My Call to Missionary Service

It was September 1960 and I was nearing the end of my Bible College training. The Commonwealth Bible College had become my home away from home. I had made some life long friends in Bible College and in a subjective way, I felt safe.  Strangely however as I drew to close to the end of my ministry training I was becoming quite apprehensive about the future.

I had no idea what I was going to do. As with some of my students friends, I imagined my gifting or ministry to be far greater than that which I was equipped with or could deliver.

Privately I had thoughts of becoming another Billy Graham of perhaps a Gospel Radio preacher. It’s amazing how young men can have ‘tickets’ on them selves. It’s called “Pride” and God had to deal with it!

 Although these thoughts floated through my imagination at times, reality had a way of soon bringing me back to earth as nothing seemed to be working for me. Whats more, no one out there in the church world seemed to care, or notice nor did they come knocking on my door.

My class mates seemed to be getting direction and hearing from God about their future ministry, but not Freddie! Feelings of self pity began to infiltrate my thought processes as the date for a decision to be made grew ever so closer. What am I going to do?

Little did I understand it at the time, but it was all part of my emotional training as God taught me to deal with my emotional life and the self pity that was a frequent visitor to my door. I didn’t know it at the time but just a year later I would be thrust into the midst of a New Guinea jungle wondering what had I let myself into. Self pity and introspection can do strange things to you when alone. God was preparing me!

Did God speak to me in an audible voice? No, He just let me go through the process of profit & loss. Working it out by trial and error!

Bible College was a wonderful experience for me but I had to make a decision about my future. My male ego wouldn’t let me drift along with the tide of life and so I prepared myself to go back to work in the ANZ Bank and train as a Bank Manager.

It was my final term and I was twenty one years old. I knew I could be a success in the Banking world as my former Bank manager was very disappointed that I should leave to take up theological training. In fact he was angry that one of his prize recruits should want to leave the Bank and ‘waste’ his life in the Church.

It was late one Monday evening in September 1960 when my heart was feeling depressed that I remembered my father Tom Evans had written to me. I was lying on my bed just prior to the lights out curfew of 10pm when I thought I would read the letter again.

Perhaps I should explain that when I received the letter a few days earlier I had read it through quickly and disposed of it in the rubbish bin next to my bed because I not happy about the content.  

The letter contained some instruction that I was not happy about. He said he felt impressed of the Holy Spirit to write to me just prior to my graduation. In essence, in a caring but directive letter he strongly advised that I should become a Missionary.

Among other things he believed that I should immediately apply to the Foreign Missions Council of the Assemblies of God in Australia as a candidate for Missionary Service to Papua New Guinea with a view to starting work in January 1961 which was just three months away.

My initial response was negative as I had no intention of following in his footsteps. Secondly he seemed to have more faith about my future than I did and besides missionary service did not appeal to me at all!

You see, I had been brought up on the Mission Field of India and I was well acquainted with the sacrifices that my parents had made for the Kingdoms sake. Besides I remember the poverty and the eyes of little children begging for food on the streets. 

Interestingly after initially rejecting his advise and throwing his letter in the waste paper bin next to my bed I prayed, as was my habit before the lights were turned out in the College dormitory. “Lord please talk to me, please show me what I should do with my life. I need your help.”

Believe it or not, that night I encountered what I can only describe as a supernatural epiphany of the manifest presence of God. Such was the awareness of God’s presence upon me that I couldn’t stop crying. I wept in awe of God’s love for me. He not only spoke to me through my fathers letter but through the scriptures.  Proverbs 1:8.

It was then that I knew that I knew He had called me. It caused me to completely change my mind. I knew God had finally given me direction which was confirmed in prayer and further conformation which I received the next day. That was the turning point, the catalyst that set me on my life’s journey.

The next morning I could hardly contain myself as I made an appointment to talk with the College Principal, Pastor James Wallace. I told him of my experience the previous night. As he listened I once again had to battle my insecurities as I was fearful that he might reject my story.

To my surprise he leaned forward looking intently into my face, as if to make sure I understood, then he said “Freddie I have watched you grow over these last three years and I know you have a missionary call upon your life”.

I wish he had told me that years earlier. But isn’t it true that the struggle of faith is what makes our Call all the more complete and dependable in the tough times! He prayed with me and gave me his blessing. I walked out of his office as if I were walking on a cloud! A few words of affirmation from my leader made all the difference and an adventure of trusting in God had begun.

Little did I realize where the Lord would take me on life’s journey. Now after 50 years I can tell the story and hopefully encourage some young person who feels the call upon their life. The road of service is not easy and demands incredible sacrifice at times. But having said that, I have travelled all over the world and also had the privilege of being a Pastor of some of the great churches in Australia.

You know when you’ve done it right and served God to the best of your ability, at the end of your life there is a sense of great joy in that you have served God in your generation and finished your course. In this video it captures  a portrait of my journey and that of my mates from the early days of my training to my retirement years. All I can say is “To God Be The Glory – It’s Worth It”

Post Script: It is over 50 years since I graduated from the Commonwealth Bible College and to be honest it just seems like yesterday! Would I do it all over again if I could rewrite the script? Of course I would!

It has been the privilege of my life to serve God and obey His Call upon my life, I wouldn’t change a thing.

The Bible says in Psalm 37:23  and again in Psalm 37:31

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