Immersed In Holy Spirit
My name’s Chris and I’m just sitting here contemplating my 72 years of life. I met my wife, Heather 48 years ago, we married 38 years ago, and the last 28 years has been a Christian marriage. So yes, do the math. So I didn’t get saved until I was 44 years of age. In that first 44 years, the only identity I knew was self. I was adventurous. I went from school to Qantas Airways, I traveled the world.
The people I looked at at Qantas had a very restricted life in their work life. I wanted more freedom and flexibility. So I left them, became self employed from when I was 23, had a couple of businesses and ended up in real estate. Then a friend who I knew invited me into his big real estate company in Sydney. They were developing a lot of apartments and the like, but he said to me, “We’ll sell someone’s house for them if they want, but what we’d like to do is help people own two or three small properties that get paid off over their life. They’ll be very secure in their later life financially.” When I measured that, from what I saw at Qantas, where people in their 60s were asking for overtime because they needed the money, I thought that’s a good thing for people to do.
It was many years ago before lots of the information that’s available today. So people just warmed to that thought. I was walking alongside them and they were paying me a fee to do that. That money came so easily to me that I didn’t appreciate the stewardship of it, and we were making a lot of money. But that in itself wasn’t going to teach me how to use money. We had high end cars. We lived in the middle of the city looking over the harbor. We had investment properties. We had four hotels, Heather had a share in a ballet school. It wasn’t that we were business people, I was just charging ahead.
I’ve got to give applause to my wife, Heather, how she hung on through those years, I’ve got no idea. I would be out till all hours doing business, seeing people whatever. She basically brought up the family in the early stages. It was only when the crash came that I had to relook at life. And that was the moment that Christ said, I believe He said, Now I can get him. I followed him through all of this stuff that he’s been doing himself. I have supported his wife, now I can get him.
It was really interesting because the one business that brought everything down, the managing partners of that business were the only Christians in all of our partnerships across real estate and business. They were wonderful people, like, we really loved spending time with them, but it turned out, they weren’t good stewards of their time, their money and their relationships and they actually ended up splitting up. But they hadn’t paid the bank for six months on the loan and we hadn’t read the Bible at that stage in Proverbs that don’t guarantee for someone else’s loan. Heather and I were the personal guarantees for a $1.1 million dollar loan and that was the one that they weren’t paying.
The bank took administration of the business and that led to everything being sold. After that, they asked us for another $1.95 million to clear our account. I didn’t want to go bankrupt and there were a lot of people in trouble in those days in Australia in recession time. So we were able to negotiate a really small amount under a confidentiality agreement to pay off over 15 years, so that I didn’t have to go bankrupt. But just to survive, I had to go back to Sydney working with my clients in real estate again, three hours from the family.
Heather was back to work. She was just doing manual labor, she was making beds in a motel and at night, she was working in a takeaway shop. But I started to look for people who could help me not make big mistakes again, and two gentlemen that I spoke to, I asked if they could walk alongside and mentor me. They turned out to be Christians. Then I started doing some work for a company that was owned by Christians. My wife did some work for another company owned by Christians and we were invited to their church.
Our first day there, we walked into 500 people praising and worshiping the Lord. We enjoyed that day, went back and were invited to arrive at 5pm. When we arrived, there were only about 50 people there and that was confusing from what we saw the previous week. But it turned out that they’d invited us to the pre-service prayer meeting. We were uncomfortable in that situation when the pastor said, “Alright, just get in small groups and pray for each other.” Behind us was the one person who we’d really got time to talk to the previous week. So we said, “Can we join you?” And he said, “No problem.” He started to pray in English, then he switched to praying in tongues, and then he put his hand on my head, and started to prophesy my financial future. I looked past him to Heather, standing behind him and [I thought] my wife’s crying and Oh, so am I.
When the service actually started, we were sitting down together, almost hugging each other wondering what was going on. But the presence of God was so much that when they did the altar call to come to the front of them, we just got up and went out. We didn’t even look at each other, we independently went out. That’s where this journey started from there. Along the way, His power just impacted us incredibly.
My parents were unsaved. My father was not well, and had been in the hospital a couple of times. He was taken to hospital again, I was called to say that, “You better come in. He’s in his last days.” So we went to the hospital. The doctors said, “He’s pretty much gone. We can leave him in a coma for 14 days to see if there’s any strength that comes back in the muscles around his lungs to help him breathe.” So we said, “Yeah, let’s do that.” And we’d only recently been saved; it was in that first year.
We went to church the next Sunday, obviously, upset. One of the gentlemen there who was guiding us along said, “What’s going on?” And we told him and he said, “Oh, is he saved?” We said, “Unfortunately not.” He said, “Well, we better go and pray with him.” We said, “We can’t do that, he’s in a coma.” And he said, “Well, we’ll go and see if they can wake him up.” So we went to the hospital and went to the ward people and said, “We’re Christians, can you please wake him up so we can pray with him?” And they said, “No we can’t do that, it needs the full procedure to have any chance of working.” So we said, “Oh okay, well can we see him?” And we walked into his private room, and when we did, he lifted his head and opened his eyes. We prayed with him. He had all sorts of things down his throat and around his head. I said to him, “If you understood what we just did, can you give me some sign?” He instinctively reached out, took my hand and squeezed it. He closed his eyes, laid his head down, never woke up again.
My mother witnessed that, she got saved. My brother heard about it, and he got saved. The three of them are now in heaven together, waiting for me. That shaped the way I personally and us as a family approached life. From that day on, we walked in what I call our “Holy Spirit bubble,” knowing that the Holy Spirit wasn’t hiding somewhere for us to call Him out to us. That He is absolutely, we are immersed in the Holy Spirit. So it shaped our decisions, and shaped the way we saw other people and how much we wanted to help them. Then the power of experiencing Him waking someone up, so that they could get to heaven, and the others that then got saved out of that it was so powerful, and drove our passion for sharing with others.
We started to read the Bible. Not only did we hear about Christ, it actually told us how to live life. Manage your time well, steward your relationships, steward your money, write a plan, write it down so others can see it. If I’d only done that, I might have not had that big financial fall. So we started life, immersed in the Lord and we saw other people struggling. So we started to walk alongside people to consider how they’re doing life, and God gave us two journeys to do. One was to help Christians be outstanding stewards of their gifts and resources. The other was to mix with the unsaved, just like Jesus did. So that mixing with Christians doing life well, then they may come to the Lord if led by the Spirit. The journey of identity in Christ had begun.
As that went through the first year that we were saved, the Pastor asked us to come out of a service and he said, “I’ve got a word for you. You will be a quiet whisper to the world, not a clanging gong.” I didn’t know what it meant, I didn’t know why he did it. 20 years later, we were asked to walk alongside a couple in America. Eight years later, we’re walking alongside Christian and non Christian people, helping them think about their life and their future in 12 countries of the world. 20 years after the prophecy, the prophecy came to be fulfilled! Today we have the privilege of walking alongside people, as I said, in various countries, and sharing the gospel and attracting people who want to live a better life today. There is such a desire in people to live a better life.
I’d like to think today I walk in the confidence of Christ with humility, to attract people to want to do life well, to have relationship – because there’s relationship and everything else is just detail.