Safina Stewart’s Indigenous heritage comes from Wuthathi Country (in Far North Queensland) and Mabuiag Island (in the Torres Strait) and her non-Indigenous heritage comes from Scotland. She currently lives in Wonthaggi, Victoria. While she holds Bachelor of Education, Safina identifies as a contemporary Indigenous faith artist who uses her art to connect stories across cultures in ways that ask her audiences to consider the “Other”. Safina’s art employs symbolism and vibrant colours to carry stories from her personal life, her faith journey, or testimony of those who have gone before. Safina invites Christians in the mainstream church to open their hearts to an Ancient God who has created and called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be Royal Children. This healing work goes beyond western cultural perceptions.
Safina believes that Indigenous Christian communities hold this precious gift of spiritual knowledge and that this knowledge is desperately needed to be rediscovered in mainline Christian communities. Safina works cross-culturally so that non-Indigenous peoples may grow in their own spiritual understanding through friendship, relationship, and in community with Indigenous peoples, creating the avenue for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to truly walk together.
Safina also has the gift of encouragement and welcoming as she works with Indigenous teenagers to mentor and raise them up to know their identity and sense of belonging. Safina remembers how, when she was in her early 20s, Aunty Jean Phillips would always say to her “We need you bub, we need you to stir people up!” Safina credits Aunty Jean as she taught her what resilience looks like, and she has been encouraged by Aunty Jean’s love for her people, for justice, and the Christian church. In dreaming about her ministry, Safina wants to continue to encourage the young ones and also the work of faith artists that are in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to speak truth and share their voice because “Australia is
crying out for it.”
Safina has attended all three Grasstree Gatherings. She looks forward to this year’s gathering because “it is so uplifting and encouraging to be in the company of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians. I love that we dream together, remember together, share together, learn together, and worship in our own way together. We remind each other that we are not alone in this journey and to walk strong in our faith, communities for healing, justice through God’s powerful love.”