An Irregular Column


Letters From Australia


They have zip, dash, verve, get-up-and-go–so today’s modern young Australians will tell you. Observing them during a vacation visit to our son and family in Sydney, we see no reason to doubt their claim.

Their liveliness, optimism and vigor match the beauty of their rugged terrain and the lure of their countless beaches. They plan to shock the rest of the world’s competitors with their skill and dynamism at the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000. Winning the bidding to hold the Olympics in that significant year was a remarkable victory in itself!

Let me give you one example of individual masculine enterprise:

Belinda and David Longfellow, of Curl Curl, were married in December 1995. (Honest, there is a suburb called Curl Curl. I have it on good authority that when Territorial Commander John Gowens first visited the area, he told them he was from Sydney Sydney!)

On February 14, 1996, Belinda caught her regular bus into Sydney’s city center. At the first stop a stranger got on clutching a photograph of her and a bunch of flowers. He identified her and gave her the bunch of flowers.

At the next stop a stranger got on the bus, clutching a photograph of her and a bunch of flowers. On and on continued this astonishing procedure until Belinda had five bunches of flowers. At the sixth stop, the organizer, husband David, climbed aboard the bus to kiss her and wish her a happy Valentine’s Day.

See what I mean about Australian enterprise!

As I read the report in the Sydney Morning Herald it struck me that the good Lord has been handing me the equivalent of several bunches of flowers every day of my life. As Paul wrote, “Out of His mercy He heaps grace upon grace.”

The tidal flooding that made thousands of London’s East-enders homeless in 1926 evoked sacrificial service from Salvation Army officers known in those days as “Slum Sisters” (later to become Goodwill Department officers). Their loving heroism led Hugh Redwood, a distinguished News Chronicle reporter, back to a vital faith in God.

He became an ardent worker for the Army and a zealous preacher, sometimes almost exhausting his energies. On one occasion, his hostess, realizing his tiredness before an engagement, sent him early to bed. But on his pillow she left a King James Bible open at Psalm 59, with verse 10 circled. The AV reads: “The God of my mercy shall prevent me”-a rendering incomprehensible without a modern translation giving the promise “God will go before me.”

The hostess had written in the margin her own translation for Hugh: “The God of my mercy will be waiting for me at every corner.” Hugh Redwood later recorded that as he knelt beside the bed and read her annotation repeatedly, the glory of its reality suffused him in both tears and release from tension. He slept like a child with no worries about the major engagement facing him and awoke totally refreshed.

Our days in Sydney suggest for me another paraphrase: “The God of my mercy will be waiting for me at every bus stop.”


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