Time in Adelaide
In 1988 when I was just three, our family moved to Adelaide where Dad took up position as general secretary of the Assembly of God church in Australia.
It was during this time my parents returned to England for a short visit to bring my maternal grandmother, Nana Kidd, back to Australia to live with us. She would live with us for the next eleven years. It was a testament to Dad’s patience, compassion and love for family to observe how he partnered with Mum in the care for his mother-in-law.
After a couple of year’s faithful ministry, Dad became unsettled with the direction the church movement was taking. Dad was a man of strong conviction and resolute in defending the truth of the Gospel. When his words were not persuasive, he decided he had to move on.
In May 1992, Mandy and Jeff were married one weekend; David and Melisa married the following weekend and within a couple of weeks Dad, Mum, Nana Kidd and myself were on a plane to New Zealand.
Time in Hamilton
We eventually settled in Hamilton; a town in the centre of the North Island. Hamilton, renowned to be bleak, foggy and damp, was a place of great warmth for our family. The years in Hamilton were graced with happy news from across the Tasman Sea. Firstly, news of the impending arrival of David and Melisa’s son Aaron, then Jeff and Mandy’s son Joshua, arrived the following year. Another addition to both families occurred the following year; Michael then Amy. Dad, Mum and I began regular visits back to Australia to meet and spend time with the grandchildren.
This was a time of searching for Dad; finding the next step in his ministry. It was during this time Dad started publishing a magazine entitled ‘Contending Earnestly for the Faith’. He would write and publish this magazine for the next 20 years. The testimonies of people who have been helped, encouraged and changed by Dad’s writings have flowed in through the years.
Dad was generous in the time he spent with me and gently pushed toward two of his recreational passions; tennis and chess. He had me marked out as the next Pete Sampras with views toward a comfortable retirement on match winnings. Alas, I lacked both talent and interest in both pastimes and my eight-year old ego couldn’t handle being beaten all the time. I like to think taking up table tennis years later was a happy compromise between the two.
Time in Blenheim
As Dad’s parents aged, Dad and Mum felt led to move close to them in order to help Aunty Ruth and Uncle Darrell care for them. We packed up our life in Hamilton and moved to Blenheim. In contrast to Hamilton, Blenheim is known as the sunshine capital of New Zealand and aptly provided the setting for some of the happiest years in our family life.
It was during this time, Dad and Mum received more happy news. Grandson number four was on the way and Izack Lewis Pitman joined the family clan shortly thereafter.
Time in Brisbane
It was time to move on again and Dad heeding the call to ministry in Brisbane; this third emigration to this sunburnt country was Dad’s last big move and the longest we lived together in one place. Dad and Mum built a house. Dad planted a new church which grew under God’s power from a household Bible study meeting into a flourishing church filled with people who know and love Jesus.
There were difficult times for the family as Nana Kidd declined in health and mental lucidity. I remember the strength Dad displayed during this time as he supported Mum.
There was richness in time spent with family. Jeff and Mandy moved to Brisbane and got stuck-in serving with Dad and Mum at the church. David and Stephen would visit Brisbane regularly with family.
Another grandson was brought into the world; Lewis who bears the Christian name of his Great-great-grandfather, and middle names of his great-grandfather, grandfather, father and others in the family lineage.
Nearly two years ago, Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This was the start of an emotional rollercoaster ride for the family which culminated in Dad leaving this world last Sunday morning, 26 th April 2015. During these years, Dad continued with longsuffering. He kept preaching. He continued writing and publishing; his final work, a blog on Psalm 23 was completed in April. His faith held firm; if possible, he trusted Jesus even more.
My Dad was a great man.
Dad was a man of unusual tastes. He had a strong bent towards applying cheese as a topping to foods most people wouldn’t associate with cheese. Like apple pie.
Dad was a man of generosity. I remember him giving ten dollars to a boy at church who had lost the same from his pocket on the way to church; a beautiful picture of Christ- like love and grace; restoring what had been lost to someone undeserving. It has stayed with me and taught me to strive to place the needs of others before my own.
Dad was a man of faith. His trust in God was unshakable though often tested. He trusted His Saviour to provide for the family during times of little income. God never left us in want or need and with Dad’s careful stewardship of God’s provision; Dad never let us down either.
Dad was a man of integrity. His courageous stand has shattered strong friendships; friendships which he held dear. He counted the cost of following His master and counted earthly things as loss next to the call of God on his life.
I have tried to highlight some moments with Dad that have stood out to me - his courage and his integrity; his generosity; his humour, his idiosyncrasies; his passion and total commitment to the Gospel. His love and care for his family. However, all these things are only the icing on the cake. Or in Dad’s case, the cheese on the apple pie! You see all these things are great and so important; they enrich life, they make the cake taste good. But Dad’s life could have lacked all these things and still been everything it needed to be because Jesus died for him and redeemed Dad for himself. On the flipside, if Dad’s life was all icing and no cake; today wouldn’t be a day for rejoicing. The Apostle Paul describes the Christian life as foolishness if Jesus wasn’t resurrected. I could only look back as the years of sacrifice and suffering as waste if I wasn’t convinced the Gospel Dad proclaimed is true.
So here I stand, looking back on the life of a man I was so fortunate to call Dad. I’m not a top seeded tennis player. I didn’t make it to the Olympics as a table tennis player. I do however take my soup and fruit cake with cheese and the stronger the better. Much of who I am today has been influenced by my years living with Dad and Mum. However, I am most grateful that he passed on to me the most important thing he received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised again. Dad didn’t waste his life and I know I will see him again in God’s eternal kingdom.