Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Sample

I dedicate this book to the memory of two forgotten missionaries of the 1980s. I knew both of them, as they were associated with our church in missions.

'Name Withheld' served as missionary in the mountains of Mindanao Philippines.  Sadly, as a young man with a family, he took his life after he returned to Australia when his time of service was over.

'Name Withheld', who also was an Australian missionary in Luzon Philippines - he also had a young family.  He also took his life after returning to Australia when his time of service concluded.

Make no mistake - missions is a costly calling for all, especially for these two men and their families.

Being a missionary is not a career but a calling - full of difficulties and obstacles, with over a 90% failure rate. Just read an old mission magazine and ask yourself the question, “Where are they now?”  Few remain.  We face the devil on his turf, and see and experience a miraculous realm not known to others; face many dangers and perils amid terrible poverty, with faith and zeal.  It is an exciting realm full of challenges - some too horrible to mention.  We take our families to emerging nations and foreign cultures, sell our homes and move countless times.  My wife tells me we had 10 major moves in 16 years.  We have moved so much my kids did not know if they were Australian or Filipino - and I am not much better.

I met Rosie my wife-to-be in northern New South Wales.  Rosie was of Chinese heritage but grew up in Manila. I fell hopelessly in love, then a short while later found myself in the Philippines for the first time.  I just wanted to get back on the plane when confronted with the situation there - after two weeks in Manila I just wanted to go home.  But in the end, God gripped my heart with a passion for the people which few can understand.  So began our mission journey.

I approached AOG World Missions to become a missionary. George Forbes was the leader in those days.  He gave me a list of things to do which was a mile long.  He required us to do three years’ Bible college, and be involved in ministry - among many other things. We took our children out of school, and rented our home and left for Bible college. We planted two churches in Queensland - which met with much opposition - and let me say: it was far easier to plant churches in the Philippines than it was in Australia.

After years of preparation, we had word from the mission department that they had closed the door for missionary appointments in the Philippines and that our service would not be required. We returned home dejected.  Remember, we had moved our family twice - and interstate. Our home was destroyed by termites and tenants. The whole six years cost us many thousands of dollars, and a business - and put a lot of pressure on us as a family.

We tried other mission organisations, only to be met with frustration.  Nobody wanted to know us.  Many friends tried to discourage us.  The Devil did his thing also.

Not one to give up, we planned, prayed and waited. Then 12 months later I unexpectedly received a phone call from a man whom I respect greatly - John Harrop.  I can still remember his every word when he invited me to become a missionary in the Philippines.  He invited me to do the World Harvest Institute (WHI) course in Sydney.  We went for six weeks.  I gleaned every word he uttered - and to this day I still draw on his wisdom and life experience in the Philippines. I have tried to find him many times since, but to no avail. I love him and appreciate his suffering.  I hope one day to track this hero down.

After two years’ hard work, we raised our funds and set our sails and focused on the Philippines.  Then began a great challenge.  Culture and language are two great chasms that cannot be crossed but by time and experience.

After we arrived we moved into a dream location by the ocean, which we had prayed and believed for many times.  The second night in Tacloban City, my wife woke me up in the middle of the night - it was pitch black, around 2 a.m. - to the noise of the bedroom door handle turning.  Luckily I’d locked the bedroom door.  I heard keys - but the thief had the wrong keys. The kids slept next door to us in a room with a locked door also.

In a blind instant, I opened the door and yelled at the top of my voice.  The thief jumped two floors onto the sand below carrying our new camera and video-recorder, as well as other things he'd stolen from downstairs. That night I had taken $10,000 cash upstairs that we had saved to set up our house.  I was glad it was not stolen. He had a knife - as he had cut through the fly screen to gain access through the louvre.  I was lucky, some said.

The next day we were gone.  We moved into a sixth floor apartment in the middle of the city.  The elevator did not work, the street outside stank. Of a night time from the roof I could see the crazy and homeless people roaming the street, some of them roamed around naked. I was struck by the could-not-care-less attitude of people towards them.

People just stared at us day and night for two years. We watched the world go by from the roof of our rented room far above the world of tar and cement. The neighbours below us would sometimes complain about the shuttlecocks that my kids lost on their roofs, blocking their drains and downpipes - when rain came water went everywhere. The best thing about that place was new year’s eve.  We had so many fireworks - it was crazy out there, just like kids again.

My sons were constantly harassed by gays, along with the nonstop staring of everyone.  It caused them to withdraw, and it took two full years for them to adjust.  My daughter who was young received much attention from males who thought she was 17 years old.  Because of her height they had difficulty in working out her age.  She was only 12 years old.

The building we were living in had many cracks in the walls.  The owner said it was only the cement skin cracking.  I looked outside - it was cracked straight through the wall.  I was soon to discover why.  We had cable television for $4.00 a month - we had the ABC Asia Pacific, which meant I could watch the Australian football live. I was lying on my lounge, which had wheels on it,  when all of a sudden all the windows began to rattle and my lounge began to roll around the room.  We had just experienced our first of dozens of earth tremors.  It sure was scary up there.

During these months we were greatly encouraged by American missionary Mark Alston who, with an open heart, helped us to adjust to culture.  One day when learning to drive there - and being very frustrated - he just looked at me, and said with his Texan voice, “The world you came from is just a fantasy - this is the real world”.  He was dead right.

For the first three weeks I was scared to eat the food and would always wash my hands at every instant.  My wife set me straight: I had to forget where I came from and get on with adjusting. In fact, you adjust so much over a period of time that you feel like an alien when you come back to Australia. I still just do not like it in Australia.  Whenever I am in Australia I just find myself wanting to go back, sometimes with tears in my eyes.

Pastor Jim MacLauchlan and Spot Cairns visited us many times, and their encouragement was like an ointment to the soul.  I remember one night we drove through the tropical rain for several hours and just talked about the state of Filipino street dogs.  I laughed for four hours straight - I've never experienced anything like it since.  Something inside me was set free.  We carried on with that topic for a week.  Our Filipino companions thought we were nuts.

Pastor Len Merrit, who has now passed away, also visited us many times, encouraging us just when we needed it.  Many teams came and went.  We made many close friends from one end of Australia to the other.  Their ministry to the nationals was invaluable.

I remember one night we travelled along a forest road with a couple of Australian pastors onboard, along with my son Raymond.  We were stopped by a troop of soldiers, and one of them was drunk, pointing an M16 at us.

I am reminded also of my wife, on another occasion, when she was confronted at knife point.  At times it was dangerous out there.

I saw a young man maybe 20 years old brought into hospital.  Right in front of me the nurse punched a hole in his ribs with a knife, then pushed a garden hose into his lungs to drain blood into a bottle, maybe half a litre.  She then left him.  I turned around - he was unattended - in an instant he was dead.  Things like that leave an everlasting impression on your mind.

The most difficult thing was the emotional breakdown of our eldest son, which forced us home early.  That was a nightmare.  It took him quite a while to recover once back in Australia.

God has always been with us and has protected us and led us into the realm of the supernatural, miracles dreams and visions.

Sometimes I would nap off for 10 minutes in the heat of the day - as it helps to energize you - and I’d have the clearest dream, and see it come to pass.  At times while awake I would see short pictures of things which would also come to pass.

We planted many churches and did a lot of good works - exciting stuff right out of the book of Acts.

The Bible tells me that God blessed Job more in the latter half of his life than in the first half.  If we as a people can grasp that, then nothing is impossible - and with God all things are possible.

We are looking forward to great things in the future.  We have an exciting vision that will take years to see fulfilled.  I have set faith-goals both long and short-term.  If God be for us, then who can be against us.  I intend to take things to another level, cross borders and raise up a spiritual army to take nations.  To do this we need to be aggressive in faith - no surrender.  For since the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and the forceful lay hold of it.

This is our story.