TRUST MY GOD - HE IS ABLE
My Life With Mentors
Guest writer, Bruce Leane
I am compelled to put pen to paper to tell others how God supplies above and beyond all avenues of training and preparation for ministry.
In my early teens, I felt called to the full-time ministry which of course, meant education and training. I preached my first sermon at sixteen at Christian Endeavour and never seemed to stop.
The Second World War broke out and Dad enlisted in the Air Force and left home. My older brother Peter and I were left to manage our small dairy herd. I was thirteen at the time and had to drop out of school. My education was cut short, and I was not able to go to High School and later Bible College. The call that God had placed on my life remained. I still felt the call to preach.
After the War, Dad and return home, I still had to battle to help the family make a living. With no education, there seemed no future and no hope other than a burning in my heart to serve the Lord.
My life to this point consisted of battling Asthma, I was losing the battle and had to leave the south of South Australia. Miraculously I was offered a job on a fruit block in the Winkie area of the Riverland for six months pruning. I left that job eleven years later after some intense years of mentoring in horticulture by one of God’s delegated trainers.
MY MENTORS OR GODS TEACHERS
Ray Bishop was the Youth Leader of the Church of Christ at Mount Compass. To me, as a searching teenager, he was true blue and lead the Christian Endeavour group of which I was a member. Ray cleared vast tracts of land with an old caterpillar tractor running it on gas produced from charcoal, during the war when there was an acute shortage of fuel. He worked long hours and kept his Schofield Bible sitting on the tractor with him, every day so he could lead us young people in our walk with the Lord. His work ethic and Christian principle hugely impressed me and gave me a solid Bible based learning in ‘Dispensational Truth,' a great platform that fits the covenants of God together to make sense. Ray became a fill-in Dad in my teen years and gave me a sound foundation for studying the Bible.
MENTOR IN THE FRUIT INDUSTRY
In early 1952 I arrived in the Riverland to work for Mr. Len Chapple and his son Alan. I left behind my fiance Gweneth Hunt and my beloved dog Flash. My Bible and my toolbox came with me.
Mr. Len Chapple was God’s orchardist; he proved to be a treasured mentor. Almost from the start, I was teaching in a youth group in Sunday School, leading a Boys Brigade and soon was preaching in all the Church of Christ congregations around the Riverland, Berri, Barmera, Loxton, Moorook under the watchful eye of Len Chapple. Under his powerful influence regarding everything to do with working in the orchard. After all, I was only employed to help prune for six months. I stayed eleven years, during which time I married, and we had four children.
Len Chapple taught me everything about the vine and its branches. I have used these profound principles over and over again in my sermons. During pruning time I spent many hours with the ‘old boss’, as I came to call him, debating the Bible and Christian concepts. The old Boss taught me the foundations of vine reproduction and at the same time pointed out the parallel of Christ’s, ‘I am the vine you are the branches.’ This principle became foundational for me in later years as I established new church groups and ministered in many towns around South Australia.
I came to realize that I would only ever be a block hand if I stayed in the fruit business. I would never be able to buy a block of my own. With little education and no money, I was in limbo. I had gone as far as I could in the fruit business thanks to Len Chapple. The era of his mentoring was over, and a new phase was about to begin .
MENTOR IN STEEL INDUSTRY
I gained a job with Grant Telfer Engineering to drive a truck delivering new steel framed sheds to customers all over the river-land. At first, I had to spend six months in the factory on the floor until the current driver retired. Before six months finished Grant Telfer, owner and boss, came to me and said, “Bruce you are staying in the factory, you are a natural with tools and machines. So began a new mentorship in a new direction.
I worked personally under Grant for many months and received a crash course on welding and building machines. The next step was a promotion to the position of foreman, which I refused because my education was too poor to do the book work. After some negotiation I became the leading hand, meaning that I had to organize the men, and as Grant said, I was skilled in. I loved the work and gained an immense amount of knowledge in very short time. My tool collection grew as well as my wage. Grant was an excellent mentor and in all things set me up for many years amongst men. From this position I was able to flow out into areas of spiritual ministry.
The years of fruit growing and industry provided me with money and associates for ministry. A very close friendship grew between myself and Frank Graetz, a Christian orchardist from Renmark.
It was through Frank’s influence that a book titled the Blood Covenant by E W Kenyon came across my desk. On reading it, my life changed, and new directions opened up. It was water to my thirsty soul. The Covenants of God took on new meaning; my preaching became the fire in my innermost being. My right to be a partner with God down here on earth was born into my whole being and has never left me . The fire of God is always there.
With Frank and his wife Sylvia, we began a ministry amongst Aboriginal people of the River-land. These people at that time were rejected as outcasts by society. Our involvement developed into a great ministry lasting a decade or more. Every weekend would see our two families ministering in home meetings, Sunday Schools and meeting wherever there was a group of people wanting to hear the Gospel. At this stage, we were working for a living to pay for our ministry.
MENTORS IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM
At the beginning of this ministry, Ron Englis, newly married, came to work in Berri. He and his wife Margaret joined our group for prayer and discussions every week. Ron was God’s man in God’s time come to shake my stubborn theological soul. When I argued with him about the truth of speaking in tongues, God demonstrated the fact with a sign, striking me dumb. I was unable to talk for several minutes, and I knew the truth of speaking in tongues.
Through Ron’s witness, I was exposed to Pentecostal influence and the work of the Holy Spirit. He thought his time in the Riverland had not born much fruit, but God meant otherwise. I found the power of God not only in the Word of God but became baptized in the Spirit and found the ‘power of God from on high’ empowering me to minister the Word with the power which never left me. It was no longer just knowledge but power and authority.
From this point, I came into contact with two evangelists. Dick Piety an illiterate Aboriginal man from Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales. His ministry was very powerful and Acts Chapter 2 became a real life experience for me, every day. Dick didn’t speak with the best King’s English, but under his ministry, I experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit, the speaking in tongues.
I was taught in my early years that these experiences were not for this day and age, yet under Dick’s ministry, I had received them in the fullness of the Spirit. No more would I speak against them because daily we were witnessing miracles of change and everywhere there was action.
Working with Dick was his nephew Pastor Burt Hollingsworth from Cairns, Queensland. Burt was a fiery young Pentecostal preacher with a great work ethic. Burt was the leader of a gang of cane cutters when cane was cut by hand with a machete. It was hard, backbreaking and dirty work. In the off season Burt and his wife Charmaine, moved south into the Riverland to pick fruit and to evangelize indigenous communities along the River Murray.
Dick Piety, with Burt and a team of Aboriginal Christians from inter –State organized a bush convention in the area of Winkie. At this convention I was filled with the Spirit. It was the beginning of a great rapport in the Lord with Burt. Our ministries were parallel, he in Queensland and I in South Australia. I gained much from associating with these men of God.
The other evangelist I met was Cliff Beard, Aussie Evangelist. At first, Cliff was evangelizing by being a traveling photographer. He needed to earn a living to support his family and ministry. We soon became buddies and colleagues; his mentorship was another step in my growth. Through him, I joined the Christian Revival Crusade under the ministry of Pastor Leo Harris.
Pastor Leo Harris taught the Creation-Life from Paul’s writing in Ephesians, emphasizing the scripture from Ephesians, ‘I am a new Creation in Christ, old things have passed away, and all things have become new.’ At this point, a marked change occurred in my life from trying to do it all. I realized Christ had done it all for me. The personal sweat has gone, I am free from religious dogma. ‘With great power, the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.’ Act 4: 33, is a scripture that became a passionate slogan in my life as I came to understand what Christ gave me by his death and resurrection as is written in Galatians 2: 20, ‘I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.’
Pastor Leo was very gracious to me; he became a distant mentor as I never attended his Bible College, the pressure of a revival didn’t allow time to attend. In 2016, I received a plaque celebration 50 years service in the Christian Revival Crusade
Cliff Beard further mentored me in the teaching of righteousness, ‘God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of Christ.’ 2 Cor.5: 21. This insight was life changing. Through Cliff, I found my authority in God as a totally forgiven person able to declare Christ’s righteousness as my own. This knowledge was power; it gave me the right to work in uprightness, It meant I learned to stand tall and not be put down anymore because of a lack of education or regrets. God had given me a charge of authority and resolution. Personally, I maybe a ‘nobody’ but I am invested with Christ’s righteousness now and forever.
This ongoing revelation by the Holy Spirit has meant that God has always spoken to me and kept me up with what he is about; it has been very precious to live in the continual mentoring of the Holy Spirit.
IT'S NOT THE END
Now in these last days of my walk, it hasn’t stopped. There is a lot of religious conjecture about so-called hyper-grace; I believe God’s grace is hyper it is complete, I have a certainty that every sin and failure was paid for on the cross. Christ paid it all. Our interpretation is not the question; our acceptance is what it is all about. Calvary covers it all.
I love the modern revelation as preached by Pastor Prince of Hong Kong and Andrew Wommack, Paul Ellis with his web page Escape 2 Reality. Reject the fullness of God’s grace if you wish but I will not. God has always mentored me and spoken to me, and when needed provided great mentors to guide me. I trust him totally.
Trying to be good is a useless exercise when the revelation breaks over our heart and mind. The frustration of trying to be good and failing was a thing of the past. Instead of being a struggling mortal, the right to be a co-worker with Christ with all his support as the righteous Son of God, it soon lifts you out of your stumbling self-righteousness that you can never sustain.
We inherit all that Christ has and is. As Jesus is so are we in this world. We are the children of righteousness. Salvation is a fact, salvation is now, today, a free gift.
I praise God for Cliff Beard; he didn’t only teach, he delivered the action worldwide. I am blessed to have been at his side in the evangelizing of the Riverland. He is now at rest with his beloved Saviour.
I would like to commend to readers of this record the following scriptures:
‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…that he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.’ Eph. 2: 6-7.
‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’ Romans 11: 33.
‘For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5: 17
‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.’ 1 Timothy 1:14.
Author: "You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page" - Jodi Picoult