NL 2022-07-19.FP_1

Thanks Dad, For Fun & Brave!

As a young man, I grew up on a dairy farm out near Tatura Victoria, on a family farm of around 450 acres. The farm was my adventure and dad’s teaching space about God, along with my siblings, climbing hay stacks, riding the Ag bike and Grey Massey Ferguson to round up cattle.
My dad valued God’s creation and would often teach God’s Word using illustrations from God’s creation on the farm, the importance of hard work, sowing, risk and yields.
Dad was the Sunday School superintendent and elder at our Church, coordinating a group of teachers to grow a thriving Sunday School program over several years, running weekly with two 51-seater buses collecting young people each Sunday morning throughout the Shepparton streets. In the 80s, he and his team decided to run in the local Shepparton City street parade using the two big 51-seaters and a farmer’s Bedford truck tray, converting them into two colourful floats. The team fitted out the two buses to look like Noah’s Ark and the other with the theme of ‘Bullfrogs & Butterflies’, taken from a sing-along tune in the Sunday School program that declared God’s transformation of one’s life from old to new, demonstrating how God can change our nature from within.
The principle of metamorphosis in creation is God’s handiwork and was a terrific theme that was embraced by the kids. Both buses and tray truck had children waving animal pictures hanging from the Ark and peering from the windows.
A worship band played worship songs on top of bails of hay on the truck, including this young teenager and his mates—I played alto-saxophone recall sheet music kept blowing its way off the stand and I had to learn to improvise the tunes from memory very quickly. It was a bold display of public religion for a teenager, but actually became one of the Church’s most enjoyable and impacting events for the fellowship and its place in the wider community.
While freedoms today are changing all around, that doesn’t mean that back then, it was in any way more or less socially acceptable. But isn’t it great that they had faith to be brave and bring the Gospel to the community in such a fun way.
The town saw the Churches had fun that year, along with other floats from other community groups; the local community were able to see that the Church were real people, authentic and able to have fun together. The Sunday school grew at its peak to just over 120 children. Dad helped them train up new generations of leaders to continue the work into later decades, continuing the teaching of young hearts. Well done to this teaching team and for Gary and Barb Duke, who found that fun children’s tune and challenged my dad to be daring. Though that theme song was a US make and is dated now, it was very well developed in its ability to bring children into God’s story and reveal how God can transform us into His image. I encourage Churches today to include children in their community of faith and simply have fun. ‘For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these…’ Mk 10:13-16.

  • Tribute to Dad: Max McDonald 17 July 1941 to 1 Oct 2020.
  • Douglas K McDonald, 16 July 2022