MARRIAGE & PASTORAL MINISTRY
When I began attending the Pentecostal church in Melbourne, I joined the choir, the tenors sat behind the altos. In the alto section was a lovely young Christian lady I was attracted too, and her name was Margaret. We courted for a few months, then she felt to conclude the relationship, I was devastated, but realised that unless I completed my Theological training I would never fulfil the call of God, and marriage at that time would not have been the way to go.
So, as recorded in my last blog, I graduated from College, and before taking up my new Assist Pastor’s position went back to Melbourne for Christmas and Christmas camp. I saw Margaret around the camp but did not have a chance to speak to her. Then on New Year’s ever after the evening service, my mate and I were heading for a coffee break in the dining hall, when ahead of me in the line was Margaret and a girl friend of hers. When we got inside my mate and Margaret’s girlfriend disappeared and Margaret and I enjoyed a hot drink together. On New Year’s eve at 10pm there is a Missions meeting where missionaries share their story (usually with slides). We went into the meeting but did not stay but went for a long walk, I needed to apologise to Margaret for a number of matters so there was a precious reconciliation. Margaret had broken up our relationship at the direction of the Lord, she felt it was an Abraham/Isaac sacrifice and the Lord would unite us again in His time. We got back at 11pm for the Watchnight Service, and at midnight as is the custom everyone kisses each other wishing them a happy new year, so I got my first kiss with Margaret. The very next night I proposed to Margaret and she said yes. A few days later I returned to Brisbane. In March Margaret flew to Brisbane and we were formally engaged. On Thursday 6th May I flew to Melbourne and on the 8th we were married. We returned to Brisbane via the Gold Coast where we had a lovely honeymoon, we moved initially into a small flat, and we both got secular work. Prior to our marriage the Senior Pastor tendered his resignation, and I was asked to take the position as Senior Pastor. I was young and inexperienced and did not have a Mentor to help me. When the Pastor left we moved into the Manse, I had resigned my secular job and was full time, but the pressures and stresses soon built up and I exhibited signs of having a stomach ulcer. There was much opposition from one Board member that made my life miserable. We tendered our resignation and at then end of 1965 returned to Melbourne.
Ten years later that Board member had moved churches and received teaching at his new church on the role of a Shepherd (Pastor) he wrote and asked my forgiveness for the way he treated me. Often we don’t get vindication this side of heaven but in this case I did.
Again we got secular work and again began attending and serving in that same Pentecostal church. Some 2+ years later I was asked if I would consider taking over a church plant in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne which we accepted and although I continued to have secular employment we saw the church grow with much blessing. Our first son Stephen had been born that year so there was the added joy and responsibility of parenthood.
After nearly three years of Pastoring this church I received a call to a church in the Blue Mountains in NSW, I felt to accept, and again we saw blessing and growth, our second son David was born during this time. I was still young in ministry, but was gaining experience including being elected as the State Secretary of the denomination which brought me into contact with many great men of God who impacted my life.
Again after almost three years in the Blue Mountains we received a call to a church very near the CBD in Sydney. You could actually see the Harbour bridge through the church windows. It was an old established church but only had about 40 members. It was during this time, that we began to see such blessing, the Sanctuary was extended, and a new Manse was purchased, the 40 became 200 with many young people and young adults as well as older folks. We arrived in February 1973, just after the election for the first time in over 20 years of a Labour Government. One of the first bills to be passed was the cancellation of the “White Australia Policy” so Australia began to be flooded with new immigrants that had been banned under the old policy. We saw many Fijians come into the church, and we started the first Fijian congregation,(of our denomination) which continued to grow and some years later we were able to hand the congregation over to a Fijian Pastor who was able to get a separate property for them and they continued to grow.
Numerous Asians came into the church, particularly through the ministry of a Singaporean that became part of the fellowship (more about him later).My Discipling and Mentoring ministry began to develop and a number of the young men went to Bible College and are still in ministry today. Our growth slowed somewhat when in 1977 Frank Houston came from N.Z. and commenced what became a mega church (now part of Hillsong church Australia).
It was at this time we especially started to feel a stirring in our heart, but did not know clearly what the Lord was initially saying to us. eventually we realised to our shock the Lord wanted us to move on, so without a church to go to we tendered our resignation after almost 7 years of experiencing a precious move of the Holy Spirit. A friend came through and prophesied over us, that “many” doors would open up, and the Lord would give us wisdom in our decision making. Within weeks we had received 5 calls, two were from the U.S.A. I sought counsel from a man who became my Mentor, he said I was not “ready to run with the ball”. he was right, but my pride was sure hurt. Then a call came from North Queensland to which we let our name go forward to accept, we were given virtually a 100% call, but the Lord said NO. Another invitation came from a great church in Northern NSW, which interested us, then they heard that a “superstar” was available so they called him, he remained there for only three months!!!! Then last and very least, a call came from a church about 100 miles north of Sydney, as State Secretary I knew the church well, it had has 2 nasty splits, and there were 40 hurting people left, it was still seeking to continue to run an ACE school,(years 1-10) and a Bookshop. The church had withdrawn from the denomination and we did not want to go, but the Lord made it very clear we were to go.
This church became the highlight of our Pastoral Ministry, those 40 hurting people became 400, and the largest Charismatic congregation in the city. We purchased a large church building. I developed an exciting Eldership, there were a number of full time Pastors on staff, and was learning how to build a local church “according to the pattern” of the Word of God, and the result was the blessing and glory of God.
Again after 7 years we felt that stirring again, not sure again what the Lord had in mind. My Eldership very graciously sent us off for 2 weeks to seek the Lord and to seek counsel regarding our future. We spoke to numerous key people who gave us very mixed counsel. After two weeks we returned home, not having received any clear direction.The very first night home we received a phone call, that was to totally change our lives and the direction of our ministry. No longer would pastoring churches, be the major part of my ministry, but I would do something that was never in my heart and mind, but I have not the slightest doubt was in the plan and purpose of God from eternity past.