But his biggest job was running the Adventist Aviation Association in southern Queensland for around 25 years. This meant regularly travelling to the outback and leading successful health awareness programs at numerous country shows over 17 years. An estimated 1200 smokers were able to escape their habit through these programs.
For 30 years, Lawrens refused to pause for a holiday. Although I took one break, we otherwise worked together. There's no better way of promoting stewardship than by one's undivided time.
Then, at age 85, Lawrens had a fall, breaking his hip and damaging his back. So, confined to a wheelchair, his outback work ceased-- but not his outreach!
After moving to the Gold Coast, I would push Lawrens along the sea front every day, where we usually saw a drunk man staggering along and shouting at people passing by. Lawrens would call to him, offering help. After repeated contacts, we learned his name was John.
One day, he ran in front of the wheelchair and shouted, "Stop!" "What can I do for you, friend?" my husband replied. "You're Christians, aren't you? I want to know about Jesus," he said. So Lawrens told him! John promised to reform. It seemed he had turned to drink after blaming his wife for their marriage breaking up, for which he refused to forgive her. We didn't see John for several months. When we did, the change was obvious. He was now helping others instead of drinking. We prayed with him there on the beachfront. When we looked up, we noticed that a group of young people a short distance away had stopped their chatter to listen. As we walked on toward them, one said, "Would you say a prayer for us, too?"
So again, we bowed on the footpath. Again, as we looked up, we could see a number of other people had noticed our prayer and paused near us.
But after that, we did not see John again for a number of years. More than eight years after this event, I was on my own, walking along a coast road. A smart-looking bearded man, who appeared to be in his late 50s, stopped me by saying, "I feel sure I know you! Didn't you walk around the coast years ago, pushing a lovely man named Lawrens in a wheelchair?" "Yes, that was me," I replied. "Lawrens was my husband but sadly, he's died." "What a loss," the man said. "Do you remember a terrible dirty drunk named John you spoke to?" "Yes," I replied. "Well that was me! I'm John." He looked so much younger, healthier and "respectable." "That man put me on the road to a changed life," John added, "I realise I was fully to blame for my marriage failure. It no longer worries me and now I'm sober." How rewarding it is when people step out of our past with a story like that! It happens to me often. Someone will stop me on the street and ask what happened to Lawrens. They might remember talking with him when I left him outside the shops while I bought groceries. They then relate how he'd helped them with advice. Or sometimes the story is from even further back, and they share a memory of help or conversion from time spent with Lawrens. Jesus can do amazing things when we use our time, knowledge and skills for Him.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13.
Joanne Adair is retired and lives at Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God