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Culture, cars and Christianity: Indigenous pastor's unconventional expression of faith

An Indigenous man stands in front of a large portrait of a lion, showing a tattoo on his arm that reads 'Christ'.
Pastor Andrew Adidi's home is filled with religious symbols and he wears his Christianity, quite literally, on his sleeve.

ABC Far North: Mark Rigby

Pastor Andrew Adidi does not look like a conventional preacher of Christianity — mostly because he is not conventional.

The 36-year-old minister was once part of the Queensland Reds training squad, and while he continues to play rugby union, his devotion to the sport comes a distant second to his love of the Christian faith.

It was during his time in Brisbane, while training with the Reds, that Pastor Adidi realised his calling.

"I grew up as a Christian, with my mum dragging me to church every Sunday," he laughed.

He said his cultural heritage gave him an intrinsic sense of spirituality, and when that was coupled with his upbringing and life experiences, the decision to reacquaint himself with Christianity was all but made for him.

"Torres Strait islanders are very spiritual people," Pastor Adidi said.

"It wasn't hard to make the transition from where I was to becoming a Christian and believing in God."

Preaching in 21st century

Religious symbolism adorns almost every wall of Pastor Adidi's suburban home, but it is in his driveway where his 21st century approach to preaching is most evident.

Two sedans that would not look out of place on Mount Panorama sit side-by-side.

Decal stickers run the length of one car reading 'Fear God', while the other has the word 'Precha' emblazoned across the rear window.

An Indigenous pastor poses next to his vehicle which has the word 'Fear God' written in large letters on the side.
Pastor Andrew Adidi drives his "mobile billboard" emblazoned with the words 'Fear God' around the streets of Cairns.

ABC Far North: Mark Rigby

"Fear God is a message, not for people who aren't in church, but for people who are in church," Pastor Adidi said.

"A lot of people were playing around in church so the message was to Christians to fear God in reverence, not in the way you would fear a dog."

Having returned to the Christian faith as an adult, Pastor Adidi said he was well aware of public perceptions of the church and the issues that caused them.

"It's very important for youth today that we know where they've come from and what lifestyle they've grown up through before we start talking."

He said "bible bashing" and forcing religion down peoples' throats had no place in his approach.

"I don't get in peoples' faces and talk about God; I just find a common ground and we start from there," he said.

No signs of seven-year itch

A little more than seven years into his career, Pastor Adidi said he had never been happier.

"It's better to do the work that you love, than doing the work that you don't, and I love being a pastor," he said.

An Indigenous man studies the pages of a bible in a book holder on top of a bookcase.
Pastor Andrew Adidi studies the pages of a bible from the Solomon Islands.

ABC Far North: Mark Rigby

"It brings me closer to people, it makes me show more love for people and it lets me help people in need.

"Whether it be marriage counselling or helping someone who's nearly committed suicide, just being that person in that gap that can help people.

"Jesus wasn't walking around as a king giving commands to everybody. He was just a servant helping people and that's what I want to do for the community."