'It was a big change in the direction of my life'
Andrew’s story | A farmer returns to the source
“My wife and I both grew up in the church in Canberra. We were very involved. My father was the youth director. But after we got married, we slipped away a bit. We moved to Melbourne, and then we bought a farm in Sutton, and then another farm in Cowra. Both farms were 1000 acres and we were breeding Limousin cattle. I was often away on Sundays, at agricultural shows and on the different properties.”
“By the time I was 40, we had three kids and we were living on the farm in Cowra. The soil there was very rich and it had the potential to grow anything you wanted to. We purchased it so we could feed the stock during drought. It was a busy time. When you make Lucerne hay, you have to wait for the dew to settle on it. I’d be out there at 10pm at night, bailing the hay, then up again at 5am, raking the hay. During the day, I’d be moving the irrigation pipes, sowing things, ploughing things, feeding the cattle, doing embryo transplants, fencing, running our own butcher shop in town, delivering meat to Sydney. It was a busy time.
“But it was also beautiful. We had a river on our property, with huge river gums. And stepping out of the tractor after making hay at midnight is magnificent. The stars are so bright they light up the ground. They are so close.
“One day, I’d just planted a new crop of oats. There were little green shoots coming up everywhere. And I was sitting near the river bank. It was quiet and beautiful. I started thinking. What’s this all about? What’s the point of all this busyness?
“I went back inside and I found an old Bible that had belonged to my dad. I hadn’t read it for years. It opened up at Romans 12:2. ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, perfect and pleasing will.’
“It was a major moment for me, a big change in the direction of my life. I realised I needed to let God transform me. That’s the only thing that would help me find true purpose. And part of that was being connected at church, so we started going to Cowra Baptist and to Bible study. It was really good. I started to spend a lot of time praying, while I was on the tractor, which was all day. My mind started focusing on kingdom things. I talked a lot to our pastor. We fired off each other. My wife and I became involved in ministry, including with a whole group of young families and adults.
“After a few years, I went and trained for the ministry, and then we planted a church in western Sydney. It’s been wonderful. I don’t have regrets, but it’s also been hard. I’m a bit more wary when I read that verse! I know things can go wrong … but perhaps that’s a good thing. Maybe I’m more aware of God’s presence and strength. Maybe I’m more aware that he’s the one leading things, controlling things, and putting us in the places he needs us to be.
“And I still love the beauty of fields and rivers and growing things. But nowadays, whenever I see beauty, it points me to the glory of God.”