From the start of BCA's work its Field Staff have come in contact with First Nations Peoples (FNP) in various ways, through its medical work, its ministry in small towns throughout rural and remote Australia and visits to cattle stations.
They have encounted FNP where they work and live. This work has occurrred and is occurring in the eras of the clash of cultures, protectionism, assimilation, self-detremination, activism and now the era of recognition and treaty making.
BCA people have struggled with the difficulties that First Nations Peoples have experienced and sought to assist where they can, often when it was not popular to stand up for Indigenous people. However, it has been non-Indigenous people ministering to First Nations Peoples.
This has now changed and today one of BCA's six priorities is to work in Partnership with First Nations Peoples to support their ministry to their own people and to all Australians.
When Paul writes to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) he reminds them of the chanfe that God has made in the lives of all God's people
'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.
The old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God
who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation' and in Galatians 3:28 'There
is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ' (NIV)
This is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives - to give us a new relationship with God. As Christ's love changes us and flows out from us this enables us to change our relationships for the better with people in our family, at work, our neighbours, friends and with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Paul's letter to the Corinthian church tells us that we have been given the ministry and message of reconciliation to God. This means proclaiming the gospel and living it out. BCA is re-setting the place of First Nations Peoples in its life. We want to support misnistry by Indigenous people not only to them. We want to see First Nations Peoples empowered to minister to their own people and to all Australians. It is part of the message and the task of reconciliation.
This Reconciliation Action Plan is a working document that will guide us as we work together to proclaim the message of reconciliation with God and live it out together.
- The Revd Joy Sandefur
Chairperson BCA's Indigenous Ministry Committee