In the midst of all that was happening since arriving in Sydney, living in Australia was certainly a new experience for the children. In their short lives they had been living as missionaries amongst people who had no knowledge of the Lord. Their concept was that people didn’t love Jesus because they didn’t know about Him. It was a surprise for them to come to Australia and many times, as we travelled on public transport or visited the shops, they would hear name of Jesus used but not by people who loved Him. They had never heard profanity before. That these people knew about Him but didn’t love Him was a totally new revelation for them.
Our new home was in a cul-de-sac with many young families and we enrolled David and Rebecca in the same local school the neighbourhood children went to. When we moved in, the children in the street gathered outside, curious about their new neighbours, and David and Rebecca went out to meet them and make friends. They all went up to the spare block of land next to our house to play. I was at the kitchen sink washing the dishes. I couldn’t see them but I could hear them playing and I was enjoying so much the thought that the children had made friends. After a little while the games stopped and I could hear David talking. He was telling them all about the Lord and how He had died on the Cross. I could hear him praying for each of them to receive Jesus into their hearts.
My feelings were mixed. I was so proud of him but I was also fearful for him. I knew what the possible reaction of these children would be. I could imagine the jeering and mocking he could get. I wanted him so much to have friends and fun as a child should. But sure enough what I feared proved right. Every day at school David experienced horrific persecution. He was ostracized and targetted.
Each morning we would pray with the children as they left for school. Some days, as they returned home, we would see the heavy spirit of rebellion that had come on David. Paul would deal with it immediately.
“Come on, son” he would say, “Let’s pray with you."
As we did, the heaviness would lift off him and he would be his normal happy self again. But every day we had to watch. One day David came home from school and said,
“Mum, I feel so dirty. The boys tell dirty jokes all the time and I can’t help but hear. Should I just sit on my own apart from them?”
He was already suffering so much from them I didn’t want him to suffer a total cutting off. He was experiencing the reality of living in the world but not being of it (John 15:18-19).
“Son”, I said, “You know when you are having a shower no dirt is able to stick to you? Don’t sit on your own, but when the boys begin telling their jokes, lift your heart to the Lord and have a spiritual “shower”. The “dirt” won’t stick.”
Off he went the next day and came home rejoicing.
“Mum” he said, “it works! I kept having a spiritual ‘shower’ and it works!”
I thanked the Lord in my heart for the wisdom He had given me.
What David was going through weighed heavily on my heart. Many times I would pray for him through the night.
It was during this period that David’s gift for writing became obvious. He came home from school with a poem that he had written called "Time". Paul and I were utterly amazed when we read it:
“What is this thing passing from breath to breath
Which is endless, yet so quick?
Time is a book read right to the end.
Time is a tree falling to the ground
Or the earth rotating on its axis
From Atlantic to Pacific Oceans.
Time is Man
From Stone to Modern age.
This is the abstract span - Time.”
He was ten years old.
The ministry in Sydney was flourishing, with hundreds of people gathering and experiencing the wonderful presence of the Lord and His empowering in their lives. There was a good children’s ministry also flourishing and it was good that David, though he had no friends at school, had good friends there.
Then we, with the leadership team of the ministry, decided to also begin a Bible School and so a property was purchased...a beautiful old colonial house with 29 bedrooms. We called it “The House of Faith.” One of the ministries on the leadership team had a large family. “They need a house more than we do” Paul and I thought. So we decided to sign our house over to them, including the equity of $20,000 it had developed, and to move in to the House of Faith to be with the Bible School students. The house had four levels and we took the lowest one. The students nicknamed it “the dungeon” and it was rather dark and dank but I managed to fix it up to make it “home”.
David and Rebecca thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Bible School. We would all eat together in the Dining Room and the students were great fun for them. I always remember one meal time looking over at Rebecca sitting at one of the tables with students. She was hunched over as she was eating so I called out, as any mother would, “Rebecca, sit up straight!” It was so amusing to see every student in the room suddenly straightened up their backs. We all laughed.
The move to new accommodation also meant a move to a new school as the children, by law, had to go to the closest public school to where they lived. One Sunday afternoon, after the meeting, David came up to me.
“Mum, I need counsel” he said.
“Would you like me to get someone to talk with you” I asked, thinking he might prefer someone other than his mother.
“No” he said “I want you.”
“OK” I said, “when we get home we’ll have a talk.”
That night when I went in to pray with David before he went to sleep we had our talk.
“I feel so ashamed” David began.
“I start at the new school tomorrow and I’m afraid to tell them about Jesus.”
Oh, how my heart went out to him. I knew all he had suffered at his last school because of his witness for the Lord. As a mother I wanted to say “Well don’t say anything” but I knew that would destroy his faith. In my heart I prayed earnestly for wisdom how to answer him. It came. Two scriptures came immediately to mind.
“David, I want to read you something Jesus said.” I opened my Bible and began to read....
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven...”
“Do you know, son, I haven’t been persecuted like you have. You have a greater reward waiting for you in Heaven than I have.”
The reaction on his young face was wonderful to see. The fear and guilt left and tears welled into his eyes ...tears of wonder and joy.
“And I want to give you a promise from the Lord” I went on. “We named you after the David in the Bible. David faced Goliath and you have been facing your Goliath - the persecution you’ve faced - and you have stayed faithful to the Lord. Do you know that the very next verse in the very next chapter after David faced Goliath says“Jonathan became one in spirit with David”(1 Samuel 18:1). I want to tell you tonight, son, because you have been faithful to the Lord as you have faced your Goliath, the Lord is going to give you a ‘Jonathan’ as a best friend.”
The transformation in David was miraculous. He went to his new school the next morning full of joy and anticipation. Each day I would collect the children from the school and David would get into the car and say...
“Guess what? I got persecuted today!”
He would say it with such joy. God had so ministered to his heart he said to me one day:
“Now I believe not just for your sake, Mum, but for mine.”
The trial of his faith had proved the very establishing and strengthening of his faith in the Lord (1 Peter 2:6-9). One day he told me...
“I have a trick question I ask them, Mum. I go and stand next to one of the kids and I say ‘Are you born again?’ And if they say ‘What are you talking about?’ I know they’re not.”
Weeks went by and there was still no sign of David’s “Jonathan” but he continued in his joy and anticipation.
Then one day he jumped into the car excitedly and said,
“Guess what, Mum. I asked a guy today if he was born again and he said ‘Yes’!”
This young boy, by the name of Craig, turned out to be David’s “Jonathan”. He was the son of missionaries in Thailand and was living with his grandparents in Sydney. From then on David and Craig were inseparable. In the years that followed, wherever we travelled and lived the Lord always had a “Jonathan” waiting for David.
During this same period of time I gathered a team of children’s workers with me and we began many “Faith Clubs” for children covering many parts of the North Shore and Northern Beaches of Sydney. We also held children’s seminars to run simultaneously with the adult seminars that Paul and other leaders in the city organized. 500 children gathered for an all-day seminar. It was lots of work but lots of fun. All the Bible School students were involved either as carers of the children (one for ten children - 50 carers in all) or as performers in the plays we staged to present the Gospel. Through these we saw many many children come to the Lord.