Chapter 1 Starting credit.
The Small Beginning
For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.
I was born on April 23, 1943, and then left at the hospital by my mother until she was forced to collect me, maybe up to a year later. In the world today and even in Christian societies, so many people are blaming their childhood for today’s situation in their lives. It is so easy to do this when society is saying the reason you’re where you’re at is because of what has happened to you as a child, and the Church has also taken this stance. It is time for us to look back and see how God’s hand was upon us in bringing us through a training period to make us more aware of His saving grace.
When my wife, Penny, and I look back, it is hard to believe so many years have passed, and we start to wonder where they have gone. We hear phrases like “fifty years ago,” and the scary thing is we can remember that far back and even farther!
As I look back over my life, it is amazing how God has been there with me and how He has been watching even before I knew of Him. My earliest recollection of the Lord would have been in a town hall in a little village called Tokoroa in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. This village later grew into a town of some twenty thousand people, but back then it had a garage and a butcher’s shop. There was also a grocer’s store, and that was about it—except like most places, Tokoroa had a hall where all the local functions took place, including church services.
I recall quite clearly, at the age of about four, the day we attended a church service (I later found out it was a Sunday school class) where the Minister was talking about Jesus and said that, when we died, we’d go to heaven. I listened very carefully to his talk and took in every word and thought about this very deeply. By the time I arrived home, I had made up my mind about this dying business. “I want nothing to do with Jesus and this dying thing, as I would miss Christmas,” I proclaimed to my mother. I am glad God has a heart for children; He must have had a big smile on His face at such simple thinking.
Chapter Two - Starting Work
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve”. [Colossians 3:23-24]
On the 11th of January 1959 I set off to the army camp in the middle of the North Island. I even had to look up on the map to see where I was going because in those days you did very little travel and saw very little of the country. The day to leave soon arrived and if I was going to kiss my girlfriend good-bye I guess I also had to kiss my mother good-bye, someone I had remembered kissing me only once as a child, and that was the most scary thing I had to do leaving home. Duty done I met up with two other young ‘men’ in Hamilton Army Recruitment Hall and off to catch the train about 8 o’clock at night. The train carriage was full of others like us, as we were among the last to board for the trip south, all going off on a big adventure - probably the equivalent to the big OE of today when you consider the amount of travel the average person did back then. Here was this young boy who could not talk to people thrown into a carriage with a lot of strangers, many of them smoking which I had not seen much of up to this time. I was heading into the dark interior of the country knowing or hoping it has to be better from where I had come from. This could be likened to going off into the mission field; you have left family and job and are going into the unknown trusting in the Lord and His word, praying you have heard Him right.
Chapter Three - Photo - That's me in front with big white pack.
Chapter Three - Army Life
“Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as servants of God”. [1 Peter 2:16]
Even in these wilderness times I can see now how the Lord kept His hand on my life. Graduation day did not come quickly enough and Auckland here I come! Freedom at last, every weekend free and with the biggest city in New Zealand on the doorstep, life would never be the same. However isn’t it amazing? When there is everything to do you cannot find it and soon become bored. I was a person who drank little so therefore was not invited to the big parties so again I found the visits I made to the Church very enjoyable. Yes, as I said I did believe in Jesus, I was just not reading His Word or once again wanting to get too involved, but again God kept me out of trouble. The biggest trouble of the time was having four on a motor scooter twice going to the local swimming pool at night, two nights in a row and getting caught twice and being let off with a warning both times. Then crashing through a local’s hedge on the same scooter with the owner and just riding on, while the owner of the property was looking out of his window at these two louts ripping up his front lawn. Yes, God is there for us always but sometimes we just are so ignorant of His presence. Many times in those early years I was heading for trouble and something would happen that would change the situation and I would be left wondering, why is it that every time I want to do something it does not happen? [Galatians 5:17] Now I understand, God was there and He stepped between the trouble and me, God was there, I just had to open my eyes and ears. Now I was 18 and the teenage years were quickly coming to an end and true adulthood was just around the corner.
One Sunday afternoon as I was standing on the steps of the Barracks, bored, with nothing to do, as you are when the biggest city in the country is at your doorstep, the Catholic Priest of the Camp was walking across the car park. He was a lovely man who had served as a soldier in the Second World War and on returning to New Zealand had given His life to Jesus and entered the Priesthood. I was watching him walk past some of our men working on a car, when an audible voice said to me, “One day you will be a minister of mine”. What else could you do but laugh and walk away and forget such a thing? Me, an 18 year old who was not walking with the Lord, or reading His Word or knew the first thing about His Kingdom. A person from such a background, this could not possibly be correct. However, God who knows all things from the beginning and the end, knew what was to come. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God…” [Deuteronomy 29:29a]
Needed a car to get church in Jerusalem
Our own transport
“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us”. [Psalm 123:2]
A few days later an Arab friend from church mentioned to me that the Pentecostal Church we attended, had a little car they did not use. When Penny and I prayed for something we told no one except the Father. You cannot be living by faith if you are telling every one of your needs; otherwise you are living by the generosity of others rather than the blessings of God. We had a pastor over there who was living by faith or so he said, and then told all of the congregation where the envelopes were for them to place the money in we felt led to give them. I do not think that is the way it works, all glory must go to God. Faith is hope for things unseen [Hebrews 11:1] and to live by faith is to do just that faith in the Lord, our one and true provider. We left New Zealand with a set amount of money, the amount we felt the Lord allowed us to have. From there on we relied totally on the Lord for our needs. At the Home we were given a free room and board and a small donation, which covered our toiletries. Anything else came from the Father, the one who has cattle on a thousand hills. [Psalm 50:10]
Chapter Nine Adventures in the Lord.
Chapter Nine Adventures in the Lord.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; John 10:27
What we were on was a great adventure with the greatest adventure guide ever, God Himself. But within this adventure there were small adventures because day-to-day things would come up that I was required to do and places to go. After we had been in Bethlehem a while I was very surprised to see how many of the people who had grown up in this Christian home were very strong Moslems. There was a half hour service every afternoon plus prayer in the mornings and the old ladies held Bible prayer times and yet many remained Moslem. The reason soon became apparent and sadly one of the main reasons was the man in charge of the home. In the words of one young blind man, we do not see in his office what he preaches at the Church service. This got so bad some of the young men refused to go to the service.
God is Love He is not only love but He is the source of love so if we do not love as He commanded are we truly followers of the one who is love?
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. [1 John 4:8]
On several occasions I felt challenged to question him on the way he treated people in general. He walked around with a great roll of money in his pocket making me think he had a private income over and above the Home. The private income as it turned out was the home and people gave large amounts of money and no receipts were given, he died some 12 years ago and a recent visit showed so many things have changed for the better. When it came time for getting money for medical bills or clothes for the children the Israelites had less trouble getting to the Promised Land. Things did improve in time with the constant pressure we placed on him to be a little more caring.
However back to these adventures, the children and men were sent home for all of the Moslem holidays, whether they wanted to or not. In fact on one occasion a young man who came to the Lord and I later Baptised in the Jordan, was told if he stayed at the home over the Moslem holiday they would not feed him, and true to their word they did not feed him. On another occasion after the life of my wife was put in danger and my life was threatened by a stone throwing man. I was told by a local Greek Orthodox man, once a Christian always a Christian and once a Moslem always a Moslem. He got an earful as under the circumstances I was in no mood to listen to such rubbish. Through this attitude of the local “Christians” it was easy to see why people grew up and stayed followers of Islam. I am reminded here of James 3:13 where it says that teachers will be judged the hardest.
On these so called holidays there was one boy who lived in a village near Jenin in the northern part of what is referred to by the world as the Westbank, not understanding it was called this by Jordan the occupying force from 1948 until 1967. On most occasions we were able to put him on a Taxi at the St. Johns Hospital in Northern Jerusalem. The taxis would bring people to the Hospital and of course take passengers back. However this was a very unreliable way of transport for this boy who was more of a slow learner rather than mentally handicapped. I had built up and trust in this boy who was about 12 years old, but he did have some mental problems because one night he went out on the road and threw a rock at a passing Jewish car and he must have hit it. The driver fearing for his life fired in the air and the speed of that boy running through the home that night would have won him a gold medal at the Olympics. I was so angry I just told him to stay away from me because I did not know what I would do. However he was expecting to be punished and kept pushing the boundaries over the following days until I said enough is enough, he was punished and we had no more trouble.
At every holiday break he would be the last leave and therefore have less time with his family. So I promised him the next time there was no taxi to take him home, I would. The holiday came and the manager gave me some money to take the boy to the taxi, in his car. But again there was no taxi to take him home so we returned to the home and I took the boy home and the adventure began, with 30 NIS the manager had given me.