Ch 21 : Ross
The service had just begun at Lang Lang when I saw him come into church. Heavy boots, torn jeans, leather jacket, helmet under one arm, a face that modelled the joke “its not the years its the mileage”. Definitely not our usual clientele! He sat quietly through the service. When it came time for the collection I tried hard not to smile at Jan's obvious inner turmoil: should she pass the collection plate to him or not. Clearly she was thinking he might grab it and bolt!
He stopped to talk to me after the service. His story went like this. He had indeed been a wild lad. But 4 or 5 year back now he had got married. The minister who took their wedding was an on-fire Church of Christ pastor, and during the preparation sessions both Ross and Robyn his fiancee had become born-again Christians.
A year or so back they had moved on to Ross's elder brother's dairy farm where they had a cottage and Ross worked on the farm. Ross's brother was an elder in the local Uniting Church. Ross was very on-fire about Christianity had started to evangelise and had collected a number of people in their 20's who now came to a weekly Bible study at his home. The Uniting minister, being of the liberal theology persuasion was not interested in their Bible study group.
Ross and the others had recently been praying about their group. They believed they had a prophetic word that God would sent them a person to lead it. And I think there had been a Bible verse with a message like “I will send you a shepherd, my servant David”. That morning Ross had thought God was telling him to come to the Lang Lang Anglican church. He was skeptical – I think along the lines “Can anything good come out of an Anglican church”. But as soon as the morning milking was finished he had put on a clean T-shirt, hopped on his motorbike and come. He was amused to see on the noticeboard that my name was “David”, he nearly ran away when he saw the congregation, but apparently my sermon passed muster. So after a lengthy explanation he asked if I would lead their Bible study. Naturally I said “Yes”.
I just want to say it once more: When you are working for and with God, “coincidences” just keep happening. One is continually finding that even in one's tiny sphere of experience, God seems to be weaving an incredible number of threads together. But it is still really exciting every time you see his handiwork!
So for the next few years I spent Tuesday nights at Ross and Robyn's leading this Bible study group. They were already keen Christians. But studying the scriptures, talking and praying together - often late into the night - we developed into a dynamic cell. People were added as time went on. We started an evangelistic service aimed at teens-and-twenties that grew into the Bayles Fellowship. Ross and I started a Christian group at the local high school. Ross later came on the Anglican Parish Council where he helped open the minds of the “oldies” to ideas of evangelism. I still smile remembering one answer he gave. An old farmer, who was more comfortable talking about “church” than about “Jesus” asked him one time “How can we get young people like you come?” Ross replied without a pause “Just put on a keg of beer and a pig on a spit and I can get you a couple of hundred - but of course that won't make them Christians!”
Ross could spin a very amusing yarn about everyday events. One time he was doing this at Bible study when he mentioned that while he was working on the farm the day before a song had come into his head. It was a Christian song that had really catchy rhythm – Ross was a guitarist – and he thought for a moment “I've never heard that song before, but it is really good, I must try to remember it” but with pressure of work he soon forgot all about the incident until he got home, Then the song had gone completely from his mind. He tried but couldn’t figure out how it had gone.
As I remembered how Rosalie's song writing had started I said: “Ross, you idiot – that was God offering you the gift of song writing just like he gave to Rosalie! Now you tell God you are sorry for treating it lightly and ask him to give you that gift!” Ross did and sure enough over the next couple of years he composed a flow of songs. They were quite different from Rosalie's. Hers were mostly for younger children, and sung unaccompanied. Ross' were teenage music and went with guitar. His songs generally came out of his Bible reading. One time he was reading through the book of Joshua – and each time he read a new section of the book he got a corresponding new verse for the song.
More about Ross, the Bible study people, the high school group and Bayles Fellowship in later chapters.