MAD: An eye-opening adventure

By Deb Fox  |  Wycliffe Today Autumn 2024  

Wycliffe Australia runs MAD (Ministry, Adventure and Discovery) short-term trips that provide an opportunity to visit Indigenous Australian communities where Bible translation, Scripture engagement and gospel work is taking place. David and Lyn Wake, along with Lyn and the late Chester Street, have been bringing teams in a bus from Melbourne to a number of locations throughout Northern and Central Australia since the MAD trips began in 1998. They are always amazed by what God does to bring the teams together and reflect his heart for Indigenous communities to understand his Word in the languages they understand best.

This MAD trip was much like what I had heard from others who had done the trip before me. The first outcome for me was getting an in-depth understanding of the heart for reaching the Aboriginal communities with the good news of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the depth of relationship with fellow MADites, sharing with each other our journey of faith. I would certainly recommend this trip to others.


Many times I was out of my comfort zone. It was eye-opening entering the first Aboriginal community in the sort of environment that ordinarily I would not have entered. Team leader, David Wake, made contact with the local pastor and was sitting with him. I decided to reach out and join the gathering. What I discovered was a pastor with a real heart for his people and their welfare. I discovered the challenges of getting appropriate health care in such an isolated community. We were able to pray for the people of the community and share our spiritual journeys. It was a wonderful experience that I am glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of. I would have totally missed what God had in store for me if I had not been able to go.


A highlight for me was to visit parts of Australia where less than 0.001% of the population has ever been, such as Canteen Creek. I loved connecting with the people there. We live in pristine houses with manicured gardens, yet we don’t know who our neighbours are or what our heritage is beyond a few generations. In stark contrast, Aboriginal communities are all about relationships. It was great to experience how Bible translation is helping people understand who God is and allowing his Spirit to effect change in hearts. The trip changed my perspective from a cerebral discussion about communities far away to a heart-warming experience and a deeper empathy for my fellow Australians.


The 2024 MAD trip is designed for Chinese speakers to learn more about Bible translation taking place in Indigenous Australian communities. It is planned for 23 September – 5 October 2024. For more information, visit For enquiries about 2025 MAD trips, please contact

Photos: David Wake and Stewart Henderson

Indigenous Languages Quiz

Language ownership ‘fills up the soul’

By Kathy Dadd | Wycliffe Today October 2019

Matjarra is an Aboriginal translator passionate about translating the New Testament into her clan’s own Yolngu language – Liyagawumirr. She wants Scripture available in her own language because it is not always appropriate to use another clan’s language, especially at sacred events like funerals. Matjarra shares why this project is so important:  

English is not our first language. We have a lot of people who don’t know how to read the Bible or don’t understand it in an English context. When I became a Christian, I saw that need so I wanted to become a translator. This is for our new generation growing up, and for everyone in the community. We’re doing this Bible translating so they can read in our own language, so they can understand more about God. 

Another Aboriginal translator was checking the book of Mark when she experienced firsthand the transformative effect of God speaking through his word in her own language:

Yesterday, we read those words of the Bible in my language, and they filled up my soul. I wasn’t even hungry for any food for the rest of the day!

I used to think that if the Bible was available in a language that someone understands, then they had access to God’s Word – but it’s not quite that simple. In the Yolngu area in Arnhem Land, for example, there is a network of related languages. Although they are not all mutually intelligible, most people can speak the largest language. However, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use that language on all occasions. It’s not everyone’s language to use, it belongs to a particular clan. So even though the New Testament is available in the largest Yolngu language, that doesn’t mean everyone has full access to it.

Australian Indigenous Languages

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Thanks for your patience...

Waiting is hard, isn't it. But imagine waiting 2000 years for Scripture in your language! Thanks for your patience. And thanks for your generous support which will help bring the long wait to an end...