Can we change the heart of this nation?

BY: Brooke Prentis

I love a good lamington, a lamb chop on the barbie, and pavlova.  I say delightedly, but probably controversially – my Nan’s lamingtons were the best in the world and… I put banana on a pavlova!  I also did like this year’s annual lamb ad. 

These are often discussions we are having as we approach the 26th of January.  I’ve just shared with you some of my favourite foods, and some of the discussions I’ve had in the last week.  I also share with you that I’m Aboriginal.  I am a Wakka Wakka woman and I’m a Christian – an Aboriginal Christian Leader in fact.  At this time of year, it often isn’t easy as an Aboriginal person, because other discussions also take place.  Often these discussions can be hurtful as we are excluded from the conversation or we become invisible.  I’ve had these discussions as well.  I believe in Jesus and read the Bible.  Jesus, who commands me, and you, to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Sometimes though it feels that people exclude loving their Aboriginal neighbour from Jesus commandment.  What would it mean to ensure your conversations this week centred loving your Aboriginal neighbour?  I wonder if it would change the topic or introduce a new topic.  I wonder if it would change your approach. 

“Let’s pray”

11 years ago, some non-Indigenous Christians, including some church ministers were wrestling with these discussions and questions.  They came to Senior Aboriginal Christian Leader, Aunty Jean Phillips, who has dedicated over 65 years of her life to Christian ministry, and asked Aunty Jean what to do.  Aunty Jean said, “Let’s pray”.  From a small gathering of about 7 non-Indigenous Christians with Aunty Jean 11 years ago, there are now tens of thousands of people coming together on the evening before January 26 to pray and to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders.  It’s called #ChangeTheHeart.  Often when conversations happen about or involving Aboriginal peoples the conversations come from peoples heads – but what would happen if they came from our hearts, hence the name and movement #ChangeTheHeart.  #ChangeTheHeart is broadcast nationally with GOOD and simulcast with our radio partners, on January 25 at 7:30pm AEDT – and everyone is invited. 

An Invitation

I wonder if you have ever met an Aboriginal Christian Leader?  I wonder if you know that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are Christian.  According to the 2016 Census, 54% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identified as Christians.  I wonder if you know that in Aboriginal cultures that hospitality and generosity are two of our core cultural values and expressed through what our Elders teach us as being in right relationship – what the Bible teaches us as to love your neighbour as yourself.  So I express my generosity and hospitality to you by inviting you to meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia and participate in #ChangeTheHeart 2023.  Will you accept my invitation? 

In Rhythm with Jesus

I’ve shared with you part of my story, the discussions I’m having, and my faith.  Now I share my dream.  I dream of an Australia built on truth, justice, love, and hope.  It’s a dream I’ve had since I was 6 years old and it’s a prayer I pray everyday.  It’s an Australia I want us to build together.  So why not take a first step this year by loving your Aboriginal neighbour and by joining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders as together we pray, ‘Jesus, we pray to #ChangeTheHeart of Australia.  Grab that lamington, lamb chop, or piece of pavlova (with or without banana) on the evening of the 25th of January, settle in on your couch, and join Christians across these lands now called Australia for a unique moment as we join #InRhythm with Jesus.  

With special thanks to Aunty Jean Phillips, GOOD and our radio partners.

Get an order of service and commit to #ChangeTheHeart at https://changetheheart.com.au


Like and Follow #ChangeTheHeart on social media:

Facebook @changtheheartpray

Instagram @change_the_heart

Twitter @change_theheart

Feature image: Phil Thomson Photography

About the Author: Brooke Prentis is an Aboriginal Christian Leader and Company Director with a vision to build an Australia built on Truth, Justice, Love and Hope. Visit her website HERE