I appreciate very much the unexpected opportunity my father gave me at 13, to attend a Technical Highschool for 4 years. Although this meant boarding 100 km away from home in Hobart. The basic training gained in practical skills then, has proved a blessing throughout the rest of my working life.
Having set my sights on heaven at Jesus’ return, I enrolled at the Australasian Missonary College at Cooranbon in New South Wales, to pursue a 3 year theological Course, aspiring to be a minister, so that I could more ably share my faith with others.
All through 1950, three times daily, I sat at the same meal table in the large College dining room with a sweet young lady named Rose Anderson who 4 years later became my loving, faithful wife.
1956 was a crisis year in my life, while actively working in association with an evangelistic team in Auckland, and pastoring a suburban church, my dogmatic faith in SDA doctrine was challenged and rocked. Through an intensive study of the book of Hebrews, the clear light of the glorious finished work of Christ on the cross and in His resurrection came into focus. The atonement was completed, in triumph and He sat down at the right hand of God as our mediator and great high Priest, after the order of Melchizidek.
He fulfilled perfectly all the Old Testament types and shadows. There was nothing left undone, yet to be undertaken in 1844, as I had believed until that time, the keystone in the arch of the Seventh Day Adventist, came loose, and for a time the whole edifice seemed to crumble around me. I was dismissed from the vocation I was qualified to peruse and on the boat back to Tasmania. Quite wonderfully a door opened in Hobart for me to work as a school teacher so that I was able to provide for our little family’s needs.
For the next 16 years, I wandered as it were, in the wilderness, without a real spiritual home, to replace that sense of belonging, we had experienced in the first 24 years of our spiritual pilgrimage. There were some oasis along the way. Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade College where we refreshed for a time was one. Sheryl-Joy was born there in 1958. In Auckland in 1968, while worshipping with the Baptists, God caused me to hunger and thirst as never before, for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which I came to see was part of my spiritual heritage as a son of God. Contact with the Charismatic movement at that time helped me to rise up in faith, and lay hold of God’s rich promise, what joy and blessing flooded my soul, as I partook of the living water, and the Holy Spirit took over my tongue and gave me a fresh pure language, that I might worship God in spirit and in truth as He desired. That was 45 years ago, and it is still a continuing joy, token my mind is not fully occupied with thinking things out, to lapse into praying in the Spirit.
In the middle of the 12th month 1972, we received a welcome, but unexpected letter from our friend Enoch, who had been in close association with us in Auckland for a time. He was writing from Rangiora, in the South Island, telling us of the live Christian Community he had found fellowship with there; how they were willing to do everything the New Testament taught. He invited us to have a look for ourselves. God used this letter, to direct our steps southward for a brief visit.
We arrived on a Sunday at Christchurch airport. Hopeful met us, and we were hurried off by van to Springbank, where the Church was having a camp time – straight into a morning meeting. I cannot remember what was shared, but for the first time in 16 years, I felt at home, one in heart and mind with these dear brothers and sisters we have never seen before. As Hopeful talked to us that afternoon, I was deeply challenged to take a step of faith in the direction of trusting God, to give us the children He wanted us to have, instead of sinfully using birth control as we had done for the first 19 years of our married life, to have our 4 children, when we wanted them.
I was strongly exercised in prayer, early one morning while praying for guidance, down by Cust creek. The thought came so clearly that I should come down from Auckland to Rangiora, and submit myself to the men in the Church there in all things, and God would bring me and my family out of confusion. Having had 11 moves in the first 10 years of our married life, we bought an half acre R.O.W. section in Glen Eden, built our house, planted fruit trees etc. and dug our roots in deeply. I was richly blessed, when I shared my thoughts about selling everything up, and shifting down as soon as possible with Rose, to find that she was in perfect agreement.
Within a few days, I flew back to Auckland, to finish the building contract I was engaged in. Miraculously, God undertook, what to me was a huge difficult task, that of selling the property in a working man’s suburb, for cash. One 7th morning, I felt impressed to look in classified advertisements for Houses Wanted, in the newspaper. Someone was wanting to buy exactly what I was trying to sell. I phoned the given number, and a child answered the phone. I gave my phone number and hung up. An hour or so later, someone rang back, expressing interest and a desire to see the property, next morning – 1st day, so I didn’t go as usual to fellowship with the local Church, but showed him over the house and property. By the 4th day of that same week, my solicitor had received the full cash payment. Praise God!
We shifted down to Springbank at the beginning of the 2nd month 1973. That was almost 41 years ago. We finally got out of the wilderness, and over into the well watered promised land, flowing with milk and honey. By contrast with the first half of my life, the second half here in the Christian Church has been rich and fulfilling. I had so much to learn about submitting myself to my brethren in all things, having all things common, and the sharing life together. Spiritual pride, arguing, independence and self-esteem, have died hard.
“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”