Zillmere Assembly of God – Queensland 1986 – 1993

The Church at Zillmere was pioneered by Pastor & Mrs Fred Buse in the 1960s with the help of Bible School students from the Commonwealth Bible College. Years later under the leadership of Pastor Roy & Dawn Short, the congregation outgrew its premises on Zillmere Road and needed to be relocated. A large parcel of prime land became available on Beams road and was purchased by the church under great financial sacrifice by its members.

In 1983 under Pastor Short’s leadership a new church building was built on the property in the neighbouring suburb of Taigum.

It was in January 1986 that we received an invitation from Pastor Short and the church Board to accepted a call to serve as Senior Pastors of the Zillmere Assembly of God in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland. 

During this time and after 10 years of associate senior ministry in Klemzig & Paradise in South Australia, a strange unsettledness seemed to envelope my emotions. Although I was initially perplexed by this, I knew something was stirring in my spirit for change. The Holy Spirit was stirring my nest and it was time to move on in obedience to the call. This was confirmed through the scriptures. Jeremiah 29:11 and Jeremiah 29:7. Later when doubt seemed to flood my mind, again the scriptures steadied my nerve through Isaiah 43:18-19.

We set off from Adelaide by road early in March 1986 with the family in tow. My eldest son Ted was in his  Holden Torana while I enjoyed the comfort of driving my Toyota Cressida on our long road trip to Queensland. It was fun at least we made sure it was!

On the way we encountered one of the worst dust  storms imaginable as we made our way across the desert of the Hay plains. We could barely see 10 meters in front of us as we cautiously drove across the desert.

Strange as it may seem, emotionally a thrilling challenge and excitement filled our hearts as we headed north to the sub tropics of Queensland. 

By the time we reached Brisbane the air filters on the two cars were clogged with dust resulting in severe damage on Ted’s Torana with an engine seizure as we came to a stop at our destination in Zillmere. We made it and were very thankful to arrive safely. 

The decision to leave my home town, extended family and the church which we had helped to build, came as a shock to some folk. Some questioned my decision as not being in the will of God, as I was leaving a large successful church position and taking on a responsibility that they thought was too small, while others thought it was beyond me. 

I knew in my heart however that a paradigm shift had taken place and the time was right to leave the comforts and resources of Paradise Assembly of God and head north to care for another Assembly of God’s people even though they were small in number.

In the natural it seemed a strange thing to do, especially in the light of leaving such a successful and secure position in what was then, the largest congregation and church complex in Australia.

Some of our children were teenagers and had to relocate their high school to a Queensland curriculum. They had many friends which they had to leave behind, yet they all felt excited at the prospect of relocating to Queensland and making a new home. 

As we drove into Brisbane my heart skipped a beat at the prospect of this new challenge. Pastor Roy & Dawn Short the retiring pastor, had arranged for our accommodation, kindly allowing us the use of their home until we could buy a home of our own.

The children were also excited at the prospect of getting involved in this new Kingdom venture.

To some degree I felt like I was on a Missionary assignment again as Roy & Dawn Short had been our colleagues in Papua New Guinea.

After the induction service which was attended by 150 or so people my heart was warmed to this small congregation whom the Lord had given me responsibility to care for. I fell in love with them immediately and I felt a strong bond of protection for them. To this day when I meet some old Taigum Members that special bond of love remains. I call them  “My Taigumites”! 

I was excited at the prospect of sowing my life and that of my family into this assembly to grow it into a large progressive and vibrant church on the north side of Brisbane.

All that I had learned in the years I served in the Klemzig & Paradise churches, now became a blue print to open up the vision of this congregation.

However, one thing I had not anticipated was the different cultural life style of the people compared to South Australians. The easy going and laid back attitude & life style of Queenslanders took me by surprise. I soon adjusted my thinking and lowered my expectations about sudden growth. These were a people who loved God but loved the outdoor Queensland life style of sunshine and leisure.

After settling in to the pastorate over a period of two years I slowly introduced changes one of which was to change the name from Zillmere Assembly of God to Taigum Gardens Assembly of God in 1988. 

Over the seven or so years at Taigum the church grew steadily. I was convinced that growth would come through ministry to children & youth.

As a result we invested our resources in the services of a full-time Assistant Pastor. Pastor Kerry & Janita Shipp came to Taigum from the Gympie Assembly in June 1987 and served until January 1991. They served faithfully in the role of Assistant Pastor and covered numerous portfolios.

Our Youth Group’s attendance grew quickly and attracted many fine young people. The youth became a vibrant group within the church and swelled the numbers weekly.

The Royal Ranger ministry and Children’s Church attracted other young families as well. It was a time of positive growth for which we thank God.

Music & public worship which was a gifting that I enjoyed with my family, brought much blessing. Although these ministries were a part of our vision, I desired more than anything else the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit in our public worship services.

The church grew expeditiously and by 1992 it had reached a healthy capacity of over four hundred plus attending the Sunday services.  A comfortable size congregation to serve a community!

During this time we took a step of faith (which included a salary cut) and were able to purchase 2 acres of valuable property next door to the church for $280,000. This was secured for future growth, a building program for future generations.

I had dreams of building a Missionary Training College on the land but it was not to be. Instead I invited a former missionary colleague Ps Kevin Hovey to consider running a short term missionary training course in the Church facilities.

He called it MOTC – Missionary Orientation Training Course which ran for a number of years. The success of the program enabled Ps Hovey to expand his vision and it became known as World Harvest Institute. Today it is located in Sydney and called Global Training Ministries. (www.globaltraining.org.au)

My vision for the church property was to build an auditorium seating 1500 in front of the existing building. I was disappointed as this also was not to be, at least during the time of my tenure as Senior Pastor. It will happen one day I believe!

My decision to resign as Senior Pastor of the Taigum Gardens Assembly was a difficult one for my family. We had a comfortable home in a good neighbourhood and many friendships in Brisbane, besides my vision for the churches future was still alive.

I also enjoyed responsibility serving on the State Executive with its focus on the bigger picture. I was aware that I needed to consider what was best for the church.

Surveys have shown that after five or six years most pastors run out of creative ideas and ideally should move on for the good of the church.

Although I was satisfied I could continue I also was aware that the congregations needed a change and besides my vision to build a larger auditorium would not be realized for a long time to come. A new pastor would bring fresh vision, direction & energy to the church and perhaps be the one to build the new sanctuary. May it be so!

It would have been easy to stay on as my support base in the church was secure, but I have always believed that a true shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. It wasn’t what was important to my support, security or vision that mattered, but what was in the best interest of the congregation.

I resigned in 1993 when the Church was on a high and moved to the large rural town of Toowoomba which was to be my final place of full time service.

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