My journey into faith in Jesus began when I left home at 7 years old – I was sent to Boarding School and only ever went home again for holidays. The first year away from home I lived with my grandparents in Kimberley, South Africa. My grandfather was a diamond prospector and a deeply committed Christian. A solid Methodist, he took me to Sunday School, taught me to pray and established the roots of my faith.
The following year I was enrolled in Bishop’s Hostel in Kimberley and this was to be my home for the remainder of my school days. It was Anglican and we had a succession of Chaplains who introduced me to the rubrics of the Anglican Church and the Christian faith. They were inspirational at times but learning these things was not exactly at the top of my “to do list” at that time of my life. I suffered going to church 15 times a week for the next ten years … but made the most of it; volunteering as a choir boy and altar server because we got paid! When I left school, I also left the church.
At the age of 27 I had the surreal experience of God speaking to me quite audibly. He said, “Many times I have longed to come to you but have been prevented from doing so until now.” I later discovered that these were the words of Paul to the Church in Rome (Romans 1:13). It launched me on a journey of discovery. It was the time of the charismatic renewal of the late 1970’s and I discovered that the church had changed quite dramatically. My wife was attending the local Presbyterian Church in Port Elizabeth in South Africa and I joined her there. I couldn’t get enough of church – I attended morning and evening services at St Martin’s Presby, went to the Anglican Church down the road after each of our services, attended a Bible Study at our church and another with a group of Chinese Catholic Charismatics at a Christian bookshop.
I felt called to ministry but was enjoying my secular employment as an economist and financial analyst. A few years later I was offered a scholarship to undertake an MBA degree at the Graduate School of Business in Cape Town and that tended to focus my interest on my career. After graduation I was appointed as International Economist for a major bank in South Africa and later established an investment company trading in currencies on behalf of a select group of blue chip companies.
After several very successful years the call to ministry began to outweigh the tensions of 24 hour trading in the currency markets and I sold my share of the company. I enrolled for a part-time degree in theology and offered myself as an unpaid assistant to our church in Benoni, South Africa. I was asked to plant a new church in the recently established suburb of Crystal Park. I purchased a hardware store as a means of meeting the people in the area and my wife established a haberdashery store. It was a crazy time, we didn’t make much money but we met lots of people and the church grew from two families in a lounge to almost filling a school hall. Eventually I graduated and was ordained into ministry at the age of 43 years.
Two years later God called us to another congregation in Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. It was a 100 year old congregation worshipping in a 100 year old building. There were about 60 members. We served there for 16 years. In that time the congregation grew by leaps and bounds – the old chapel proved totally inadequate and we had to erect a new church building.
In 2009 we were called to minister in the Uniting Church in Australia and moved to Western Australia, serving in the Eastern Wheatbelt Parish, in Geraldton and in Perth.