CHRISTIAN LIVING | Sophie Gyles
Growing up away from her Aboriginal father, 20-year-old Bobbie Hopkins never really identified with Indigenous culture, wanting to remove herself from her Dad’s family and just ‘fit in’.
“I always prayed, ‘God, why am I Aboriginal? I’m never going to be an Aboriginal, why the heck did you make me one? This is a mistake.’”
Despite this, she could sense there was something missing in her life. When she became a Christian at 13 she expected this feeling to ease, but it never did. “You know when you leave the house and you have a feeling you’re forgetting something? That’s pretty much what I’ve felt like my whole life.”It wasn’t until she signed up for a Diploma in Youth Work with Scripture Union Queensland that she really started looking into her Aboriginal ancestry.
One day at college, Aboriginal pastor Billy Williams (‘Uncle Billy’) spoke to the class about identity and crossing cultures. Bobbie said it felt like he was talking just to her.
“I was just sitting there and I was thinking, how are you explaining my life – the tension between my white culture and my black culture?”
Uncle Billy pulled her aside after the talk and asked her where she was from. She explained she didn’t really know. He shared his own story of discovering his Aboriginal family and encouraged her to keep searching and invited her to his church, Dhiyaan.
“God came to me like a gentle wind saying, you need to work this out. I realised, I’m an Aboriginal and I don’t know this.”
She started going along to Billy’s church and asking her father more about their family history. She discovered her Grandfather came from Kunnumulla, in west Queensland, while others in her family were south-sea islanders who moved to Australia to work the fields.
As Bobbie looked into her family history, she grew closer to her Dad, to the point where she felt comfortable inviting him to Billy’s church. He’s now a regular member of Queensland’s Murri Church.
Bobbie says slowly, God’s been revealing who she really is. “It’s only in the last year I figured out God doesn’t make mistakes. We are who we are meant to be.”
“I remember the moment I thanked God for the first time for making me Aboriginal. That was such a surrender.”
“Now everything’s changed. I no longer look at myself and hate myself. I look at myself and think, this is who you made me, Lord.”
Bobbie has spent the last week in Melbourne with the Grasstree Gathering of young Indigenous leaders and helped lead worship at the Surrender Conference. Her assessment? “It was deadly. I loved it. These are my people and I didn’t even know it.”