‘I want to be like that builder …’

Phil’s story | A quiet patron of the Gospel

“I remember going to ‘Christians in business’ conferences with my dad, as a teenager. It was huge modelling for me. You could have faith in Jesus, as well as a work ethic. You could be an entrepreneur and a Christian in business. You could be a patron of the Gospel and you could do it quietly.

One year, the speaker at the conference was a builder. He said he really loved building, but he also knew there was something greater going on. He shared Christ through his work, and at the same time, he ploughed incredible resources into Gospel ministry.

I thought, I want to be like that! After university, I helped my dad with his business, which was in buying and selling earth-moving equipment. Then, in 2006, he helped me set up mine. I’d realised there was an opportunity (and a need) to connect freight carriers with shippers. There were empty trucks sitting around the country and shippers needing them … so I thought we could set up a tech platform to connect them. I went to some friends from church and they helped me with marketing and web design. Then in March 2007, we launched the platform.

Initially, it didn’t work. Back in 2007, the truckies were in their mid-fifties, sitting in their cabins with their old Nokia phones. They weren’t jumping on the new technology. So we simplified it. We sent text messages instead of emails … and there was an immediate take-up. The truckies started getting job leads popping up on their phones while they were driving. And we became Australia’s leading digital freight marketplace.

But what I’ve learnt is about the heart of it. No matter who we are, we have resources entrusted to us. Not everything is for our own consumption. We can’t take it with us! We can use our resources for the Gospel. We can have a heart for the customer. We can build community. My wife and I like to use our resources quietly. It’s not just about the dollars. That person sitting over there might need a contact or a loan of an asset. We can help them, and then they can go out and do powerful things for the Gospel.

All through the Bible, we notice patrons of the Gospel in the background. You don’t often hear about them, but they’re there. How did Jesus get things done? Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna helped to support him out of their own means (Luke 8:3). Then there was Phoebe, the benefactor of so many people, including Paul (Rom 16:2). There were always patrons, resourcing the Gospel. That’s where my wife and I see ourselves. We’re in the background, noticing people who are enthusiastic for Christ but missing the resources.

Some years ago, our church was asked to run the local Christmas carols event. Back then, there were about 400 people coming. But our church thought we could reimagine it. What if we bless our community, give it to them for free? What if we provide catering, food and drink, entertainment and kids’ rides for free? That was a few years ago, and it’s been growing since then. We get about 7,000 people. We have a lot of sponsors and volunteers! It’s wonderful. We start with the Christmas songs they know and then we move to the sacred – the powerful, Gospel-filled carols. The final song of the night is always a full-on worship song of praise. They go away singing it – these people who wouldn’t normally hear the Gospel message.

Of course, it’s not looking good this year for a carols event. We may have to roll over to 2022. But it will happen again. And for me, my favourite reminder is 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

That’s what I want to do, everywhere – in business, at church, with our community. For me, it’s about being set apart, being ready for when people have a question, and being able to explain the incredible hope that we have in Christ.”

Phil’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

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