One surreal December morning, my wife Merryn and I woke to the news that her father was in hospital after a serious car crash, and my father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
To complicate matters, my father was my mother’s full-time carer and they lived in Australia.
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With both parents now needing care, and us so far away living in the UK, some stressful days followed.
Merryn’s father began a slow and gradual path back to recovery. The nature of my father’s predicament meant a longer journey lay ahead. The plan for him was to have the tumour removed and then for chemotherapy to begin.
We flew to Brisbane to support him as the operation approached. When Sunday came, we visited his church too. There a man named Helmut approached me. Helmut said he’d heard about our family’s situation and wanted to help, and would soon be in touch with some ideas.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure anything would come of it. Many promise help without following through.
Two days later, Helmut arrived on my parents’ doorstep with a notepad in hand. He’d written a list of tasks they might need help with. “You’ll need some meals delivered after the operation,” he said. “I’ll arrange a cooking roster. Then there’s your mowing – I can do that for you. What day is your rubbish collected? And when do you do your shopping?” Down the list he went, sorting everything.
Helmut is a retired truck driver who now spends his days helping the elderly, homeless, and others in need.
When I asked how this compassion developed, he said that it started when he became a Christian at the age of 45. His experience reminded me of something philosopher Paul Moser has said – that the greatest “proof” of God’s existence isn’t the beauty of the world, or our innate sense of right and wrong, but the love that flows out from a person when God becomes the centre of their lives.
We landed in Brisbane the day of Dad’s operation – and to the news that his tumour was too large to safely remove. His chemotherapy was delayed too.
After we’d been in Brisbane for three weeks, helping in other ways, Dad told us to head home, as we’d done all we could – and Helmut was now there to help. Merryn and I left, but we were still a little nervous. Would Helmut follow through when the real needs hit?
Dad had several rounds of chemo in the months that followed. Helmut drove him to and from the hospital each time. The lawns were mown. The fridge was full of meals.
It felt as if we’d been touched by God through a truck driver’s hands.
This excerpt is taken from the new gift book Reflect with Sheridan by Sheridan Voysey, an Australian-born, British-based author, speaker and broadcaster. Watch him explain the heart behind Reflect with Sheridan.