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Review: Yulki—Our Aboriginal Sister

Yulki – Our Aboriginal Sister, Phyllis Mercer; Self-published, 2011

In 1952, prompted by a severe drought, a team from Roper River Mission (now Ngukurr) founded a new CMS settlement at Numbulwar to provide a permanent home for the nomadic Nunggubuyu people – including a young woman named Yulki. A year later, the Numbulwar superintendent, John Mercer, returned from leave with his new bride, Phyllis. She and Yulki (herself newly married to Gurragi Nunggumajbarr) would become firm friends, and though the Mercers moved to Groote Eylandt in 1959 their paths would intersect many times over the years. This book is Phyllis’s account of Numbulwar’s history, and of the many faithful CMS workers who have played a part in it—from pioneers like Len and Dick Harris to current Numbulwar missionary Ruth Brigden. But at its heart, this is the story of Yulki, a great leader of her people, whose faithful service and deep devotion to God’s word stood out from the mission’s earliest days. She was ordained an Anglican deacon in 2005 and priest in 2009, and, in the tradition of great Indigenous missionaries like James Japanma, became a missionary herself to the struggling churches of Groote Eylandt.  Phyllis Mercer’s book provides an opportunity to deepen our understanding of this remarkable servant of the Lord Jesus.