He died three weeks later. Our first reaction was to wonder why Michael had not been healed when it seemed that thousands had prayed for him.
But because of our bedrock of faith in God’s promise that nothing can separate us from His love, my wife, Bette, and I came to realize that God’s will is sovereign, that He allowed Michael’s death, and that just because we are Christians, we are not excluded from experiencing such a traumatic loss.
When I was very young, my mother took me to Sunday school and church. I became involved in the boy’s club and youth group, and I later became a Sunday school teacher. I considered myself to be a “good person.”
When I was in my late teens, I went to Melbourne to attend university, and I began going to an evangelical church. There, I realized that being a Christian is not a matter of doing more good things than bad things or of going to church regularly. Rather, it is about having a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and whom I needed to accept as my Savior. I learned that salvation and a relationship with God as my heavenly Father is the gift of God’s grace and not a result of any of my good works.
About this time, in 1959, when I was being challenged about my faith, I went to hear Billy Graham preach in Melbourne. He spoke about one of the saddest stories in the Bible, in Mark 10. It’s the story of a rich young man and how he faced a choice of following Jesus or continuing to trust in his possessions and goodness. I could resist no longer–I wanted to follow Jesus. When Mr. Graham gave the invitation, I went forward to accept Christ as my Savior.
Even though I had attended church for many years, I had much to learn about growing as a born-again believer. One woman from the church prayed for me and encouraged me to attend a Bible study, which later was held at our own home. I also was encouraged to take evangelism training and went out with others, in twos, to share the Gospel with people at their front doors.
Scripture Union beach missions provided an outreach ministry to the wider community. Groups of us would take the Gospel to children on holiday at Australian beaches. We would gather the children, build a sand pulpit and tell Bible stories. I recall several young people praying to receive Christ during these missions.
My career as a businessman started about the same time that I made my decision to follow Christ.
After I was hired as a trainee chemist for a plastics company in 1960, the Lord led me through 18 position changes within the same company to become CEO in 1991. The company became one of Australia’s largest diversified public companies, with 36,000 employees in manufacturing operations around the world. In 1996 I retired as an executive, but I have continued as a non-executive director with other companies.
Since 1965 I have been a member of Christian Business Men Australia, which encourages Christians in the business world to meet weekly, to pray for unsaved friends and to arrange periodic outreach meetings at which a Christian layman shares his testimony. Over the years I’ve been thrilled to see many come to Christ via the same basic method as the Operation Andrew program, which is used in preparation for BGEA Crusades and Festivals.
The pressures of leading a large company put stress on my life and family relationships. I am thankful that God’s presence in my life provided daily direction and an undergirding peace which indeed passes all understanding. I also am grateful that God gave me a wonderful wife to stand by me these past 40 years.
In recent years, my involvement in evangelistic ministry has expanded through Samaritan’s Purse Australia and BGEA in Australia, where I am the chairman of both boards of directors. God is using both organizations to reach out with the Gospel to people in my own country and to our near neighbors.
In 2004 I helped to organize an Australia-wide Congress on Evangelism, followed by training in evangelism–which was carried out in 49 regions across the country. Presently, Christians are heavily involved with preparation for the Franklin Graham Festivals in Tasmania and Victoria this month.
Through the years Bette and I have experienced the grace and peace of God, which has enabled us to accept the hard things in life–like Michael’s death and, more recently, the loss of one of our granddaughters who lived for only seven weeks. We’ve come to realize that we are not the only ones to suffer such tragedies and that God has prepared us to come alongside others in their suffering. We have found God’s grace to be our comfort and joy, and we continue to trust in God and His plan and purpose for our lives.