A forty year spiritual journey that has only just begun, as I look towards the promised land (214)
If you are going to do something in life, do it with all your heart.
I felt the call to be an Evangelist when I was twenty years old, meaning, if I believed it, the whole world needs to know about it. I haven’t turned my back on my calling ever since.
I do wish my whole spiritual journey was as simple, radical and enjoyable as my street outreach days. I can honestly say, I’ve experienced triumphs so great, no amount of accolades could compare with the harmony I felt with my creator. I have also gone through deep dark valleys filled with such shame, I barely believed I’d be here today to share my fortieth spiritual birthday this coming Sunday on 18th July 2021.
Forty years ago on a Saturday night, 18th July 1981 I attended a Christian Rock Concert in Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia.
The months preceding this concert, I was grappling with the notion of God and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. There was no real catalyst to be thinking such big things, I was only seventeen years old and had a great life to that point.
If I described my upbringing, most would consider it dysfunctional. If I were to compare it to the modern world of convenience, ease of movement and freedom of choice, my upbringing was far from normal.
My father can only be described as a bohemian gangster. He was a son of an aggressive alcoholic. He spent his teens in a German concentration camp in WW2, fought in a civil war in Greece and Korea. Eight years of war from age thirteen to twenty one. Toughest man I’ve ever met who had a huge influence in my life. He encouraged hustling and would laugh about anything, he had an incredible sense of humour. He definitely didn’t encourage seeking spirituality. In fact when I made the decision to go to church each week and devoted my life to Jesus, he threatened to blow the church up. But one thing is for sure, I knew he loved me, I was his champion.
My mother was a strong stoic woman who’s name and reputation meant everything. How she ended up with a gangster like dad is anyone’s guess. She was extreme when it came to ethics. Hard work and family was everything to her. I know she also had a tremendous impact in my life. My wife of thirty five years is in many ways just like mum when it comes to integrity and hard work. Mum was deeply religious and uneducated but wiser than many of the academics I’ve met throughout my life. Perhaps she impacted my beliefs and openness to God. Like my dad, I knew she loved me, I was her golden boy.
All I know is, mum prayed openly and dad didn’t.
Both parents did their best with what they had, like most parents. Flying furniture around the house was not out of the question when mum and dad argued. For me, this was normal. I’ve laughed about dad’s aggression my whole life, perhaps that says a lot about my quirky sense of humour and my way of coping.
If dad felt cornered, he fixed everything by acts of violence or the threat of violence, so it wasn’t too hard to obey him. Mum was frugal with money, making the most out of our mega existence. I never felt that I missed out on anything and learned early in life to work hard and stick up for myself.
My parents were brilliant mentors and to this day I honour them for their contribution in my life.
With parents like mine, there was no way my life would be anything but insane and adventurous. Maybe God gave me them to prep me for my extraordinary life.
Back to 1981, that Christian Rock Concert in Mt Lawley. There would have been about a hundred young people from all walks of life there. X drug addicts, hippies, reformed alcoholics and a few half normal teenagers like me.
I heard a simple and authentic gospel message that night through the music and drama. I loved the energy in that room, these young Christians felt they could change the world and I wanted to be in on it.
I devoted my life to God’s service that night and was completely ignorant of the journey that would take me. I was born into a Greek Orthodox home, that was not my choice; but when I was seventeen years of age I made a conscious decision to follow the Christian path and make Jesus my Lord and Saviour. This was my choice. I’ve been mocked mercilessly over the years for believing so strongly, by my peers, family and others who didn’t even know me. I’ve also been blessed in ways I couldn’t describe seeing others experience the same hope that I have through my beliefs.
Being mocked never made me a victim, it simply solidified my convictions and faith even further. Thank God for mockers.
Forty years later in a brief reflection, I’ve travelled extensively, preaching in over one hundred communities, throughout Australia and many parts of the world.
My wife, family and I have had the privilege of helping innumerable people over the years through a simple message of hope.
From street outreach, itinerant preacher to the corporate world of property, construction and commerce, it’s been an amazing journey.
Like the children of Israel who went around the mountain more times than they should’ve, I to have gone round in circles some years just wasting time and energy worrying what other people thought rather than being true to my call.
I thank God that he has kept faith in me and has never let go. God had always guided me back towards the promised land despite me.
One thing is for sure, I am not ashamed in what I believe these days, who I believe in and what I stand for. My worst days during the last forty years of faith definitely were the ones that I allowed by watering down my Christian beliefs. I compromised aspects of my beliefs so that I could be accepted by individuals I respected. What a mistake that was.
These days, I choose again like I did as a seventeen year old, a simple faith that has two rules. To Love God with all my heart, mind and soul and my neighbour as myself.
If I can stick to these two rules, I’m confident that my next forty years of faith will be even more epic than the first forty years.
In faith, I’m looking forward to the next forty years, God willing. I’m keen yo see what life has in stall for me and others who are open to his call.
Wether you’re on the mountain top or in the valley, hope is not a geographical place to reach or some time in the future, hope is within us if we activate it by believing. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Saviour and being open to an extraordinary life of faith is just the beginning.
Life is a journey not a destination. Never allow yourself to get stuck in any part of the journey, just keep being open to the adventure and take as many people with you along the way.
I pray 🙏 you to will take the plunge and walk by faith and not always by sight. See where God takes you.
Spirituality isn’t some mystical feeling experienced on some mountain top; spirituality is gut-wrenchingly real and can be experienced in the workplace, home, the streets, in prison.
God is wherever you call out to him. 🙏
If you are going to do something in life, do it with all your heart.
God bless you and thank you for letting me share part of my story…
In God, the best days of your life are ahead of you.