You meet a big man with a big voice when you meet Rob. He has made his living in the business of trailer and chassis equipment. But he has not always put his energy under the direction of Jesus Christ. He used to recognise Jesus as real, but not fervently enough to go to church of a Sunday.
“I thought I could do it all myself. I’m older now and I’ve realised that for some purpose Jesus has patiently watched over and guarded my life until I’ve understood that it’s his plan for me, not mine, that’s important.”
In 2003 he and his wife moved to the hills and thought they should go to Sunset Rock on Good Friday.
“The service blew our socks off,” Rob says. “We just had to be there Easter Day.”
They joined a home group where Rob, never having been able to pray aloud, learned to do so and no one laughed.
“The patient support of my home group is a real blessing and greatly cherished.”
Now prayer is so important to him that he has initiated Prayers at the Rock, an open time of prayer late on Friday afternoons, where people can speak with God with great freedom in a variety of ways.
It arose from following through on what he saw in Indonesia: a room in an apartment complex devoted to prayer 24/7. People coming and going, music a part of it, led to pray as the Spirit of God leads.
Certain things have opened up for Rob and his wife since they sought to let God put things in their minds. They have been to Indonesia four times in mission teams, building structures in orphanages and training carers. “Every time I’ve prayed we’d have the people we need with the skill set we needed. Every time the Lord provided us with the money, or more than enough. Last time we only had five in the team, half the usual number. We still got the job done, thirty minutes before the plane took off.”
It has been the same with work they have been led to support among Syrian women refugees. Rob is treasurer of the work. “One time we needed $3000. We had $460 twenty-four hours out. I prayed. By the time the transfer needed to happen we had the money and then some.”
And he loves the relationships he has been led to form, deep relationships with men who have done it tough in prison, who have their own profound insights into the ways of God.
This life is a far sight from the way life went before he really engaged with Christ. He will speak of prayer. He will speak of reading the Bible with daily helps. He will speak of the life of his study group. But how God uses these things to direct a person also needs the ingredient of the person being expectant, tuning into God’s leading by making yourself available.
The way it feels in practice for Rob is like this: “I receive ideas that come to me out of the blue that I haven’t been thinking about. This alerts me to think, wow, this must be from God. Affirming that it is from him comes from what follows, and from prayer. God is well aware that I need strong affirmation that the idea is from him and that he wants me to act on it.”
In that sense the whole matter for the person willing to be led is quite experimental: step out in faith when God seems to lead, and see where he takes you.