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The Student Teacher

Although there are CMS partnerships all around the world, we have a special commitment to our brothers and sisters in North Australia. James Woods, an indigenous man training for Christian leadership, is interviewed here by CMS missionary Wayne Oldfield.

Wayne: Barnga (cousin) thanks for coming in. It’s a Sunday afternoon in the office on a beautiful sunny day in Darwin and we’re here to talk about your partnership with CMS and myself here. James you’re here as a teacher at Nungalinya College.[1] What have you been teaching?

James: I teach alongside other teachers here at Nungalinya. At the moment I’m teaching ‘Using the Bible’, ‘Living Well’, ‘Good Living’, and ‘Telling God’s Story’. I also teach Kriol with Liz our language expert.

W: Your work certainly keeps you busy! How does what you’re teaching at Nungalinya College help people in the community?

J: I observe the teaching sessions and let the teachers know when the students aren’t quite getting what is being taught. At the end of the class we have a feedback session where I let the teachers know when there are students who are struggling or having difficulty hearing or seeing.

I also tell stories to the students to help them understand what the teachers and I are teaching. Because many students come from [a remote] community, they know how we organise and run fellowship at home. I help them understand and apply the knowledge from the community to what we are learning.

W: How are you being helped, here at college?

J: Helping in the class is helping me to have more faith in Jesus as a Christian, as a leader, and it has encouraged me to lead a fellowship at home. I can teach the work that God has called me to, whether it is back in my community Urapunga, or in Darwin, or any other community.

The teaching is what encourages me more and more and more. It is deepening my faith.

W: James, how do you want CMS supporters to be praying for you, and how would you like them to care for you, now that you’re here in Darwin?

J: In 2016 our Bishop Greg Anderson took me and two other men to the CMS Summer School in Queensland and NSW. There we met the whole CMS people and they would come and ask us questions and we shared conversations and I was really encouraged. I could see that all this came from the hard work of a bigger family in Christ, and a church that’s so rich with so many people. It was so lovely to be in that conference.

I would like them to pray for me and my wife Miriam, for the strength to continue to teach and work in the Diocese—that they would all be encouraged in the Lord. I would like them to pray for our kids, that they would be encouraged by our example to come to church more and get to know Jesus better.

And lastly, I would like them to pray for the church leaders back home in Urapunga, that they would be given strength to continue to lead the church well while I am here in Darwin.

W: And they [the church leaders] are continuing to learn at Nungalinya College in Cert 4 and they’re being trained up well.

J: Yes. And I think the more prayers that people pray, the more strength they will have.


Thank God for the way he has trained and used Aboriginal Christian leaders over many years, and pray for James and his family, that they would be strengthened by God for their work at Nungalinya and in the Diocese.


The Autumn 2016 edition of Checkpoint, ‘Our brothers and sisters’ focused on work amongst Aboriginal people.

[1] Nungalinya is a Combined Churches Training College for Aboriginal Australians, accredited by the government’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) Scheme.