Adventists have been traveling to remote outback towns in the Northern Territory of Australia and sharing the gospel with Indigenous people and small, regional communities across the country.
Bible workers Martin and Michelle Tanner, from Tennant Creek, were joined by literature evangelist Marian Jones, heading out on a mission trip to the community of Willowra in late September 2020, traveling 300 kilometers (185 miles) south on the Stuart Highway, and then 150 kilometers (93 miles) west along a dirt track.
“We’ve been in Tennant Creek five years now,” Michelle explained. “Generally, we’ve just been working there and in Mungkarta, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. But we recently purchased a caravan (motorhome) that we can use to visit those more remote communities like Willowra.”
In Willowra, Jones spent her time knocking on doors in the community, making new contacts and delivering books and resources. Martin Tanner followed up with contacts and helped Aboriginal young people enroll at Mamarapha College for the next school year.
Meanwhile, Michelle Tanner spent time doing in-depth Bible studies with Bayden Williams about the nature of man, the great controversy, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Michelle Tanner had met Williams three years earlier when he contacted her after watching 3ABN television programs and hearing the messages of speaker Doug Batchelor. Although legally blind and confined to a wheelchair, he didn't allow this to stop him from seeking Jesus.
“Bayden has fully accepted the Seventh-day Adventist message and is preparing to become a member of the church in the future,” Tanner explained. “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 traveled to Wadeye, more than 1,100 kilometers (685 miles) northwest 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,” Michelle Tanner said. “It’s the biggest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.”
The Tanners said they 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,” Michelle Tanner said. “We’ve made amazing relationships with people here; we’ve been accepted by the Aboriginal community. And we always really look forward to the [Adventist] camps.”
Back home, Tanner said, the Tennant Creek church is continuing to grow, with 58 people in regular attendance. The Tanners 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.”