Len Roberts, foundational Pastor at Tea Gardens Baptist Church, grew up not knowing that he was Aboriginal.

Attending Sunday school at Blacktown Baptist, he can remember being cast as the “black” child in “Jesus Loves the Little Children” song, but he didn’t understand why. Later, in high school, his teacher told him that he was a “natural” at Indigenous dot painting, but it still didn’t click.

When he began working as a Home School Liaison Officer, one of the mothers was Indigenous and said to him “you’re Aboriginal”. Len asked how she knew, and she simply replied, “we know”. It was at this point that Len began to research his Indigenous heritage and sought to learn more about Aboriginal spirituality.

Many of us who are Aboriginal  often have misinformation on their history. Many people believe that Aboriginal people are  animists. And the Dreaming is their religion. But what they don’t know is that from time immemorial Aboriginal people have believed in Baiame (Creator God) and the evil one. They believe in the “in-between one” (Holy Spirit) and God’s Son. Aboriginal people knew God but had a greater fear of the evil one. The Gospel taught them not to be afraid.

“Aboriginal people were so ready for the Gospel because what was told to them, they knew to be true,” reflects Len.

Whilst being Aboriginal generally doesn’t affect how Len pastors, there have been times his Indigenous culture has been brough a helpful perspective. For example, it has affected how the church makes decisions. “For Aboriginal people storytelling is how we converse,” explains Len, “decisions are made through yarning and chatting”. Tea Gardens Baptist has adopted this approach, believing in consensus and reaching agreement. Len recounts a time that everyone in the church was happy with a decision, except for one church member who was really upset about it. So, they went away and prayed about it, and when they came back together “the ninety-nine agreed with the one”.

Reflecting on his faith journey, Len sees that he grew up under many good mentors and disciple makers, and “sat under the bible teaching of some of the great teachers of our denomination”. For them, it didn’t matter what nationality you were, everyone is valuable in the church and the Kingdom of God.

“One of the greatest things I’ve learnt through my life is we’re one and we’re all”.

During the Voice referendum period a national newspaper asked Len for his views on the voice process. This is what he wrote.

By Len Roberts

Out on the Darling, where city dwellers are few,
The looking tree helps one form a view.
While the heart says yes and the mind says no,
The voice referendum, is it the way to go?
Is this the last chance to get it right,
Or is there further opportunity to find the light?
My friends, my family and churchgoers all, ask me What should I do,
for we are wanting to move forward with you.
My friend, I say thank you for seeking my advice.
To be consulted is respectfully nice.
And is this not, what the discussion is all about,
To acknowledge accept and not to shout.
It doesn’t matter if you vote one way or the other,
For you will still be my sister or brother.
You see, the question we all need to ask,
The helping of Aboriginal people, is it not the task?
For they were here when the first boat people came,
And described by Phillip in giving Manly its name.


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