I grew up in the south-east suburbs of Melbourne in an area known as Hartwell.
During that time the family, my parents and five older brothers, moved house twice. Initially the family moved from a home on a residential block to a home in the Hartwell shopping strip. Alongside the home was an operating dairy and at the front a milk bar. After several years the family moved again to a home on a residential block around the corner in Summerhill Road.
All this time, and while I was completing my primary and secondary schooling, the family worshiped at the Hartwell Church of Christ where my father was church secretary and my mother, who had a lovely soprano voice, sang in the church choir and prepared the flower arrangements for the Sunday services.
The evening services were traditionally known as the Gospel Service where the minister on finishing his sermon would give an altar call for anyone, who wanted to commit their life to Christ, to go forward to the front of the chapel.
I recall when I was aged fifteen my friend at the time, Ian, responded to the invitation. He got up out of his seat on the pew and went forward to the front of the chapel. I chose to stay!
Next Sunday after the morning service the minister at the time, H.J. Patterson, a wise and wonderful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, quietly came alongside and suggested that I would have liked to have gone forward that evening with my friend Ian. I responded in the affirmative and H. J. invited me to join him and Ian in his study for a series of lessons in preparation for our baptisms.
(Never underestimate the value of the quiet, personal invitation extended in response to your observations of a person’s possible interest in the Christian faith and the prompting of God’s Spirit. Take the step and ask, your invitation may lead to someone making a transaction with God that has eternal value.)
Ian and I were baptised into Christ during an evening service at the Hartwell Church of Christ on Sunday 26 July, 1959 and were welcomed into the fellowship of the church on the following Sunday 2 August.
My baptism was an outward expression of what I had known inwardly for sometime that I needed to declare publicly my faith in Jesus as my Saviour, Lord and Friend.
Little did I know that two days later, Tuesday 4 August 1959, my father would suffer a heart attack at work and die, aged 52. His death was a setback for a young lad, who had being growing up in a loving and caring family. However, although I drifted through life for the next few years, I was well aware of God’s interest in me. Over the years He has brought wonderful people across my path, who have had an amazing influence in regard to my journey with Christ. God has been and continues to be good to me.
I was presented with a New Testament on the day I was welcomed into the church. Although our older daughter got her hands on it at some stage while she was growing up I still have it on the bookshelf as a constant reminder of God’s goodness.