To begin from the beginning, I was born in 1963 at Adelaide, although my family moved to Sydney when I was two, and I grew up there. I attended Sunday School and a boys' club at the local church, which gave me a basic knowledge about God, although I can not remember hearing about how to have a relationship with him - more my fault than the teachers', I am sure! But when I was about 14, I went to a couple of Christian camps, one run by some teachers at my school, the other by the Anglican Church. It was at these camps that I can first remember hearing the good news: that although my rebellion made me unacceptable to God, Jesus took my punishment when he died so that this barrier to God could be removed. So I had a choice: I could trust Jesus and have eternal life, or I could choose to refuse this offer and remain separated from God. When I considered it, the best choice was obvious to me, and I believed in Jesus.
In my early years as a Christian I did not grow much, mainly due to not having fellowship with other Christians. But in my second last year at school I started attending the Youth Group in the local church, which was a turning point in my spiritual life. I have a few clear memories of that time. One was listening to a sermon, in which the preacher said that it was important for someone who wants to follow God to listen to him in order to know how to follow him, and that we can hear God when we read the Bible. That is why reading the Bible every day is so important. So from that day I begun reading the Bible daily. After three years in the group, I started leading one of the cell groups for the youth, and then for two years was a leader of the Youth Group. These three years taught me a lot about Christian service and teaching the Bible, if only by learning from all the mistakes that I made due to my inexperience! In this period, I also remember the youth minister remarking once that Christians often have a university level knowledge in their chosen field, but a kindergarten level knowledge of the Bible. Which I thought described me pretty well, so I started seriously studying the Bible. I started doing the Theological Certificate course by correspondence from Moore College; it took me five and a half years to do all the subjects, but it gave me an excellent grounding in the Bible, in doctrine and in history. Another formative experience was a series of studies with the young adults' group in my final year there on the centrality of Christ in all the Bible, using the book Gospel and Kingdom. Before then, I thought that Jesus and the cross were one part of Christianity. After, I realised that they are the centre and the cornerstone, and that all the Bible should be interpreted through the fact of Jesus' death and what it accomplished.
During this period, I finished school, and went to university, where I studied for a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in mathematics. I also became aware that, from a Christian point of view, not all the world was like Sydney. Not all had the privilege of excellent Bible teaching like that which I had had. Not all churches were large like my mine, with dozens of people available to lead the various groups. In fact, if I had left, there would be lots of people that could take my place, whereas I could go somewhere else where there was a lack of people to do such things. So began my missionary thinking. At the beginning, I did not go far, but I purposefully went to a city with fewer Bible teaching churches, and to a smaller church. In fact, after graduating I went to Newcastle, where for three years I did postgraduate studies in Applied Mathematics at the university (researching on how to decide where to build and close hospitals).
My stay at Newcastle was where I learnt about university ministry. Although I had had some contact with the student Christian groups at Sydney, I was not involved much, partly because I spent two hours each day commuting, and partly due to my own lack of desire. But at Newcastle I lived in a residential college on campus, and wanted to be a part of a student group, and so belonged to and was a leader of the local branch of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students. I also quickly found a church to belong to, and shortly was leading the Youth Group there. There was also a very strong Young Adults' group. When I look back to it, I see it as the best approximation I have ever experienced in my life to what heaven will be like, due to our close fellowship and commitment to each other, and out mutual desire to know God better and help others to know him.
At the same time my missionary thoughts were developing. Not necessarily as a full-time missionary, but at least going where the Bible was less well known. At that stage, I started thinking about Europe as the best place where I could go. (Although, to be honest, I can remember thinking, "Anywhere in Europe, except Italy, because it is too chaotic for my ordered mind"!) I do not remember where I had heard of the European Christian Mission previously, but soon after arriving at Newcastle I looked it up in the phone book, and started receiving their news and supporting them.
At the end of my studies at Newcastle, I was pretty much decided that eventually I would be heading to Europe, but I still was not sure in what capacity - as a full-time missionary, as a tentmaker, or otherwise. Since I wanted to work for some time, also to help me decide, I obtained a job at Canberra in the mathematics department of the Australian Defence Force Academy (a university run by the armed forces), where I taught undergraduates and did research in criminology. I did this for two years, in which time I decided that it would be better for me to serve a church and be in student ministry full-time. So in my third year at Canberra, I had a type of apprenticeship, doing volunteer work half-time for my local church and half-time for the AFES in student groups at the universities at Canberra. Perhaps more than the work I was doing, I learnt from spending time with the church pastor and the university staff worker, as I observed more closely what they were doing and met with them.
At the end of 1991, I was accepted by ECM to work for them, and so in January 1992 moved back to Sydney to receive training and to prepare to leave. At the same time, the ECM missionary at Trent wrote in a newsletter than the church was looking for someone to help in the church, as well as work at the university (where two church members were studying and who were the IFES group there). This was exactly the form of ministry I was looking for - being involved in both church and university work - and I decided to go there. Thus, on September 15 1992 I left for Trent, Italy, and you can read about what I have done since then on the rest of this site.