WE LEARN OUR FIRST LESSONS! (1954-1955)
by Alison Chant
"Well, Ken and Alison, Ballarat needs a pastor; how would you like to go
Our senior pastor paused to see what effect his words would have on us. Eagerly we
nodded our heads.
"Of course. We're ready whenever you are. We'll go!"
We didn't have to pray about it, because for many months we had been asking God for an
open door. The need was there, we had been looking for a place to go to, we were ready. It
was as simple as that! So for three months we remained in our jobs and travelled by train
seventy-five miles every weekend from Melbourne to Ballarat. After those twelve weeks, the
congregation invited Ken to be their pastor, and we moved into an apartment on Main St.
Ken had studied hard to become an effective pastor, but there were still many things
that only God could teach. True men of God are tutored by the Holy Spirit!
Our first year flew by. Ken took a job in a large department store, selling men's
clothing to take care of our physical needs. Our eldest son, Dale, was born; Ken took his
first funeral; some of our congregation moved away; others came to fill their place. By
the end of the year we had gained seven members - and lost seven! We still had the grand
total of twenty one members! Did we feel we had missed God's guidance? No! We were full of
enthusiasm and zeal, praising God, sure that a remarkable breakthrough was coming.
In the second year, God honoured our confidence. We prayed for the wife of the editor
of our local newspaper, and she received an amazing healing from heart trouble. She proved
to be a born evangelist, and our church began to grow.
OUR FIRST CAR
We walked one day through a local park, enjoying the warmth of a delightful summer day
and the breeze dancing among the leaves of the trees. One of our favourite places was an
old-fashioned glasshouse filled with exotic begonias and marvellous statuary. We arrived
there, and sat on the lawn beside it, soaking up the sunshine, watching our eager little
son chase the birds.
We had come there because we had a problem to discuss and to pray about. Ken was
finding it increasingly difficult to fulfil all his duties as a pastor while having to
rely upon public transport, or his own feet! We were wondering about the possibility of
buying a car - or perhaps I should say more accurately, we were asking ourselves how we
could possibly find the money to buy a car! Ken's wages did not permit such an
extravagance. But perhaps we could "step out in faith" and trust God to meet the
If only we could have looked into the future! This was going to be an opportunity for
us to learn a vital lesson in faith and guidance. We were about to enter blindly the realm
of presumption. Like Abraham of old we would be taught the importance of doing things
Only we didn't know that then!
"There's no doubt about it, we do need a car," I said. "It's getting
difficult to visit people by bus or by walking, especially when you have to continue your
work at the department store."
"Very well, we've established the need, let's pray about it and believe God for a
car," said Ken decisively.
"We don't have enough money to make payments each month," I reasoned.
"There's the rent, food, and clothing bills. We have a child to support now, I don't
see how we can manage the extra expense."
"Just believe, Honey, that's all we have to do. We'll make the down payment, and
then believe God to bring in the needed funds each month."
"Right," I agreed.
It would be such a relief to have a car, especially with the baby. Surely God didn't
want us to have to walk the streets at night, wheeling our baby to meetings in the cold
night air of the coming autumn? Surely he would honour our faith and somehow provide the
extra money we needed?
Yes, God did want us to have a car; he even had one picked out for us, which someone
would freely give us. But we didn't know that then. So we rushed in ahead of God and chose
our own vehicle! It became an expensive lesson, another example of what happens when (like
Abraham) a servant of God becomes impatient and tries to force the Father's hand. Instead
of "Isaac" (the child of promise), "Ishmael" is born, with sorrowful
We made the down payment, and then sat back and waited for God to increase our income
by the needed amount each month. It didn't happen!
We couldn't believe it!
Slowly and painfully we came to the realisation that we had gone ahead of God. This was
not his way. We could not dictate to him, nor tell him how to achieve his goals, nor how
to answer our prayers.
We had to face the humiliation of returning the car to the dealer, and explaining to
him that we couldn't make the payments. Of course we lost our deposit, which was
considerable. Then we had to confess to our church and our friends what had happened.
A few weeks later a friend who was a pastor purchased a new car, and then asked us if
we would like his old one. So we had our car free of charge! It was in this little car,
not very much later, that God was going to teach us another lesson about his guidance and
SAVED BY ANGELS! (1956)
How marvellous it was to have a vehicle at last! We thanked God from our hearts for the
Father's kind provision. Our lesson learned, we threw ourselves with renewed vigour into
the work of the church. By winter we were ready for a vacation. We decided to visit our
parents in Adelaide, 400 miles away.
We drove out of Ballarat along a magnificent memorial avenue of trees, planted by the
relatives of soldiers killed during the war. Our conversation as we began the journey was
again about the puzzling aspects of divine guidance.
"Ken, how can we be sure that we are in the will of God? How can we know that this
trip is his will? Does he expect us to ask him about every little thing, or should we just
live our lives normally, and only ask his guidance for specific things?"
"I asked an older pastor about that very thing recently," Ken began,
"and he gave me an answer I'll never forget. It's like this. You should first pray
and ask for God's guidance, and then simply believe that he has heard your prayer. After
that, it becomes God's task to make sure you are in his will."
"But what if you aren't in his will," I queried.
"Then he will manoeuvre circumstances until you are in his will. Don't you see? So
long as you trust God, the obligation is no longer yours, but his."
Slowly I began to relax as we sped through the vast Australian countryside. I thanked
God for another lesson learned. It was so simple. A concept that would stand us in good
stead in the years to come. No more agonising over whether we were in the will of God,
just a simple prayer of faith -
"Father, we want to be in the centre of your will. So from now on we will simply
trust that we are there. We know that you will then honour our faith and arrange
circumstances to ensure that we do not deviate from your path for us. Amen."
I cuddled my little son in my arms and drifted off to sleep, secure in the knowledge
that God himself was watching over us. He was in control of our lives and he would guide
and direct us, shaping at least the outcome of each event, if not the event itself.
I didn't know it then, but it would not be very long before we would have a terrifying
opportunity to experience this very protection.
A few days after arriving in Adelaide and sharing a joyful reunion with our families,
we decided to take a trip to Victor Harbour. This is a beautiful part of the South
Australian shoreline, and a popular picnic spot.
We expected a time of refreshing in body and spirit.
The air was chilly, but the sky was blue, the sun was brightly shining, and it was a
perfect day for a country drive. So we motored through the hills, revelling in the
glorious views stretched out before us.
The time together at the beach was everything we had hoped for, and when we finally
packed up to return home we were weary but rejuvenated. It had been delightful to play
with our baby son on the beautiful white sands, and to paddle with him in the salt water.
As we travelled through the twisting winding hills on our return journey we noticed a
sign on the side of the road, "STEEP INCLINE AROUND NEXT BEND." Naturally, we
expected to find a sharply rising hill after the next turn in the road. So Ken accelerated
to accommodate the slope. Alas, instead of an upgrade we found to our horror that we were
plunging down a steep decline (not an incline). Our car only had mechanical brakes, and
when the drums were hot after a long trip, as they were now, they did not function very
It all happened so quickly. Afterward Ken told me he was sure we were going to die. He
remembers distinctly crying out, "Lord, here we come!"
We were travelling too fast. We were gaining speed. The brakes were ineffective, and we
could not make the next corner. Instead we would be hurtled into space to smash onto the
valley floor far below.
But God had not finished with us yet! He had other plans for us. Just as the car was
about to go over the edge it stopped! Just like that! We sat there, shaken but alive,
praising God for deliverance from a terrible death.
There was absolutely no natural reason why our car should have halted on the edge of
that cliff. We could only suppose God had intervened in that moment - perhaps by an angel
- to arrest the vehicle. There was no slowing down. One moment we were travelling at high
speed, and the next we had come to an abrupt halt - yet we were not jolted nor hurt in the
We backed up slowly and then, with trembling but thankful hearts, travelled the
remainder of our way home. How grateful we were to the Lord for this sign that we were
indeed in his will and under his protection!
A week later we were to experience yet another instance of God's tender care.
We were travelling back to Ballarat through the Adelaide Hills, and looking forward to
another year of fruitful work for the Lord. Suddenly we saw a car wheel roll past us on
the left. It trundled to a stop and leaned crazily against the fence on the side of the
Meanwhile our car lurched, and we realised with a shock that we had been watching one
of our own back wheels! Ken quickly stopped the car and we tumbled out to assess the
"Thank God it was the back wheel," Ken exclaimed. "Had it been a front
wheel we could have been killed or been the cause of a terrible accident."
We were so young and inexperienced! Did we have any tools, or even a jack? We began to
Just then two policemen in a car pulled up beside us. They had seen the whole thing and
had stopped to help us.
"Do you have any tools?" they asked.
With some embarrassment Ken had to reply, "Well, you see officer, this is our
first car, and we aren't very well equipped yet."
"Let me help," laughed the policeman. He got out his wheel jack and tools,
and in no time had our wheel back on. Then he gave us a lesson in mechanics. He tightened
the nuts on all the other wheels, while patiently explaining that it is a good idea,
before starting on a long journey, to check your wheels - especially on a car built in
Feeling a little foolish, we thanked the two officers heartily, and continued on our
way. We praised God that a rear wheel, and not one of our front ones, had come off first.
We thanked God also for an understanding policeman with a sense of humour.
"I wonder, did you arrange to have him ride behind us Lord, or was it just a
SORROW TURNED TO JOY! (1955-1970)
Something was seriously wrong! Ken and I had always wanted a large family. During our
courtship we had joked about having twelve children after our marriage, and had both
eagerly looked forward to lots of babies.
We had one dear little son, but he was growing older and we wanted to give him a
brother or sister to enjoy.
Tragedy struck! I became pregnant only to lose the baby at two months. Later I became
pregnant again only to lose yet another child.
Looking back now over the years I can recognise the deep work done in us by these
happenings. But then I could not see the coming heartbreak, nor the overwhelming joy of
God's final triumph over all our despair. I know why God will not let us look too far
ahead: we could not bear the knowledge!
I can also see how the Father uses tragedy to build character, compassion, and
toughness of spirit into his people. His goal is to refine and mould them into strong men
and women of God.
He does not personally send illness or accident. These are just part of life. But he
does use them. Nothing is wasted. The Lord weaves every thread of experience into the
fabric of our personality as we learn to yield ourselves to him and to rely on him
My doctor discovered I had some small fibroid tumours and he wanted to operate, but I
refused. I preferred to believe God for my healing and began to fast and pray.
God has healed my body and met our physical needs often, each in a new and different
I felt wonderful after my fast, and had boundless energy. Scriptures filled my mind, I
allowed no negative thoughts to enter. Life was good. Nine months later I learned that God
had answered prayer, and that the tumours had disappeared. But by then it didn't seem to
matter very much. A new sorrow had fallen upon us, casting a bleak shadow over our
happiness. Our home would never be the same again.
GAVIN IS BORN, AND DIES (1957-1961)
We had left our first church in Ballarat and moved to a young church in Springvale, a
hundred miles away. There, on the second of November, I gave birth by caesarian section to
a dear little four-and-a-half pound baby boy. He was with us just two days. On the fourth
of November he went to be with Jesus. Heaven will always seem very near to us because one
of our little ones is there waiting for us. We named him Gavin James and laid him to rest
in a tiny suburban Anglican Church cemetery.
Little Gavin's life was so brief because of a condition called placentia praevia. I had
lost part of the placenta at six months and then he had been born by caesarian section at
seven and a half months. He was terribly bruised, and died two days later.
We were devastated. As I lay there in hospital, all I could say was "Why, Lord,
why did you allow this to happen to us?"
Ken tried to comfort me.
"I don't know why, but I do know this," he said, "one day God will
Clinging to this thought brought comfort to me over the next painful weeks and months.
"God, my little one will never know the joys of this life. He will never be able
to play ball, or eat chocolate, or gambol in the waves of the sea. He will never laugh and
play with his older brother."
"Neither will he have to experience any sorrow," was the gentle reply.
Each time I closed my eyes I was given a picture of Jesus holding my little baby close
in his arms. He seemed to say that baby Gavin was safe with him; and with that I must be
One day, lying on my hospital bed, I watched two little sparrows flirting, their tails
bobbing, and twittering happily as they gathered material for their nest.
"Life goes on," I thought. "How good God is to give me this message
through two of his smallest and humblest creatures.".
SHARON IS BORN
If Ken and I could have seen into the future during those dark days, we would have been
consoled. God would recompense us for the suffering we were going through. He was to grant
us not only a darling daughter, but two more precious sons to give us much happiness.
Before then, however, we had to work through a great test of our faith and to gain an
enormous victory for the Lord. It would be a vindication of God's healing power, which he
would allow us to take around the world. Through this testimony many other couples,
yearning for children, would find faith to have their prayers answered by God.
You will find that story in a later Interlude; but meanwhile, I needed a period of
healing and recuperation. The doctor assured me I had no tumours. The reason for my
miscarriages was still a mystery to him.
During the following year I built up my strength. We also moved to Adelaide, where Ken
was asked to become an assistant pastor in our home church, under Pastor Leo Harris.
Finally, when Dale was five and a half years of age, we were able to place in his arms
a little sister, Sharon Elizabeth Rae. As I write, she is serving God, with her husband
Pastor David Jones, in San Diego, USA. To bear her I had to remain bedfast for seven
months (from when I was six weeks pregnant until she was born at eight and a half months).
Many times it seemed we would lose her, but always God intervened, and at last she was
The mystery of my miscarriages was also revealed. I had RH-negative blood and had built
up antibodies against my babies. Sharon had to have her blood exchanged when she was two
days of age. After that all was well. We were happy and contented. Our little family was
THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THE RESCUE!
A lady called the church office, requesting a pastoral visit. At first Ken said that he
would go, but after hanging up the phone hefelt a check in his spirit. So he asked another
pastor, who was already planning to take his wife out for the evening, to go in his place.
The two of them agreed to visit the lady briefly on the way to their dinner engagement.
When the couple arrived at the woman's house they walked together to the door and rang
the bell. She was, of course, expecting Ken. As soon as the bell rang, she flung open the
door and stood there - stark naked! Quickly the pastor's wife pushed her inside, slammed
the front door on her husband, hurried the lady into a bedroom, wrapped her in a blanket,
and proceeded to give her a lecture she would never forget!
How thankful Ken was when he heard what had happened. God had given him extraordinary
guidance, prompting him in his spirit not to visit his parishioner that night. What if Ken
had not listened? Even had he resisted the wiles of the naked lady, she had only to call
out and his ministry would have been ruined. Who would have believed him? It would have
been his word against hers. He was only twenty-seven, and she was a beautiful young woman.
Some time later we realised how driven she had been by Satan, for she had a complete
mental breakdown, and had to be hospitalised. But the Father showed her mercy. She
regained her health, both mentally and spiritually, and eventually came back to the
AN AMAZING MIRACLE!
"Barry, I really don't think you should ride your motor-bike today," I
cautioned. "You have had a fever for three days and have taken nothing but liquids.
Surely it would be wiser to stay home this Sunday?"
But Ken's younger brother Barry was both devout and zealous. Insisting he would be
fine, he climbed on his bike and roared off to church.
We had moved to Adelaide from Ballarat, and this was our first year working under
Pastor Leo Harris. Barry was living with us, while he attended university.
After Barry had ridden away, we left for church in our car, arrived there, and the
service began. Suddenly, two policemen appeared at the door. They had come to report a
terrible accident. Barry had blacked out as he was travelling down the road, his motor
bike had run into a telephone pole, and he was in hospital with multiple injuries. The
doctors did not expect him to live through the night.
Ken and I were rushed to the hospital to sign the necessary permission forms, and the
surgeons began the task of putting Barry back together. His spleen was pulverised and had
to be removed; he had broken vertebrae, a broken arm, his kidneys were damaged, along with
other injuries, and of course he was still weak from the fever he had had for the past few
Against expectation, and - we believe - in answer to prayer, he survived through the
night. The surgeon said, if Barry had not been a clean-living young man he could not have
I don't have space here to tell the full story, and will have to be content with saying
that God gave Barry an astonishing miracle. One result of the accident was to kill the
nerves in his upper arm, which shrivelled the muscles, and made his arm useless. The
specialist said he would never be able to move it again from the shoulder. Within three
months Barry was back at university, his arm revitalised and functioning fully, his other
injuries healed, his health and strength restored! There was no other explanation: God had
marvelously answered prayer!
While Barry was in hospital the Lord gave me a dream. It was so vivid, I can still
remember it perfectly after 30 years. I saw Barry married to his fiancee, Vanessa, and she
was serving dinner to her family. Three children were seated at the table with them. I
took particular note that there were three children, and that two were aged about 12,
while the third was much younger, still in a high chair.
I interpreted this dream as a comforting message from the Lord for Vanessa that Barry
would recover. She had been suffering great agonies of spirit as Barry was struggling for
his life in hospital. My dream showed that he and Vanessa would marry, and they would have
three children. Fifteen years later the Lord brought this dream to my remembrance, and I
realised how accurate it had been. They do have three children, two of whom were born
early in their marriage, and the third some ten years later. Now of course the older
children have married and have children of their own.
My pregnancy with Sharon occurred during a difficult time in Ken's ministry. Pastor Leo
Harris, our senior pastor, had many invitations to preach all over the USA. He decided to
accept them, and with his wife Belle, and their daughter Cherith, set the date for their
We disclosed the news of my pregnancy, which was already proving to be a difficult one,
but after some discussion we all decided that Leo and Belle should go ahead with their
plans. We agreed to trust the Lord for my baby to be born normally. Knowing that they were
praying earnestly for us, and that everywhere they ministered in the USA others would also
seek the Lord on our behalf, was a great comfort to me as the trying months progressed.
The church, about 500 strong, was left in Ken's hands. He was 27 years old. Added to
the church was a Bible college, a widely circulated magazine, and a nation-wide radio
network. Even with a strong team of dedicated men to help him, it was a daunting task.
Half-way through the year, when the Harrises had been gone about 6 months, Ken began to
undergo a severe trial. He felt he could not burden me with it because of my pregnancy, so
he battled it alone.
The test was this: his faith gave way, and he no longer believed in anything! Nothing
had any meaning for him. He could not feel a particle of assurance! He reached out for
God, and could not touch him! The sky was like brass above him and the earth as iron
beneath his feet. Yet he continued preaching, praying for the people, teaching in the
Bible college, publishing the magazine, speaking on radio, and running the church.
He knew instinctively that if he continued to do the work he'd been called to do that
eventually he would come through and regain his faith. So despite the dark shadow that was
on his spirit, he persevered in prayer and ministry.
For three months he suffered, until finally God lifted the veil and he could see again
with the eye of faith. Now followed a series of miracles that were many and diverse in
nature: blind and deaf people were cured through prayer; some people with cancer were made
whole; other illnesses were overcome; and we had the ongoing miracle of the baby in my
womb being preserved month after month, despite the complication of my RH-negative blood!
Ken had not prayed for this breakthrough; it came unsought because he stuck steadfastly
to the principle of believing that he was in the centre of God's will. The Father then had
to get him there and keep him there!
When the Harrises returned we were able to share with them the great things the Lord
had done. We were glad to hand back to them a church that had grown in numbers, and we
rejoiced together in our God, who is always there, and who does all things well.
WE MOVE TO TASMANIA (1963-1978)
After five years in Adelaide we decided to move to Launceston in Tasmania, once again
following the call in answer to a need! There was a small church in Launceston, needing a
pastor, and we were ready to go. We did not know it at the time, but here God would teach
us some vital lessons in faith, and by assimilating those lessons we would gain two
After we had been in Tasmania for some time I began to feel the urge to become a mother
again. It was an enormously strong desire, and we began to pray about it. On the surface
it seemed madness to attempt another pregnancy. I had spent so much time in bed, and had
suffered so much to have Sharon, and now had two children to look after as well as a busy
But I did become pregnant again, only to lose yet another child, once again at two
This time the doctor told me that from now on all my babies would terminate at two
months. I had too many antibodies to bear a child, and in those days no one knew how to
overcome this problem.
Ken and I spent some time talking this over. How could we continue to preach that Jesus
was the healer if we could not have any more babies? If I hadn't wanted a baby there would
be no problem; but I did! The God who gave me the yearning to have more children, and who
allowed me to become pregnant, surely could work a miracle and help me to overcome this
difficulty in my body.
I reasoned this way. If God didn't want me to have any more babies, all he would have
to do would be to close up my womb as he had with Rachel in Old Testament times. Since he
hadn't done that, but had allowed me to get pregnant, to me was sure proof he would help
me. He who had given me the desire for motherhood would also give me the baby I wanted so
Despite these rationalisations, I wasn't going to rush in and conceive again without a
definite word from God. Not only was there a strong probability of another miscarriage,
but now (said the obstetrician) my own life was at risk. I might die myself if I tried to
have another baby! What I needed was the faith of God, an unwavering certainty that he was
with me, and that I had nothing to fear in attempting another pregnancy.
Finally after much prayer I said to Ken, "If I discover another couple who have
had a similar problem, and it is established that God intervened in their life, granting
them a baby, then I will go ahead."
We continued to pray. Some time passed. One day in the mail we received a magazine from
the USA. In it was this testimony from an American physician, Dr William Standish-Reed:
QUESTION: My wife and I have an RH incompatibility. As a result, my wife has lost her
last two children by miscarriages. Do you believe that we can hope to have children? Or
should my wife or I have an operation to prevent any further conception?
ANSWER: A very dear friend of mine, a minister, at one time had this same problem. When
his wife again conceived they faced long months of anxiety, wondering whether they would
have a normal child, or even if she would be able to carry the pregnancy through to its
entirety. At that time I had been studying the church's ministry of healing. I advised the
minister to lay hands on his wife daily, and pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, asking
God to allow her to have a normal pregnancy and a normal child. ... It is my feeling that
a pregnancy carried through with husband and wife praying together would produce wonderful
results. The minister's wife had a normal child. Only God knows how he could "juggle
the genes" to cause such a result.
We were overjoyed! Here was the guidance for which we had been asking. We set ourselves
to pray for each other. Every night Ken laid his hands on me and prayed for me; then I
would pray for him. This seemed so right to us. God had answered our prayer and given us
specific instructions through a medical doctor, which gave us the extra confidence we
needed. For us, it was like another verse added to the Bible; a promise of healing with
our names on it! God would do for us what he had done for others!
After some months I became aware that I had conceived again. I was excited, though a
little apprehensive. I rang my doctor and she was horrified, despite my assurance to her
that this time all would be well. She examined me, and to my astonishment told me that I
was already three months pregnant. She took some blood from me and had it tested. I still
had my antibodies but they were not harming the baby. She took some of Ken's blood, it had
In fact, nothing had changed! Except that against all probability I was having a
successful pregnancy, with no sign of losing the baby! She kept asking me what we had
done, and I kept telling her that we had prayed about it, and God was giving us a miracle
She was a Christian doctor, so she had to accept what was happening; even though, as
far as she knew at that time, it was not possible. Later on we were to discover that God
had intervened to "juggle our genes" and to give us an RH-negative baby.
In due time, and without being obliged to spend even one day in bed, I gave birth to
our second son, Eric, who is now 25 years of age, and happily married to Julie. Together
they have given us two delightful granddaughters!
While in hospital I spoke to my paediatrician, who was caring for Eric, and I asked
him, "Doctor, do you understand how this could have happened?"
He admitted that he did not know, but he did give me a warning. "This was a one in
a million chance. Don't try to do it again. It won't work another time."
God must have heard him and decided to do it again! Four years later our third son,
Baden, was born. He is now 20 years of age and is a joy to us and a constant reminder that
God can repeat his miracles whenever he pleases!
Now we were able to rejoice in our God who does all things well. Ken began to pray for
others who had a desperate longing to bear children, but who for some reason were unable
to conceive. There are many such testimonies, but the one I will share with you happened
in Perth, Western Australia. Ken was preaching in a church there and had a sudden insight,
a "word of knowledge", that there were two women in the congregation who wanted
a child but were unable to conceive. Two young ladies came forward, weeping; one had been
married six years, and the other eight years. God had cared for them enough to reveal
their deep longing to a visiting preacher!
Ken prayed for them and then left Perth to return home. Ten months later we received a
letter from their pastor. They had both had baby girls. One after nine months and one
week, and the other after nine months and two weeks!
Why was God teaching us such mighty lessons of faith?. Looking back, we can see that
God was growing a teacher! It takes perhaps only five or ten minutes to grow an
evangelist. Anyone who has been saved can become a soul-winner, burning to tell others
about Jesus; but it takes God 20 years to prepare a teacher.
GUIDANCE FROM ACROSS THE PACIFIC! (1974)
The phone rang. It was after midnight and Ken dragged himself reluctantly out of bed.
An excited voice came over the wire. It was our good friend Peter Vacca, calling from 600
miles away. He had been praying and had seen a vision of a map of the world with a light
glowing in our city of Launceston. As he watched, the light spread all over Australia,
then across to New Zealand, and then around the world.
Peter was so impressed and stirred by his vision that he had to ring us and let us
know. Could we explain what it meant? Ken and I werdn't sure, but we said we would
certainly pray about it.
Around this same time, one of the ladies from our church travelled across to Perth, and
while there she heard a prophecy that a tree would grow out of Launceston, and its
branches would spread over Australia, then across to New Zealand, and on around the world.
A remarkably similar prophecy! But some months would pass before we could understand what
God was saying to us.
For twelve years we had laboured in Tasmania, and through this period God had blessed
us with great miracles. Many people had found healing in Jesus' name, our own congregation
was growing, and we had helped establish four other churches. They had been years of
laughter and tears, sunshine and sadness, happiness and frustration. There had been both
defeats and triumphs. Much had been done, but Ken was troubled by a feeling that he had
not fulfilled the purpose of God.
I believe the Lord himself caused this, for it made Ken seek God earnestly about what
his future should be. God denied him complete satisfaction in local church ministry,
because he wanted to draw him into a special path, a hard path, and one that would take
Ken became sure that God wanted to speak to him, to direct him in some way, and that he
would find the answer in the USA. I was not fully aware of all that my husband was going
through, but I knew he was struggling and needed encouragement. When he mentioned that he
wanted to go to America, I knew at once this was from God. For both of us this was
unusual. It was a dramatic departure from our normal way of understanding God's will. Why
go to the USA? Couldn't the Lord speak in Australia? Yet we both knew this decision came
Even then, it was only by a series of miracles Ken ever got to America. Perhaps Satan
was standing against him, sensing that this was a turning point in our lives. Perhaps the
Enemy knew that something would come from this trip that would help in building God's
kingdom. So we had to contend with opposition from people, a lost visa that turned up at
the last moment on a plane that was not scheduled to fly, a pilot's strike, and many other
irritations from the enemy. Or perhaps they were from God, once more testing our faith?
My experience and Ken's in guidance had been fairly uniform until now. When we needed
to know God's will we spent some time reviewing the situation and writing down the facts.
Then we would make a reasonable decision based on those facts, using scripture and the
wisdom God had planted in us over the years.
This time God spoke to Ken so differently that he was not able to accept it fully for a
long time, not until it began to come to pass.
When he arrived in the USA, he was ready to give up full-time ministry. He had given
the Lord 20 years of his life, and though God had been very gracious and taught him many
things, he was deeply dissatisfied, feeling that something vital was lacking from his
life. Perhaps it was time to find a new way to serve the Lord?
But what did God want him to do? How would those prophecies about the light and the
tree be fulfilled? He was perplexed and unsure, yet still hopeful that during his time in
America the Lord would give him insight, and enable him to make a decision. Did God want
him to write the books he felt he should write? Did it matter? Was it important to God?
His first stop was a church in Anaheim. He had no sooner sat down and begun to look
around him than the Lord electrified him with these words, given by prophecy from the
pastor who was leading the meeting that morning -
"There is a preacher here who is thinking of leaving the full-time ministry. If
you do that, it will be a very costly mistake. God has called you and still has a work for
you to do. The Lord forbids you to go back into secular business."
Since Ken had been contemplating buying a small business in Australia, he had no doubt
this warning was directed at him! So here was something different from the usual silent
prompting of the Holy Spirit!
After the meeting, still a little stunned, Ken met for the first time a man called Dick
Mills. They arranged to have breakfast together the next day, and in the meantime, Ken
busied himself sightseeing with some friends. The morning's warning faded a little in his
mind. Perhaps it had only been a coincidence?
Next day, he and Dick Mills met for breakfast; but they had no sooner begun to eat than
Dick laid down his knife and fork and began to prophesy. The things he said astonished
Ken, private things that Dick had no natural way of knowing, matters Ken had not shared
even with me. No one knew them but God and Ken - and now Dick!
One of the many things Dick told Ken, was that God did indeed want him to go ahead and
write the books he felt compelled to write. Further, Dick decided to encourage Ken in his
desire to write. He offered to help by buying some reference books Ken needed. The cost
was around $200, a considerable sum in 1974.
Dick did not have the money, but he ordered the books, trusting that God would provide.
The next day as he was walking down the street a man stopped him. "Hello Dick",
he said, "I would like to pay back the $200 I have owed you for some time." It
certainly was a long time, so long that Dick had forgotten the debt! He rejoiced, both for
himself and for Ken, at this confirmation of God's leading.
So Ken returned to Australia with a pile of new books, and a clear direction
established for his future ministry.
AN ADVENTURE FOR GOD!
(Sydney & the USA, 1978-1982)
Our Bible Correspondence Course was born in 1974. We began with nothing, no money, no
equipment, but with a group of wonderful people, our friends in Launceston, who were
willing to stand with us, work hard, and sacrifice to make our vision possible. As each
new book was written our student body grew, until now the books have gone into 25
different countries, several of them have been translated into other languages, and
thousands of people have been taught and enriched by them.
The visions of the light and the tree are still being fulfilled! However, while the
programme was born in Launceston, four years later the Lord showed us that the time had
come to move into a larger sphere. The word from God came while Ken was attending a
conference in Singapore. He felt the Lord was telling him to move to Sydney, and to join
Vision Ministries, under the direction of Alan Langstaff.
Meanwhile, at home during my quiet time, God had directed me to a verse in Genesis
(28:15), "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou
goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have
done that which I have spoken of." I underlined this verse, not realising then its
significance, but knowing the Lord had a message in it just for me.
When Ken arrived home from Singapore, the Lord quickened the verse to me again, and I
went to look it up. I had no doubt the Father was leading us, and the time had come to
move. So we shifted house to Sydney, and we both joined the staff of Vision Ministries.
Ken also was appointed president of Vision Bible College. The correspondence course
continued to expand steadily.
WE MOVE TO AMERICA
Less than two years after we arrived in Sydney, Alan and Dorothy Langstaff, with their
children, moved to Minneapolis in the USA. Their goal was to expand Vision Ministries
internationally. They invited us to join with them, saying that our correspondence course
was needed there. Several American friends had also urged us to do this, because of the
lack of a similar programme in their country.
"Come on Mum, let's go. It'll be fun," clamoured the children.
My husband looked at me across their heads.
"It's your decision, Honey. I think we should go, but I'll wait until you feel
When any momentous decision had to be made concerning our family, Ken would just wait
patiently, either until I agreed with him, or we both decided to drop the idea. He knew
that if the decision he had made was God's leading, then God would also show me.
My spirit was in turmoil. How could I feel good about leaving my country, my oldest
son, my parents, and the rest of my family, to go to the USA, perhaps for many years,
perhaps for ever!
Our daughter Sharon was 20 years of age; what if she decided to marry in the USA? What
of our sons, Eric and Baden, their education, their future? For days and nights I walked
up and down my living room, pleading with the Lord to show me his will.
One morning I left my bed early, agitated, and unable to sleep. I was kneeling in the
living room of our home in Lillee Pillee, exhausted from grappling with the thoughts that
continually tumbled through my mind. In the still quietness of the early morning God spoke
to my heart. His voice was unmistakable, and so reasonable, so reassuring.
"You are trying to look too far ahead. Don't look ahead twenty years but just two
years. I promise you that after two years you will either be coming home, or you will want
Enormous relief filled my heart! All my burden and anxiety vanished. Two years would be
fun, an adventure to be enjoyed, not an imposition to be endured. I woke Ken and told him
what had happened, and he rejoiced with me at this unusual answer to my prayer.
Over the next few weeks we said a sad farewell to our son, Dale, who was still pursuing
his Ph.D. at Monash university, and to our family and friends in Australia.
We didn't take much with us - Ken's books, some blankets, our clothing, and some
silverware. Almost everything else we gave away.
Five days after our arrival in the USA, Eric became violently ill. We had noticed that
he was not his usual brisk and happy self, but had thought this was a natural reaction to
leaving his friends. Throughout the night his condition deteriorated until, in the early
morning, we had no alternative but to contact a doctor. The verdict was immediate. Eric
was not even permitted to return for his toothbrush. Instead he was rushed into emergency
for an operation to remove his appendix!
Piling poverty on misery we discovered that, for the first time in Ken's frequent trips
overseas, no traveller's insurance had been taken out for us. This meant that only the
amount covered by our Australian medical insurance was at our disposal. The difference was
Right about now several people might question our trip to the USA, but I knew God had
spoken to me, so we were not crushed. In fact this incident opened up the hearts of the
American people to us in an exceptional way. We were given the loan of a car, and on our
finding a suitable house, they showed their generosity by giving us the furniture we
needed to set up our home. From several different people the money was given to us to pay
Eric's medical bill. The Lord had turned a potential tragedy into a triumph!
PERILS IN A STRANGE LAND
Just two months after our arrival in the USA, and shortly after settling into our new
home, Sharon and I drive Ken to the airport. He had to fly to Singapore to teach for two
weeks at a Bible School.
By this time we had bought a second-hand Oldsmobile, and Sharon had mastered driving on
the right hand side of the road. She felt confident that she could find her way home after
saying our goodbyes to Ken at the terminal. I did not feel competent as yet to drive, so I
gladly yielded her the wheel. (In fact, two years passed before I grew brave enough for
the freeways. Due to some strange proclivity, as a left-hander I continually mistake my
right hand for my left!)
So Sharon took over, and soon she and I were on our way home. Only a mile down the road
the dashboard light warned us the engine was running hot. We pulled in to the nearest
service station. In our innocence we did not realise that this was just a gas station
without a competent mechanic. We asked for help and the attendant lifted the bonnet and
began to unscrew the radiator. Even I knew that was not wise! The cap shot into the air,
and because of a slight tilt in my direction the contents hit me in the face. Hot water
mixed with anti-freeze is not the nicest combination to strike face and hair! Soaking, my
eyes filled with the solution, I staggered to the ladies room and washed myself. Worse was
The gas attendant filled up the car radiator again and insisted that we would have no
more trouble. We drove off obediently, but barely a mile down the road the red light
blinked again, and we knew that we would have to get help.
Panic seized me as we drove off the freeway. This was unfamiliar territory. The street
seemed poor and unkempt. My memory began to stir with accounts of robberies and murders.
The people all around us seemed unfriendly. We parked the car and I made Sharon lock
herself in while I attempted to find someone to rescue us. I walked nervously down the
street - remember I am an Australian, and I had read some lurid tales about America! I was
convinced that everyone carried a gun, and would need little excuse to use it!
Finally I reached a service station and asked to use the telephone. Imagine my horror
when I opened the phone book and found not one of the people I knew listed. We lived in
the Minneapolis part of the Twin Cities and we had driven into St. Paul. The people I knew
were all in Minneapolis, and the service station had no telephone book for that city. Wet
and cold from my dowsing, miserable and afraid, I cried out to God. Immediately he
reminded me that only the Sunday before we had met a friendly couple from Texas, and they
had given me their phone number.
"If we can be of any help, then let us know."
Those were the words that rang in my ears. Of course, they lived in St. Paul! Quickly I
pulled out my pocket diary and found the phone number, my voice a little wobbly by this
Later, at home, showered and warm, I thanked God for his thoughtful provision. Of
course I thanked my Texan friends as well. They were truly used by God to rescue this
timid Australian from her difficulty.
MORE PRAYERS ANSWERED (1981-1986)
A week later, while Ken was still in Singapore, I became extremely ill with a
haemorrhage. When it had not stopped after three weeks, Sharon telephoned the doctor. He
advised her, if the bleeding continued beyond another hour, she should bring me into
Emergency. Instead, she decided to call a Christian friend, Dorothy Langstaff. God heard
our prayers, and half an hour later the haemorrhage suddenly ended!
Ken's return from Singapore was a time of great rejoicing. We were about to experience
our first Minneapolis winter, and it was good to know the head of the house was home. Our
initiation into the mysteries of snow, icy roads, and frozen pipes was to begin with the
worst winter Minnesota had suffered in 100 years!
One night Sharon went out to take a friend home. Because the car was warm, she
neglected to take any heavy clothing with her. On her return journey she became lost in a
fog. Unless she found a service station soon she would run out of fuel and maybe freeze to
death by the side of the road. She prayed for guidance as she drove slowly along. Almost
immediately she saw a gas station, and was able to fill up and return home safely. In our
ignorance of the danger we had not been alarmed by her late arrival, but we praised God
that we had taught our daughter to pray and seek guidance from him.
Since our arrival in the USA, six months earlier, three of us had faced a threat of
death, and more was to come. Why was God allowing these things to happen?
I walked into our office one afternoon to find Ken in excruciating pain. He was doubled
over and the perspiration was streaming down his face. I touched his forehead and it was
cold, then almost at once he became extremely hot. "What is it," I cried.
"I've been having these bouts of pain for some time. I'm not sure what they
are," he whispered.
"You must go to the doctor and have a check up. You owe it to your family!" I
argued. It was frightening to see my strong husband in such pain. We prayed together and
then made an appointment for him to see a physician.
The doctor's verdict was that the pain was caused either by cancer, gall stones, or an
aneurism. A day was set for an x-ray. Meantime Ken was prayed for by two of his friends,
Pastor Alan Langstaff and Pastor Rod Lensch. They agreed together that whatever was
causing the pain would be healed. I was still full of apprehension. What would I do if Ken
were to die? I prayed earnestly, but my mind was in a ferment. I could get no peace. God
was unable to speak to me because I was unable to hear his voice. Then one morning, very
early, I woke suddenly. This verse of scripture came into my mind, and I knew immediately
that God was speaking to me - "With long life will I satisfy him and show him my
salvation" (Psalm 91:16).
Immediately I knew Ken would live, that whatever had gripped him was undone. I had been
given the faith of God which nothing can shake!
Ken went in for his x-rays and the doctor was amazed, he could find nothing wrong.
Quickly he took another x-ray and once again it showed nothing. This occurred nine years
ago and he has had no more trouble since then.
LEARNING GOD'S PURPOSE
Now we had to face the fact that four of the family had had life threatening
experiences in our first year in America. Why had this happened to us? Had we missed God's
guidance? As we pondered the matter, we remembered that during our three years in Sydney
we had not had to believe God for anything. Everything had come easily to us; consequently
our "faith muscles" had grown very feeble. We could see plainly that God had now
put us through a crash course. He needed to have us tough, and resilient in faith, not
flaccid and weak. He had brought us through, as he always does when we trust him totally
to keep us in his will.
The end of the two years arrived and, true to his word, the Lord gave us the
opportunity to return to Australia. By that time however I was happy to stay. I realised
that we had only begun to scratch the surface of the work that we had to do in upgrading
and reediting the correspondence course for the American market.
Seven more years were to go by before we were to return to Australia, and before the
last part of the verse God had given me in Tasmania was to be fulfilled. But that is
another story, an unfinished one! God is in control and that is all we need to know.
BACK TO AUSTRALIA! (1990 - )
"God, please tell us what to do and we'll do it. Whatever it is!"
This was an exasperated cry from the bottom of my heart. I was truly frustrated and
It was around July 1989. For months we had been praying for guidance as to what God
wanted us to do next. Our house was on the market but not selling. Ministry opportunities
had dried up. We felt as though we were in a cocoon of silence. We couldn't reach others
and they were, seemingly, ignoring us.
Pastors and churches which normally were only too eager for Ken's ministry were
strangely silent. We waited on God. Weeks went by, finally, in sheer frustration I decided
to get a nursing job, which I did.
More time elapsed.
Meanwhile, Ken finished writing his book, "When the Trumpet Sounds" and began
writing a book on guidance - this book, "Discovery".
How did we get ourselves into this position? We had resigned from our church in San
Diego, feeling our time there was ended. We had been confident that we would receive
plenty of itinerant ministry to keep us going. But, nothing, silence from everyone, and
what was far worse, silence from God.
Every other time in our lives we had been fully confident of our next step but this
time, NOTHING! Hence my cry, "Tell us what to do!"
Then in September I received word that my mother had had a stroke, and of course I made
plans to visit her in Australia. While there, I was amazed at the number of pastors and
leaders who were anxious for Ken to return to Australia. We had thought there was no place
for us in Australia; because we had been gone so long, we were no longer needed. I
mentioned this to Ken on the telephone and he prayed about it and after a week of waiting
on God, made the decision to return.
After nine months of stagnation as far as selling our house was concerned, that very
week we had a buyer who made us an acceptable offer on the house.
Was God waiting for us to make the decision to return to Australia? Had he shown us
that is what he wanted but we hadn't listened?
Whatever the reason, the experience certainly gave us some new views on guidance, which
have become a great blessing to many people.
Is it possible that God was giving us the option to stay in U.S.A. or leave for
Australia? Perhaps he was; but I think he did want us to return to Australia for three
first: he had given me a scripture years before that we would return to our homeland.
second: he had caused ministry to dry up for us in the U.S.A. (Invitations to return to
the U.S.A. began to come in immediately we returned to Australia. If we had had those
invitations before we left we would have stayed in the U.S.A.). And
third: God opened up the hearts of the people of Penrith Christian Fellowship Centre to
take care of us. Without their invitation and offer of housing and transport we could not
have returned to Australia.
So we came back to our home country early in 1990. Since then, new ministry
opportunities have opened to us abundantly, both in Australia and overseas. Indeed, we
have never before enjoyed ministry so much as we are now, nor has our ministry together
ever been more fruitful. So in the end the guiding hand of our Lord proved sure and
certain. As David discovered, the Shepherd's way may sometimes lead into a dark and dismal
valley, in which death threatens, but he will never abandon us there to perish. Rather,
his rod and staff retain firm control, and with sure steps he brings his sheep through the
valley, into his promised pasture.
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