“Is anyone sitting here?” an older man with a suitcase asks. I indicate that the seat beside me is free so he sits and reaches to get a book out of his suitcase. He is clean shaven and casually, but neatly dressed, although his Akubra style hat that has seen better days. It’s a busy Wednesday afternoon in Chatswood Westfield. I’m on afternoon tea break from a business course, have picked up a hot chocolate from Oliver Browns and am settled on one of the couches outside to enjoy it.
“Are you going on holidays?” I ask after a minute or two have passed. He looks up from his book and pauses thoughtfully, then says no, he is a Dairy Farmer from up near Macksville. He goes on to say that he has just sold his dairy of 28 years after it went under due to the deregulation of milk and the pricing pressures from the big two supermarkets. “With the money that was left all I could afford was a one bedroom shack in a place called Holbrook. Have you heard of it?”. “Yes”, I tell him. “We used to drive through Holbrook every Christmas on the way to Melbourne before the freeway bypassed the town.” “I hear there is a giant black submarine in the middle of town” he said. “Yes, that’s right” I recalled the awe that my little girl experienced walking around this massive sub for the first time in the park.
“So that’s where I’m going” he continues, “but I’m stuck in Chatswood until Friday morning when my money comes through. I’ll be first in line at the Commonwealth Bank on Friday!” he declares. “I slept in front of the RSL last night” he says, with an air of disbelief. “Went to the Anglican Church first but they were closed, then asked an Op Shop for a blanket but they said no. I can stay in the shopping centre until 8pm though.” I could tell that he hadn’t had a decent conversation with anyone for a while, so I just listen.
“One of the first things I’ll buy is a new hat, and a cup of tea. I spent my last $3 on this book” he indicates the Clive Cussler action novel on his lap. This was all spoken of matter of factly, with almost a sense of wonder that he could actually be in this position – a hard working dairy farmer from up north who had run his own business for 28 years. “Give this man $100!” I hear the Holy Spirt whisper to my heart.
“I’d rather be waiting for the money to come through in the country, but the bus ticket to Holbrook is expensive you know” he says. “How much is the fare?” I ask, seeking to clarify my recent prompting. “It’s $68, a lot of money.” Yep, that’s all the confirmation I need.
“Listen, stay here I want to give you the money for your bus ticket. I will be right back”, I gather my things to go. “No, you can’t do that” he says with the self-sufficiency of someone who is not accustomed to receiving. “I just need to get four hours work.” “Please,” I say placing my hand on his arm “I want to bless you”.
His eyes light up. “Do you go to church?” he asked. “Yes,” I say “I am a Christian and God has told me to give you that money”. “Ahh” he says with understanding, “my wife went to an Anglican Church. Most weeks she would go with $100 in her purse. She’d be disappointed if she came home with it again because she hadn’t found any one who needed it“ he recalls. “Joyce died of breast cancer in 2014” he adds, “She’s up there now” he points upwards.
I walk away looking for an ATM full of emotion, both at the story I had just heard and the privilege that God would use me to show His love to this humble, hard-working man. His wife must have prayed for her husband many, many times during her life.
Making my way back to Oliver Browns, I discreetly hand him some folded notes and introduce myself. “Dave” he replies and we shake hands. His large, brown, strong, work-worn hand around mine. “May I pray with you Dave?” He nods. I leave my hand in his and begin to pray God’s blessing, protection and leading for him. And I speak of God’s great love for him. When I’d finish he looks up with glassy eyes, which was probably equal to crying a river for Dave. “You made me a bit teary” he says with a self-conscious smile.
And that was the last I saw of Dave. He was often on my mind and I would never fail to look for him on the couches outside Oliver Brown during my breaks for the next two days while I was in Chatswood. But that was a good thing right? He was on his way to Holbrook. To his new home and, I hope, a welcoming community of believers should he decide to visit his local church. Which I pray that he does. But most importantly, with a new found knowledge of God’s very personal love for him.
Reflection: God had previously been speaking to me about having money set aside for giving as He led. Separately to giving to church or sponsoring our sponsor kids, but just available for when it is needed. So what a delight it was to experience this concept in action! And what an honour it is to be a channel for God to bless others through. How thankful I am that I was financially prepared.
Christian Super are currently heading up an international initiative called Generosity Round Table, centred on the concept of giving within the financial stewardship space. If being a good financial steward is this rewarding (and let’s admit it, somewhat addictive) I’m all in. I look forward to my next God-assignment!
This story was shared by a Christian Super staff member.