Bibles and backpackers in the Outback
By Deb Fox | Wycliffe Today Autumn 2022 |
David and Ming Fang Strickland live in Central Australia and work alongside Anmatyerr speakers to help them translate Scripture and engage with God’s Word. Last year, the Anmatyerr Mini Bible which they have been working on for 18 years was published with the help of The Bible Society and dedicated in four communities. Ming Fang says that the Mini Bible is incredibly important to the people:
The dedication made people feel like this is a new milestone for them. We have published Mark and John, the seven letters and Luke and Acts. When you put them all together in one book, people feel it is significant. We are very pleased seeing this publication come to life.
The Mini Bible dedication opened opportunities for Anmatyerr people to engage with Scripture. Ming Fang notes:
I have received requests from many women to start a Bible study. We already had Mark’s Gospel, John’s Gospel and seven letters in audio format and now we would like to add Luke’s Gospel and Acts so we will have the whole recording of the Mini Bible. We will have audio and digital versions to add to a website so that people can download. We want every Anmatyerr person to know the Bible is there for them to use.
Ming Fang also runs painting workshops for Anmatyerr women to read God’s Word and connect with it in a way and in a format that relates closely with their culture. However, it is not just the Anmatyerr people the Stricklands have been able to reach. A ‘backpackers ministry’ has been making an impact on visitors to Alice Springs, especially those from overseas when they were unable to travel home during worldwide lockdowns. Ming Fang says she started a Chinese Bible study in 2015, which then expanded to a much larger international group:
I just felt that I would like to talk to them and make them feel welcomed. We share testimonies, personal stories and a meal together then finish by worshipping in a number of different languages.
Now a team of young volunteers are working with Ming Fang. In 2020, the group set up emergency aid for backpackers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 lockdowns. With the help of local churches and businesses, over $18,000 was raised to provide vouchers and essentials for anyone in need. Ming Fang says the backpacker ministry numbers can go up and down but the people always leave changed:
Language and culture are living things. Just like people, language and culture are always changing. Every language and culture is unique but deep in the heart of each person, they need God. The unique challenges in the past two years have helped us spread seeds for the gospel here in Australia and (eventually) throughout the world.
- for safety as the Stricklands visit communities in Ti Tree, Mount Allen, Six Mile and other smaller communities
- for financial support to develop more resources that help Anmatyerr speakers connect with God and his Word.
For more information on supporting David and Ming Fang, go to
Photos by Gary McMaster