Australian Aboriginal Revival from 1979

1979 Elcho Island Revival (Australia)

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Australian Aboriginal Revival from 1979

See Pentecost in Arnhem Land, Australia, by Djiniyini Gondarra

Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival:

This revival occurred mainly among the Aboriginal people living in the north and west areas of Australia. The revival continued into the 1990s and beyond as Aboriginal teams would travel from place to place throughout the nation conducting meetings.

Pastor Djiniyini Gondarra
of Galiwini’ku Church

Challenges Among the Aboriginals
The Galiwin’ku church on Elcho Island in 1979 was experiencing many challenges.
► There was persecution.
► Many people left the church and were speaking against it, wanting to shut it down.
► The government was bringing money and other things into the community, causing material possessions to capture the people’s attention (cars, televisions, boats, nicer homes, etc.).
► Alcohol was a major problem, leading to many fights, domestic violence, and deaths.
► Vandalism was common.
► Polygamy was part of the culture.
► Young people were sniffing fuel and drinking a mixture of acetone and methylated spirits.
► Entire communities were in confusion and had no direction.
► Satan had his hand on everything.

In the 1960s there were some very powerful revivals that had caught the attention of the world. These included:
 1960 Charismatic Movement
► 1965 Timor Revival (occurring in a relatively short distance to the northwest of Australia)
 1967 Catholic Charismatic Renewal
► 1967 Jesus Movement

With this news, missionaries on Elcho Island and beyond began to experience this reviving influence, and the experiences transferred to Aboriginal people in the Galiwin’ku church.
► Miracles began to occur in the local clinic as the workers prayed for healing.
► Demonic powers were broken as the people came into contact with teachings from Derek Prince and others like him.

Beginning in the Uniting Church (denomination), the revival spread throughout Australia among the Aboriginal peoples. With its Pentecostal features, it caused much concern among the conservative missionaries that were associated with the Uniting Church.

Northern part of Australia

Planning of Special Meetings
To help the Galiwin’ku church take steps forward, after August of 1978 the leaders of the church asked the Pentecostal evangelist Dan Armstrong, of Sydney, Australia, to come and conduct a series of meetings, which were to be held in May the following year.

Extraordinary Prayer
Two Decades of Revival Praying: A small Aboriginal community of about 30 adults with their children, living in the far northern end of Elcho Island, for 20 years had been praying daily for revival in Australia and the world. They met for prayer every morning, during the day, and again each evening.

Prayer in Preparation for the Dan Armstrong Meetings: About six months prior to the meetings that Dan Armstrong was scheduled to hold at the Galiwin’ku church in 1979, prayer groups of 4 people or less were set up throughout the community in preparation for the meetings. Some of them met 3 times per week, some of them met every day at lunch, as well as after church services on Sundays.

Prayer Meeting

Immediate Changes Were Witnessed
The enhanced time commitment to prayer was immediately responded to by the Lord, as He placed in His people a hunger for the Word of God.

The desire to fellowship also grew, so much so, that the church could no longer contain the people, so they began to meet on the basketball court.

A “spirit of love” began to flow between the members of the church.

Services had to be held outside the church building

Offensively Confronting Demonic Powers
Demonic powers recognized what was occurring and they began immediately attacking the leaders with various types of sicknesses. As concentrated prayers were made, praying in homes where demonic manifestations were occurring, the powers of Satan were broken, and things really began to change.

On March 13, 1979, an aboriginal man named Wirriyi, had a dream of a fire on Elcho Island. In the dream he saw a fire coming down from the northern end of the island and traveling along its length, burning up everything on the island.

He saw the fire coming towards himself and he wanted to run away and jump into the ocean to escape the flames, but he heard a voice speaking to him from out of the fire:

That fire is the life of Yolngu [Aborigines]. That is for the end, for the future. If the Yolngu live like that fire – if your life is like the fire, burnt up – then, after it grows new life, it will be really good.

In the dream the fire burned the entire body of Wirriyi so completely that he became nothing but ashes. After the fire passed, the ashes of everything that was burned turned into new plants that were fully grown with fruit on them. At one moment Wirriyi was burned up, and then the next he was fully alive. The fire was the word of God.

The Revival Starts
Following that dream, the very next day, March 14, 1979, which many say was the start of the Elcho Island Revival, the fire in Wirriyi’s dream was ignited.

Pastor Djiniyini Gondarra, of the Elcho Church in the town of Galiwin’ku, had been on vacation for 4 weeks, and when he came back, having had a long day traveling, with three connecting flights, he was ready for rest.

Upon his arrival at the airstrip there was a large welcoming party that wanted to greet him. Because God had been doing so many things while he had been away, they wanted to tell him about them with a meeting at his home that night.

After the evening dinner, they held hands and began to pray.

Suddenly, we began to feel God’s Spirit moving in our hearts and the whole form of prayer life suddenly changed and everybody began to pray in the Spirit and in harmony.

One elder said:

That was the first time I felt like I was floating.

Some of the people said that God was visiting them to establish His kingdom on earth, breaking free those who had been for so long in bondage to Satan.

On that same evening the word of what God was doing spread like flames of fire and reached the whole community. Djiniyini explained what happened beginning on the next morning:

The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad.

Open-air meeting

Singing on the Beach
Toward the end of March 1979, Djiniyini assembled the choir on the beach to practice for the Sunday service. With 15 people present, it turned into a very powerful time of worship which they had never experienced before, and it continued from 7 p.m. till midnight.

From that night on, this worship on the beach was held every night, and the numbers grew so rapidly, that by the end of April there were 150 to 200 people meeting every night of the week for 4-5 hours.

As people would pray for lost family members or others, the people prayed for would frequently turn to Christ within a few days.

Many had visions during this time.
► Some saw fireballs coming down from the sky.
► Some saw the church on fire.
► Some saw flames of fire resting on the heads of the people (Acts 2:3).

Dan Armstrong, Gelung & Djiniyini Gondarra

The Crow and the Dove
It was around April 1979, that the pastor of the Galiwin’ku church (Djiniyini) had his Bible attacked by a crow, tearing it to pieces. This was very meaningful for them, because the crow was associated with the totem for their clan. That night and the following day, Djiniyini and his wife, Gelung, were very disturbed. It led to prayer with a group of others, cleansing their home and property of all unclean spirits.

During the following days the crow would come to their home and would peck on their door. When they would open the door, the crow would fly away, and as it flew away another bird came, a white dove, chasing it and fighting with it as they were flying away together.

Dan Armstrong

Dan & Sue Armstrong Meetings
On Saturday evening, May 1, 1979, the small aircraft carrying Dan Armstrong and his team landed at the Galiwin’ku airstrip, where they were greeted by a group of young men running alongside the plane as it taxied to a stop. There was tremendous anticipation among the people, as they had been praying for this event for 6 months.

The night of their arrival was to be a time for the main leaders and those involved in the preparation for the meetings to meet and become acquainted with the Armstrong team. A feast was planned to be held on the beach for this fellowship time.

As they were sitting on the beach singing songs, people began coming out of the dark, and one by one they came close to the group, kneeling and weeping. Hands were laid on these people, and following prayer, many were slain in the Holy Spirit. For several hours this praising and prayer continued.

Following the first night, word spread throughout Elcho Island and hundreds began coming to the meetings. Never having been exposed to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they were amazed when the manifestations of the Spirit of God began to occur.
► Conviction of sin was very pronounced, as one of the most sin-hardened men in the community came forward, kneeled, and cried like a baby. This man was born again and became a health worker.
► Repentance of some of the most prideful and hardened people
► Deliverance from demonization
► Speaking in tongues
► Joy of the Lord: with laughter and giggling
► Prostrations (slain in the Spirit)
► Crying
► Overwhelming peace
► Healings

Open-air meeting

The News Spread
As word of what God was doing spread, and reached neighboring islands and towns, people began coming from those distant locations, and the numbers grew every night.

Daily Bible Studies
Not willing to leave the people to experience emotions without grounding them in the Word of God, they had Bible studies every day to ensure the revival had biblical roots. As the days went on, these daily Bible studies also grew in the number of attendees.


Ministry of Deliverance
As historic revivals are read and studied, it is often found that they were preceded by offensive attacks against the powers of darkness—specifically using the ministry of deliverance.  Many of these revival accounts have been rewritten, intentionally omitting those occurrences. But if one looks deeply enough, it will be found that demonic manifestations were often seen and dealt with, prior to or during the revival itself. And this wasn’t only in jungles or among the “heathen”; it also occurred in revivals taking place in Europe and North America in the 1990s and later.

The ministry of deliverance was utilized during this revival as well, and it was what turned the page and opened the door for the power of God to flow.

Discerning of Spirits
The Holy Spirit identified several strong spirits affecting the area and He directed the people to renounce those spirits as they prayed. The main spirits were pride and unbelief. After those spirits were renounced, there was a tangible change in the atmosphere.
► The gift of discernment became profound, enabling believers to recognize what spirit was at work. When these spirits were called out and commanded to leave, there were immediate changes that were recognized in the people of the community.
► The aboriginal ancestral belief in god was shown in reality to be an antichrist spirit. When that spirit was exposed and rebuked, the fire of the Gospel spread even more intensely.

During the Dan Armstrong meetings, the manifestations of demonic powers were pronounced:
► As people were set free from demonization, the shackles holding back revival were no longer in place.
► Demonic manifestations came whenever the services started.
► Dogs throughout the town would begin howling and fighting. The dogs would even come into the center of the open-air meeting area and begin fighting among themselves.
► Demons would begin to manifest through people (like in the Bible).
► Those with serious mental illnesses became much worse and would throw stones at the people during services, giving evidence that the mental illnesses were misdiagnosed, and these were really cases of demonization.

Meeting at the Ceremonial Grounds
The church scheduled a special meeting with Dan Armstrong to be conducted at the ceremonial grounds, where demonic activity was known to be very strong.

Before they got there, the entire team began to experience severe stomach cramps. Even though they were feeling sick, they went anyways, walking into that area singing the song, “In the Name of Jesus.”

Many strange manifestations began occurring with those who were demonized at this time (plus the howling, barking, and fighting of the dogs). But the Holy Spirit came and cleansed the area. Following this, many lukewarm Christians were revived, and many others came to Christ.

Some of the locations where the revival spread

Vision During Men’s Gathering
There was a special prayer gathering of about 50 men, and during their time together, a passage from the Bible was read—1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Following that, the men began to cheer, shout, leap, and run around, saying:

God choose us!

Some heard angels singing.

A unifying feature of the Holy Spirit manifested itself, as the men began singing in tongues, uniting them all together as one.

An older man then shared a vision:

I saw all of us have a stick in our hand. We put the stick in the fire and the end of the stick was ignited. We all then began running, and wherever we ran, we were able to start fires.

Following the Dan Armstrong meetings, these men formed teams, and wherever these teams went, the revival fires would spread to all of those locations.

Though this church numbered about 200, filled with relatively poor people, they paid their own ways and travelled by boat, plane, or bus, to the entire region, and throughout Australia, spreading the revival’s fire.

Open-air meeting

The Revival Continued
By the end of 1979 the Elcho Islanders received numerous invitations from many parts of Australia to come and conduct or participate in meetings. Beginning in mid-1979, those ministry trips began, and they continued into the 1990s and beyond, igniting revival fires wherever they went. That ongoing story can be read in John Blacket’s book: Fire in the Outback.

Results of the Revival
► During the 6 weeks prior to Dan Armstrong’s arrival at Elcho Island, 200 adults had committed their lives to Christ.
► During the Armstrong meetings, another 200 made that commitment.
► During a short period of time after Armstrong left, another 50 converted to Christ.
► It wasn’t only Aboriginals that were being saved; it was also whites who made commitments to Christ.
► This was a total of at least 450 new Christians out of a total of around 1,200 living on the island, and this was in only 4 months.
► Marriages were restored.
► There was a love for everyone, and not just for those within their own tribes.
► The community was clean, as people disposed of their trash appropriately and began planting gardens.
► Alcohol use dropped.
► Gambling became almost non-existent.
► Relationships were healed.
► Marriages were reconciled and healed.
► Divisions in the culture began to be healed.
► People were happy.
► People in the community were singing, not just at night, but also during the day in their homes and along the streets.
► Just hearing the stories of what was happening in one place sparked the revival in the location where it was told.
► The health center reported far fewer than normal sicknesses. This was caused by
• Elders praying for the sick, resulting in healings.
• Reduction in substance abuse.
• Inner healing of the mind by the Holy Spirit producing physical healing to the bodies.

Djijiyini Gondarra

► Arnhem Land Witnesses Controversial Revival by Anne Lim
► Dianne Ethelle Buchanan, Christian Pioneer by Mark the Evangelist
► Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia by Sue Tinworth
► Fire in the Outback by John Blacket
► Fire in the Outback by John Blacket (free Ebook)
► God’s Firestorm by
► Local Revivals in Australia by Stuart Piggin
► Transformation – Revival – God’s Wild Firestorm & Indigenous Tears by John Blacket
► Pentecost in Arnhem Land by Djiniyini Gondarra

► Free downloads from Christian History Research
► God’s Firestorm 1 – Elcho Island: by John Blacket
► God’s Firestorm 2 by John Blacket
► Twelve Free Videos: by Khesed

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Share good news  –  Share this and any page freely. Over 100,000 views of blogs annually.
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Australian Aboriginal Revival from 1979

See Pentecost in Arnhem Land, Australia, by Djiniyini Gondarra

Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival:

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