Changing the Heart of a Nation

BY: Brooke Prentis

I love a good lamington, a lamb chop on the barbie, and pavlova.  My Nan’s lamingtons were the best in the world and I put banana on a pavlova – controversial I know!  I also am always interested in what the annual lamb advertisement will be. 

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 on 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”

12 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 70 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 12 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, 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 the 2016 Census showed that 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 Christian Leaders from across Australia and participate in #ChangeTheHeart 2024.  Will you accept my invitation? 

Finding The Light 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.  As Aunty Jean would describe it, we want to “build a better Australia for all Australians.”

#ChangeTheHeart is a call to unite, all peoples of all cultures, across all generations, across all of Australia – to unite in prayer with Jesus, the light of the world.  So why not take a first step this year by loving your Aboriginal neighbour and accepting Aunty Jean’s invitation to pray and being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders.  We need each other.  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 together and embark on Finding The Light.  Perhaps then, in Australia, we will see the light of Jesus shining brighter than we ever have before.

With special thanks to Aunty Jean Phillips and GOOD.

Commit to #ChangeTheHeart at https://changetheheart.com.au

CHANGE THE HEART – Finding the Light now streaming on GOOD.

WATCH HERE: Watch Change the Heart – Finding the Light now. CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Brooke Prentis is an Aboriginal Christian Leader, Aboriginal & Education Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Company Director and Poet, with a vision to build an Australia built on Truth, Justice, Love and Hope.

For this year’s service #FindingTheLight we would love you to have an electric tea light candle or, if safe, a candle, or some other light, and a Desert Pea. What’s a Desert Pea you might ask? Well it is part of the Making Peas/ce Movement https://makingpeasce.com/ The Desert Pea is easy to make and only needs a few materials. Learn how to make a Desert Pea here https://makingpeasce.com/memorial-crafts The Desert Peas featured in the 2017 #ChangeTheHeart service in Canberra and now they go national. So please get ready for 25 January at 7:30pm AEDT with your light and your Desert Pea.

Like and Follow #ChangeTheHeart on social media:
Facebook @changtheheartpray
Instagram @change_the_heart
YouTube @ChangeTheHeartAU
X @change_theheart

Feature image: Phil Thompson