Growing Up in Adelaide

Growing up as a young person in Australia I first need to explain about my roots as a child.

I was born in Adelaide to missionary parents Tom & Stella Evans.

When I was nine months old they travelled back to India where they had committed themselves to serve as missionaries with the Assemblies of God pentecostal church & plant a church in Kirkee.

I spent most of my childhood years in India as a boy learning to speak a bit of village Hindi and Marathi from my village friends.

We returned to Australia in 1951 and I found myself having to adjust dramatically to Australian school life which was not at all sympathetic to my protected upbringing as a missionarie’s kid.

We lived in a small asbestos walled house (The Manse) at 23 Lancia Road in Croydon Park in Adelaide, South Australia.

Although our home was very humble in design it was all that I knew and was reasonably comfortable except for the cold and chilly South Australian winters!

It was here I spent my teenage years making the most of life’s joys and learning to cope with my personal challenges at school, along with all the things that teenagers struggle with!

I did have a pet Dog however, called “Dinky” that was great company for me growing up, especially when I came home from a hard day at school.

He must have been a special Dog for me to include his picture in my story!

When my father retired from missionary service he accepted the call to become the Pastor of  the Franklin Street Assembly of God in Adelaide.

It was in this pentecostal church as a young teenager, that my life had its formative preparation for what was to become my future vocation.

I proudly became part of the youth group of the church which was called “Christ Ambassadors” or CAs as they were known.

I proudly used to ware my badge which seemed to give me a sense of identity at the time.

As the son of the minister I remember becoming very defensive at times when members of the church criticized my father.

I recall his position as the senior pastor as being very tenuous!

Every year at the November annual general meeting, he would be voted upon by the members of the church as to whether he should remain as the pastor.

I sensed the apprehension he would feel and wondered why this sort of process was necessary!

Thankfully in latter years the Assemblies of God churches in Australia adopted new employment policy which has done much to enable Pastors to feel more secure in their service.

It took away the apprehension and fear that ministers struggled with each year.

It was in this church I grew up as a teenager which helped shape my life for future service.

I observed closely my father’s dedication to serve and the cause of Christ. He opitimized to me a faithfulness in service and was a good shepherd.

His comitment to prayer and the study of the Word left a lasting impression upon my life.

Interestingly my family tree has a connection with this first Pentecostal Church of Adelaide through my great uncle Rev Richard Marks who was it’s first Pastor.

My mother confirmed that Richard Marks took the over-site of the small group of Pentecostal believers and moulded them into a cohesive group.

Prior to this the church was leaderless and had become doctrinally exclusive in practice.

It is known that Pastor Richard Marks had a particular passion for overseas Missionary work and contributed extensively to the Foreign Missions programme of the church. 

Possible this interest was influenced by his grand niece Stella Evans who was the first Missionary sent out from the church to India.

Upon his death in 1933 he bequeathed a substantial amount of money from his estate to this first Pentecostal Church of Adelaide.

During the 1950’s when my father was pastor, we would meet every Sunday afternoon at 3pm for an afternoon service in the Rechabite Chambers in the centre of Adelaide – Victoria Square.

One of the memories of those afternoon services was the enthusiastic singing of Hymns from the Redemption Hymnal. 

Clapping during the chorus is a memory that remains with me to this day.

It sounded like this;

It was the practice in those days that before each Sunday evening service a small band of believers from the church would conduct open-air meetings in Victoria Square right in the heart of Adelaide.

Often small crowds of people would gather around the Christians as they preached, sang, played their musical instruments (piano accordions) and shouted out what was called “gospel shots”, scripture verses.

It was here on the streets of Adelaide that I had my early training in Gospel Music.

The youth group in the Church was quite small in number at the time but we did want to serve God.

Four of us formed ourselves into a male voice quartet and called ourselves the “Marantha Messengers.”

Each week we would sing in the open-air meetings attracting a crowd.

We would also go down to the river Torrens in the heart of Adelaide and sing gospel songs in acepella.

Years later in 1990 the original quartet of Norm Milburn, Carl Mason, Freddie Evans & Ian Scannell got together for a reunion and sang at the Paradise Community Church in honour of my father TL Evans who had just turned 90 years of age.

Our style of music was very different to today’s contemporary sounds of church music but never the less was very popular.

In the secular world the Four Aces and the Ink Spots popularized what was called “Barber Shop” music.

In those days there was no Television so listening to a gospel quartet or street preachers drew allot of attention & attracted some interest among casual city dwellers.

It was in these open-air meetings that I first learned to preach.

I can’t say many responded except for a few old drunks who occasionally came into the service to hear the gospel and were amazingly converted.

My interest in preaching however needed some polishing, so I decided in 1958 to go to Bible College with my brother Andrew and three other young men from the church.

They were Norm Millburn, Bob Bootes and Ian Scannell. 

After graduating from Bible School in 1960 I sailed for Papua New Guinea to serve as a missionary with the Assemblies of God Papua New Guinea Mission.

(see the story on page “About our Ministry in Papua New Guinea”)

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