This is the day that the Lord has made”) and a number of them asked for prayer. With lots of thanks and warm handshakes, we piled in the old ute and headed back to the aircraft.

Just as we were preparing to leave, another huge thunderstorm rolled overhead. I could see the rain pouring down in the distance, and God gave me confidence in His word. Even though I may not always see the difference we make, even though I may not immediately see how lives are impacted, I know without doubt that His promise in Isaiah 55 is true.


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