I was born in England, migrated to Australia at the tender age of 5 under the $50 Government convict allowance. Whilst aboard the boat I made a fortune selling all my sisters toys to the other deprived kids! Mum made us go to church, so over the next 8 years God groomed me to become a Christian and I made my commitment at a Billy Graham Crusade.
At age 15 my parents had had enough of me and so I was conscripted into the Navy where I spent the next 4 years in Sydney becoming a Marine Engineer. Before I left Brisbane, a Christian Elder took me aside and told me some home truths about Navy life stating if I did not show my true colours as a Christian from day one, then I could lose my eternal life.
I was never one to follow the pack and so getting on my knees to pray that first night beside my bed in a “Donga” of 25 other young 15 year olds was scary enough. It never resulted in any shoe throwing but certainly plenty of jibes from then on.
Those first 4 years went quickly. Support came from the resident Chaplain and a local Christian family who took me in as another son. Through these relationships I grew in Christian maturity.
As with all Christians, however, I was not perfect and was nearly thrown out of the Navy half way through having been caught shop-lifting.
The next 8 years at sea was an incredible experience as I voyaged with 6 different ships and spent many years overseas on deployments
Some highlights included:-
1. Being on watch in the engine room of the aircraft carrier “MELBOURNE” and slicing thru the destroyer “VOYAGER” as we were doing darkened night time aircraft landings at sea with the loss of over 70 sailors
2. Being on the frigate “PARRAMATTA” and tearing our propeller off on a submerged rock off Singapore (sadly we had to spend 2 weeks in Singapore???)
3. Being on the Oceanographic survey ship “KIMBLA” and sinking tied up at Sydney
4. Being on the frigate “YARRA” and escorting the “SYDNEY” in its missions to Vietnam and being regularly fired on
5. Being on the frigate “STUART” and being involved in the non-registered war against Indonesia as it tried to annex the small island of Borneo , again being regularly fired on. (the Australian government accepted it as a legitimate war and so we were happy to receive our war medals which gave us access to many perks).
Halfway through these adventures I married a beautiful Brisbane girl who I met at Brighton Baptist Church.
During this time I clung on to my Christian faith:
Whilst serving in the Navy I never touched alcohol, even though at sea beer & rum was given out freely (I made extra money selling mine). I was involved with others in starting the Australian arm of the English Naval Christian Fellowship to give support to Chaplains and Christians in the R.A.N. It was very successful.
Visits to Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines where often saturated with temptations (cheap liquor and sex), thanks to Christ, I was able to resist Satan’s many attempts to blacken my sheet. (Ironically only after I left the Navy did I succumb to such temptations).
When leaving the Navy I opted for self employment.
The Lord has used my entrepreneurial and business skills to commence 2 major works for the Baptists of Qld :-
1. Selling the old Currumbin Camp site 25 yrs ago for $2 million and building the Mapleton Centre.
The Architect and I toured major camp sites in NSW to get the ideas for Mapleton. I journeyed as far as Darwin to find the first Manager (Garth Shepherd)
The Admin committee of the B.U of Q. said we would never achieve the income target we set and also the occupancy rate !!!!! We achieved both. I resigned from that position after 6 years because of political interference.
2. At the close of my Chairmanship of Mapleton I was introduced to a man from the Church’s of Christ (Cliff Coward) who was delivering some incredible financial returns to that denomination. He was giving church’s who wanted to build new buildings , MONEY AT 0% INTEREST ???
It seemed too good to be true but after many meetings with him and the Finance Committee of the B.U.of Q, a committee to start the scheme was formed. We named it “BAPTIST INTERCHURCH AID = B.I.C.A.” it’s now called BAPLINK. In the first five years we gave away 5 million in funds to new church plants at 0% interest.
How God is Using Me now…
1. On a committee assisting in the running and fundraising for 4 high school chaplains
2. Fundraising for one of Gods Saints in Bangalore, southern India as he and his team of volunteers and underpaid staff run four
Orphanages for children who have been abandoned by their Hindu parents due to poverty and also kids from Christian parents who have been killed by the sectarian violence. I went over recently to visit this Saint and his kids, and boy was I blown away! Are they some of the smartest kids in their territory and all love the Lord. There are many such orphanages that come under the umbrella of large charities and have access to more funds, but this guy is on his own and needs our support
Any Support to these people is appreciated – See his ministry at www.raysofpeace.com