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Harvest made sure I was ready for my call

Roland VanDerVelde

"It's often disheartening to see the plight of the Aboriginal people, but it's also great to see God's hand at work in our lives and some of the people we come in to contact with."

What did you study at Harvest Bible College?

Diploma of Ministry in 2013, both on campus and online.

Where have your studies at Harvest taken you?

Our family raised support and moved to Arnhem Land, NT shortly after completing my study at Harvest to become missionaries to the Yolgnu Aboriginal people. Harvest support the work God has called us to which we are extremely grateful for.

We work with an organisation called Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) bringing the hope of Jesus to one of the remotest parts of Australia. MAF deliver medical care, emergency relief, long term community development and Christian hope to the people of Arnhem Land through aviation and technology. The organisation operates in over 25 countries to provide an aviation service as a lifeline for those in great need.

MAF have provided a lifeline for 40 years now they are respected by the Aboriginal people and that has built opportunities to share the gospel with very reserved and suspicious people. We work with and disciple Yolgnu Aboriginal Christians to bring the message of God’s love to remote communities. Whenever we go out and do overnight mission trips, the people want us to come back again sooner.

We try to empower and encourage them to grow themselves and their community because we can’t get to them regularly enough and the impact is best when it is spread by the people themselves. We have a lot of resources and technology that we distribute to help them. Most Aboriginal Christians struggle with syncretism with very strong pulls for them to continue with their animistic worship alongside a Christian faith. For this reason discipleship is very important which is what we focus a lot on.

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How did studying at Harvest prepare you for what you’re doing now?

Arnhem Land is an extremely dark place spiritually. Studying at Harvest greatly helped me prepare me for ministry here where I am confronted with spiritual warfare on a daily basis. Harvest also helped me prepare for leading fellowship and discipleship which is paramount to Aboriginal ministry.

It’s often disheartening to see the plight of the Aboriginal people but it’s also great to see God’s hand at work in our lives and some of the people we come in contact with. Recently, we have seen a number of people giving their life to the Lord, including a whole group of youth from a remote homeland. There was also 40-50 people baptised in a river during a rally at another homeland.

I also do prison ministry at a local low security prison with nearly all Aboriginal men. It’s exciting to see some of them making decisions and God impacting them to transform their lives.

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