I grew up in a little church in Lebanon, Connecticut. Someday I will tell you how I came to be there because that is a wonderful testimony to the power of God in itself, but today I want to tell you about a man who touched my life. I'm thinking about him a lot these days.
His name was John Brooks. I met him when I was 11 years old. He came to our church as a part time interim pastor. No one expected him to stay very long. Then again, no one fully understands God's plan. Rev. Dr. John Brooks spent the next fifteen years in Lebanon and he influenced a generation of us.
Dr. Brooks was gifted and a charismatic leader. People instantly fell in love with him. All of us kids felt special when we were around him. He always made time for us. He didn't have any children of his own, but he adopted the whole lot of us and we felt it.
Then there was his accent. He was from Australia. Over the years we met his family and heard all kinds of tales from his homeland. I fantasized more than once about going to Australia to see the many things he talked about. It was a strange but exotic place and he made it sound wonderful.
Dr. Brooks died in 1985. Yet, the fascination with Australia had been planted in my heart and the hearts of many of us who knew and loved him. Yet it is on the other side of the world. You don't just drop in to say hello. It takes a bit of planning to go and a great deal of that green stuff.
In 2000 I thought about making the trip. It would have been a pilgrimage of sorts. The Baptist Worlds Alliance was meeting there. If I could find the money, I was going to go. Soon the deadline for registering came and went. You know how it is. Other stuff comes along. with that opportunity gone, I felt I'd never get the chance to go again.
Fast forward seven years and suddenly my second daughter starts talking about studying abroad. She narrows down her choices and finally announces that she wants to go to Australia. Suddenly a door opens again. In July she left for the great adventure.
This summer, my wife bought me a ticket to go see her as my 50th birthday present. I leave next Tuesday. Meanwhile I have been in contact with Dr. Brook's nephew and made plans to visit him and his wife while I am there. What more could I ask for?
What more? Last week I was flipping through one of my worship magazines and I came across an article by Darlene Zschech. She is one of the founders of the modern praise music movement. Her Hillsong Church set the tone for the music we have enjoyed the last twenty years. As I was reading it I suddenly realized that she lived in Sydney and Hillsong Church was there.
When I took my sabbatical three years ago I traveled to conferences and studied various worship styles. Every time I turned around I came back to hearing about Hillsong. I didn't give it much thought because I knew I would never be able to go there... Funny how things work out though. Not only will I be able to visit my daughter and share this special part of her life's walk, but I will reconnect with my past when I visit Dr. Brook's family and be reinvigorated in my ministry by going to the "mecca" of contemporary worship.
God is amazing. All things do tend to come together in His time. Enjoy this worship video by Darlen and the group at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia.