The very word “evangelist” evokes the picture of a white man. But for most of Australia’s modern history, they’ve been black and white. Even in the early days of Maloga, many Aboriginals chose to become teachers of the Gospel of Jesus, sent out with full authority to spread the good news. In the Normal Collection at the State Library of South Australia, you can find a rather formal photograph of a collection of such men.
It was a 20th Century phenomena too. And Aboriginal leaders wanted to see more evangelists – black and white – reaching out to their people.
Shockingly, Shadrach Livingstone James say that what Aborigines need is Missionaries. Here are the exact words from The Horsham Times, Friday 2 April 1937, page 2:
Aboriginals Not Doomed to Extinction.
Mr. Shadrach L. James in an article in the “Australian Christian,” states that he desires to correct the general belief that the days of the Australian aboriginal are numbered. In an appeal on behalf of his people. he says that our people are not doomed to extinction. They yet may be saved. Let the authorities secure the needed legisla tion for their protection, betterment and preservation, and undertake the work of caring for them, not as heretofore with the conviction that they are a dying race, but with confidence thatthe remnant can be saved. Mr. James stated : I wish to offer some constructive ideas that may be of some help to our people. Our failures in the past have not been for want of ambition, but for lack of opportunities, wrong administration. lack of conifidence and insufficient interest, as well as financial disabilities. More missionaries are needed to the aborigines. We value the efforts of these godly people, and their influence does more good to help our people than any other institution organised for the protection of the native race. Education should be a chief concern of those interested in us. We need better facilities for learning. Teachers should be classified for the posi tion amongst them, and education should be made compulsory. Reading. writing, arithmetic and other suitable subjects should be taught. Technical education should be given, and suitable libraries provided to foster the love of reading. For the moral and spiritual care or my people I advise the appointment of itinerant white and aboriginal evangelists, who shall visit the aboriginals who are not connected with mission stations.”
Mr. W. B. Payne. of Echuca, an engine driver on the Victorian Railways, has done mission work in his sparetime with the aborigines of Cummera gunga, the home of Mr. James. A privilege will be given Horsham and dis- trict this month of hearing the Cummeragunga Choir in the Town Hall under the supervision of Mr. Payne, when a novelty concert will be given.