Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 59 - Spring (Sep-Nov) 2016 > Bertha Follows the Church Tradition (by Pr George Porter)

Bertha Follows the Church Tradition

by Pr George Porter

The adult leaders of our local Burringbar Seventh-day Adventist Church worked tirelessly to give us a solid scriptural basis for Gospel work. Early in 1950, Milton Edwards a young married adult, together with several others established a Junior Missionary Volunteer Society in our village.  We learned to memorize quite a lot of Holy Scripture and were encouraged commit to witness for Jesus Christ. This was spelt out in our Law, Aim and Motto which we learnt off by heart.  Our leaders worked tirelessly to help us fall in love with Jesus and to give our lives to Him in baptism.  Every one of us was baptized by the time we were twelve years of age. The majority remain members to this day

Every Saturday all the church members drove from Ophir Glen to Burringbar to worship in the Church building.    It was situated on a hill overlooking the railway station and the town. Bible Study time for all ages was followed by the Sermon after which we all ate lunch together.  Then adults would bundle us into a couple of vehicles and set us to work in Gospel visitation. Some weeks we would take the road to Mooball and then take the Pottsville road to the tiny seaside village of Pottsville.  On other weekends we would drive over the Burringbar range and take the Cudgera Road to Pottsville.  We visited every home along the way distributing Christian literature. We personally delivered these to folk making friends with many of the farmers and others. We also door knocked the tiny settlement of Pottsville and Cudgera.  By tiny I mean one store, with Post Office and a petrol pump.

We distributed the Voice of Prophecy and Signs of the Times magazines to the folk in the area.  The VOP presented bible studies other spiritual articles and poems presented on the radio by Pastor L.C. Naden.  He aired weekly religious broadcasts across the state and nation. Radio was the "in thing" in those days and he enjoyed a large following.  Hundreds of those who listened nation-wide, were baptized Seventh-day Adventists.  Folk we visited recognized the connection between the VOP magazine and the radio broadcasts and were delighted to have a free copy.  They welcomed us with open arms.  We made many friends and found several people and some families keenly interested in the Gospel of Jesus and the hope of salvation.  The events of WW11 had caused many to have serious questions about the future. They were attracted to the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation which gave them hope.  Over time, with friendships established, many folk requested Bible studies. 

The older young adults who drove us around for visitation could not cope with all the requests for studies. So they decided that we young fellows should be trained to share the load.  We were all issued with a little contemporary pocket-sized book of the day entitled, "Training Light Bearers".  It contained several pages of how to approach people and how to conduct a study.  The remainder was made up of all the necessary Bible studies we needed to present to our students.  Each topic listed all the relevant facts and questions plus the biblical references for the study. It was the perfect aid for inter-personal Bible studies.

I well remember that my brother ,Robert and I were paired off to work together as were Peter and John Williams. It was decided that we young fellows would present studies on topics such as; Creation, Sin, Repentance, Forgiveness, Salvation, Prayer, Christ's Death, Resurrection and Second Coming.  The older men would follow on with the heavy topics and the studies of Daniel and Revelation.  Actually it went extremely well.

I remember the day when I was appointed to study with a Mrs Beryl Rabjones who lived in Pottsville. We had visited her for some time and had become trusted young friends. She was keenly interested in the Bible and the prophecies. It was a pleasure to teach this lady God's word.  Eventually she fell in love with Jesus, accepted the doctrines and prophecies we presented, and requested baptism.  We boys were so joyful and thankful to God for His leading.  Beryl had five little girls. The two eldest daughters grew and trained at Sydney Adventist Hospital. (The San)  Beryl's husband followed her example years later when I was at Avondale College.  We young fellows will be forever grateful for the church leaders who trained and equipped us to be effective witnesses for Christ.

It was with this background in Gospel outreach, that Robert & I made the decision to use "Bertha" to extend the territory in which our church worked.  We focused our attention on the tiny seaside village a few kilometres north of Pottsville and Cudgera named Hastings Point.  The village was situated at the mouth of the Cudgera Creek inlet.  To get there we had to negotiate a sandy track which followed behind the sand dunes which were bordered by the sea on one side and Cudgera creek inlet on the inland side.  We enjoyed negotiating this narrow strip as "Bertha" chewed her way through the sand.

At Hastings Point which boasted one shop, and a few houses, we repeated out witnessing strategy which had worked so successfully in other areas of the district.  Over time we made several good contacts.  We made friends with a retired couple by the name of Jarret.  Ma and Pa Jarret's bachelor son lived with them in their large house with verandahs on all four sides. They had a huge area of fruit trees and vegie garden at the rear.  Eventually the family led by Ma requested Bible Studies.  Finally all the Jarret family were baptized. There was much rejoicing and praising God.

Ma Jarret was a sweet old lady and the men in her house were gentlemen. They suggested that we use their home every Sabbath afternoon for Sabbath School Bible study, followed by a full sermon as well.  The adults in our church supported their request. We young men with the adults from our parent church, collected and transported interested adults and children to worship at Jarret's every Sabbath.   It was our branch Sabbath School for children. Eventually we moved into the inland where we conducted a Branch Sabbath School in the Reserve Creek Hall.  God really blessed our efforts and we praise Him for all the victories in people's lives.

Somewhere in all this witnessing activity it was suggested by all the young men that we should change "Bertha's" name.   She was to be called, "The Gospel Chariot".  The decision was unanimous. It was not original with we boys. You see  back in 1950, Milton Edwards and Ron Wyborn bought an old 1927 Chevy truck. It had a flat tray with a wooden canopy high enough to sit under.  Each side of the tray had a full length bench seat for about eight to ten adults.  There were  steps which were fixed to the back end of the tray to enable passengers to embark and disembark.  The Chariot only cost about $100. Ron used it to transport us to church and sometimes on district outreach.   The old lady soon died of overwork and old age and had long since been retired. That is how we came by the new name for "Bertha". It was so fitting for the noble work she performed.  We all salute "The Gospel Chariot" and the fine work she accomplished.

It was in June 1955 that the Burringbar Church board in their wisdom placed me in the leadership of the Branch Sabbath Schools. This was an enjoyable responsibility on behalf of the Lord and our local church. As young men we all worked harmoniously together to take Jesus to the isolated spots in our district.   More on the Chevy "Gospel Chariot" next edition.

This article is Copyright © 2014 by George C Porter.  Used by permission.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 59 - Spring (Sep-Nov) 2016 > Bertha Follows the Church Tradition (by Pr George Porter)