History Matters!


A catch cry of recent years has been “Black Lives Matter”,  more recently “White Lives Matter’!

Well I want to add another “History Matters” as it gives value to people of the past.

When I was pastoring the historic Toowoomba Assembly of God which was founded in 1927, I had hanging on the office wall in my office the portraits of all my predecessors 

A visiting church leader scathingly ridiculed the display. “Why put those old blokes on the wall,” he said “We’re not living in the past we’re living in the future”.

Well, they were a constant reminder to me that God had guided, spoken to, given direction to these men and I was just another sojourner and I better run my leg of the journey well.

Each young tennis player running the gauntlet at Wimbledon is inspired by the greats who have gone before.

Every young soldier looking at the honour board is inspired by the sacrifices of those who have gone before.

The scriptural basis for our spiritual journey is based on the stories of those ancients who have gone before.

My purpose in this month’s Saturday Evening post is to stress three things

  1. Keep a Diary of your Journey.

Some years ago one of my young sons shared his spiritual confusion & doubts as he wrestled with the issues of life.

I was able to go to my old diary dealing with the same question.written when I was in Bible School. 

It reminded me that there is nothing new under the sun and the issues of life are common to man.

When we were on the mission field Betty wrote regularly to her mother.

How we regret that we didn’t ask that those letters be preserved.

What a story that would be! So keep a dairy. 

 2.  Preserve your History. 

Young pastors and leaders, don’t be tempted to make a bon fire of documents of the past.

The history, good and bad has brought the church where it is today.

You too will pass by – Clean the office out by all means but digitalise the documents or store them safely in the ceiling or under the floor of the pulpit.

3. History is Invaluable.

History is invaluable as a teacher, an inspiration, a warning, and can be an enormous blessing to those who walk by it with a capacity to be blessed by reflection.

Newsletters are the constant necessity of missionaries from a foreign country. Political correctness and security cover often limits the information that missionaries are able to share from their base of operation.

Fortunately when we served as a missionaries in the 1960s & 70s that was not the case and missionaries were able to share from their hearts the circumstances, conditions and culture as they found it.

Recently while trolling through my old files, I came across this news letter written by my wife Betty who was concluding her first two years as a new missionary and  new bride in a large remote village in Papua New Guinea.

‘It is with mixed feelings that I pack our boxes after two exciting years here in the village of Kalabu.

Yes, we’re on the move, and this period of many “firsts” hold to us precious memories.

Kalabu was our first home; not a mansion, but quite an old place built of native materials.

It was fun disguising its age with colourful, crisp curtains, and pretty covers, transforming it into our first happy home.

We lived in the midst of a large native village, hence it was my first experience of native living

How fearful were this first few months when the “big men” would stamp past our front door, “fight” the garamut in rage, and then prance around the clearing, shouting and yelling at each other in frenzied fury.

Those arguments would continue deep into the night – start at any time in the wee hours of the morning, but after a few months I learned that they usually produced nothing more fearful than a lot of noise.

But there was one time when these ravings of rage did produce tragedy; an ageing man with three spear wounds in his abdomen.

It was a privilege to share life and death, joy and sorrow with these people with whom we have come to share the light of the gospel.

School teachers may not think that a classroom full of staring children is ought to be afraid of, but my first experiance was somewhat like going into a lion’s den.

Their very limited English, and my very limited tok pisin; and whatever would I teach them?

However we were soon used to each other, and many happy hours were spent in the open class room.

I remember well my first patrol; a days journey through grassland, dense jungle, up mountains, over rocks, through rivers, until finally we were at the little Government patrol house at Mandaumen.

For a week we had good fellowship with the folk of this far-away village.

During the week I learned that the house was not made for privacy, that the Lilos were not made for sleeping, that the open fires were not made for cooking without burning, and that rivers were made for bathing.

Ahh the sheer delight of a hot bucket shower, clean pyjamas, and a long sleep on our good old mattress on our return to Kalabu.

I felt the thrill of Holy Ghost revival when He. like a flood, would sweep over the congregation, filling us with ecstasy and love.

From this move of God I saw a thriving church established.

On the other hand, Ive seen the Lord build His church with a convert here, and a convert there – one by one they are finding Jesus as their Saviour and friend.

Then there was the arrival of the native pastor.

Would the people respect him, support him, confide in him, work with him?

Just what sort of man is Pastor David Silingin?

He is a man of God full of the Holy Ghost, and by his holy example he has won the respect and love of his people.

His name with the addition of his acquired Bible name and title is quite a mouthful for the people, and when the folk on an odd occasion affectionately call him “Sili” (pronounced Silly) it is by no means a reflection on the man’s intelligence.

Each afternoon from his “bush sanctuary” we hear his intercessions, for his people, and feel confident that God has called him for this place at this time.

We will be moving to Maprik, some five miles away, and for a few months my husband will be able to visit the area during this time of transition.

Will you pray that God will lead and guide, and grant wisdom for His kingdom’s sake.’

As I conclude “History Matters” my thoughts reflect upon those who have gone before.

Men & Women like the Enticknaps, Chapmans, Douglas, Waters, Jobes, Duncan, Greaves, Peters, Kuskuffs, Swensons and I could go on and on – are just a few who have have left a legacy in our movement.

Much of the existing church real estate stands as monuments of sacrifice and  literal blood, sweat & tears.

Many pastors have supported themselves or taken sacrificial pay cuts and congregation members must also be mentioned in the desired goal that the church could own property for future generations.

Those of you who read this blog, especially those of earlier generations, hold history that will be lost unless it is written.

My challenge is that you write your stories, and I will endeavour to include your historical cameo and store it in the clouds!

Yes, History Matters!


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