Church Planting Lessons from the First Fleet Part 6

Tim Flannery's collection of eye-witness accounts

Expect Providential Blessings
God both develops perseverance in us, perfecting our character and faith, but also surprises us with welcome provisions and comforts!

Being convinced of God’s sovereignty should never produce in us a fatalistic or stoic attitude. He can and does respond to our cries for relief, sometimes radically changing circumstances on our behalf.

At times His providential care for us can be seen in utterly unexpected ways.

Providence in a broken tooth!
I was struck by this when I read a strange but remarkable fact about Philip Arthur, first Governor of the Sydney settlement. It reminds us to trust God for amazing manifestations of providence.

In his book The Birth of Sydney’ (an edited collection of eye witness accounts of the earliest years of the settlement), Tim Flannery notes a peculiarity which may be of interest to those keen to establish cross-cultural relationships.

‘Young Cadigalean [Aborignal] men were initiated during a ceremony known as Yoo-lahng Erah-ba-daihng…held in Camerigal territory at Wallamola.

There the tribes would gather and, after days of ceremony, the highlight came when the initiates had an upper incisor knocked out with a stone.

The teeth were carefully kept by their Camerigal hosts, who returned them to the Cadigal at a ceremony some years later.

This practice of knocking out a front incisor, incidentally, was to have some significance for the Europeans, for Governor Phillip was lacking just such a tooth.

The Aborigines clearly viewed him as an important person, perhaps as an initiated elder who had returned from the dead. They called him Beeana – father.’ (Tim Flannery, The Birth of Sydney, Text Publishing, Melbourne, p.21)

God knows all things. He knows your need. He can help form bridges for us – we need to cross them, exercise sensitivity and wisdom – but He can give us unexpected help.

For the next installment in this story click here

For the first post in this series click here

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides


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