It was eye-opening to discover God was very much alive and wanted to be part of my life.
“I looked at these kids who were looking at me. There was a stunned silence and I said, ‘I’m sorry guys, I’ve got nothing.”
“It was quite terrifying. We were looking at $25-thousand dollars of unpaid expenses.”
“I sat down and the poor old youth pastor had to bumble on and he was all embarrassed and I was all embarrassed, and I thought, ‘That’s it. I am done. I am never going to stand in front of a crowd again.”
This is author Dave Reardon discussing his early steps of faith.
Dave the journo
Before Dave Reardon went into full-time ministry he was a journalist who had worked for a number of newspapers.
The storms we face as humans are one thing, but when you’re a journalist storms were usually linked to bad weather somewhere.
If it was a cyclone or a tornado we’d wait for the phone call and we’d be sent on assignment to wherever the weather was likely to cause damage.
“I remember one time there was Cyclone Vance and it was going to cross the coast, and normally cyclones peter out once they cross and dump a lot of rain,” Dave said.
“But this time it was a big one and it was going to hit a little town called Exmouth and they’d sent me up to the tail end of the cyclone which was absolutely terrifying.”
The’ Wild West’ reporter
Dave Reardon and his cameraman were flown into the cyclone area in a little charter plane.
“The wings were banging around and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. The wings were flapping and I didn’t think they were meant to do that. It was scary,” Dave was quite frightened.
But this was his job. He was the wild west reporter.
We landed in this town where around 75 percent of the buildings had been destroyed by Cyclone Vance, a category 5.
“This was one of the worst cyclones since Cyclone Tracy that had wiped out Darwin.”
“It was incredible. We spent most of the morning picking our way through the debris looking for people who had survived.”
Bernice the Brave
Dave spoke about a lady called Bernice whose house was demolished. The roof was gone and the windows smashed.
Fortunately, Bernice, an older woman, wasn’t there and they found her at a shelter handing out blankets and clothes.
Her whole attitude was ‘Well, there are people worse off than me.
“I didn’t know how that could be,” as Dave prompted Bernice to share what happened when the cyclone struck.
“As the roof came off I hid next to the couch and I sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ and she told us about the wonderful old hymns she’d been singing.”
“And she said, ‘Well, if it’s my time to go it’s my time to go.”
A hero of the Faith
“She lived of course and not only that, very quickly she was looking for an opportunity to help others who, in her mind were worse off than her,” Dave recalled.
“It was just one of those little moments in journalism where you go, this woman is a hero.”
She will never preach on a stage but what a hero of the Faith.
She was a perfect picture of the calm in the midst of a storm.
“She had her faith, the roof was coming off, it was just terrifying, but she had that anchor that just tied her down,” was how Dave described Bernice’s faith at the height of the cyclone.
“Life can be going along swimmingly and that’s fantastic and we enjoy those moments but often there are clouds.”
God was very much alive
“As we read the Bible there’s a reason why the Lord keeps reminding us to hold onto your faith and stick with it because there are tough times coming.”
Dave had studied journalism and marketing at University in Western Australia saying that was where he came to faith.
It was eye-opening to discover God was very much alive and wanted to be part of my life.
“While studying journalism I was involved in the local youth ministry and helped out there.”
In fact, Dave was just a very new Christian, a few weeks old, when he was asked to lead a home group.
‘OK guys, that’s it’
“I had no idea why they did this but they said, ‘We reckon there’s a bit of leadership on your life’, and they said, ‘Why don’t you become a life-group leader?’”
So there’s Dave, a new Christian in front of a group of youths, who shut his Bible after a 12-minute presentation and said, ‘OK guys, that’s it. I’m out of here.
The life group was meant to run for an hour.
“They said, ‘That’s a bit short, shall we meet again next week?’ And I said, ‘Well, you can come next week, I’m not coming.”
“It wasn’t for me. I was a disaster. And they did meet next week and someone else did a much better job than I ever did,” Dave reported.
‘Do something even though you think you can’t’
In hindsight perhaps it hadn’t all been a lost cause for Dave and he did get involved in the youth ministry.
“Well, I wanted to do something even if I didn’t think that I could,” confessed Dave as he took a step of faith.’
It’s probably a good motto, ‘Do something even though you think you can’t.’
Good things happened as a result of Dave’s youth ministry decision. He found himself coming alongside indigenous kids and he was given another opportunity to speak at another youth group.
“That was a big deal as I’d never had that opportunity before and so I thought, ‘You beauty, I’ll do this.”
Dave thought he’d done all the right preparation this time and off he went to speak to another youth group.
‘Sorry guys. I’ve got nothing.’
“They introduced me and said, ‘This is Dave and he’s doing all these great things and he’s going to share around the Word,’ and I opened up Matthew chapter 12.”
But Dave looked at Matthew chapter 12 and it wasn’t the Scripture he thought was there.
“Actually guys, it’s Mark chapter 12.” Another rustle of Bible pages turning now to Mark. Nope. It wasn’t Mark 12. Try again. It must be Luke chapter 12.
It’s not looking at all good for Dave, again.
“I rocked on my heels. I had no idea and I had no experience to just converse with them off the cuff. Improvise, make something up.
So I looked at these guys, and said, ‘Sorry guys. I’ve got nothing.
As far as Dave was concerned he was never ever going to speak in front of a group again. Famous last words of course, when you’re a Christian.
‘My job – run this camp’
Next Dave met his partner for life, Ann, and they married not long before he was asked to go into full-time ministry.
(Ann produces one of the world’s favourite cooking shows, ‘How To Cook That’.)
“Then the state we were working for came and tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Would you like to take over the responsibilities for the state youth ministry?”
For Dave and his wife Anne this was definitely the biggest thing they had ever attempted.
We threw ourselves into it and it was my job to run this camp which was the first thing we had to do.
This was to be a four-day camp catering for 700 people on a shoe-string budget. Dave did the sums and made the bookings for lighting, speakers, and so on.
But two weeks out from the camp Dave spoke to the people taking registrations.
‘It was quite terrifying’
“How are we going for numbers?” asked Dave and they said, ‘There are about 250 people registered,’ which was a long way off 700 but I thought well maybe they come in late.”
A week to go and only 350 people. Then 450.
It was quite terrifying. We were looking at $25-thousand dollars of unpaid expenses.
“So I rang up somebody in the know and asked when the 700 people would be registered and he said, ‘what do you mean?’”
“He said, ‘700 people come to the camp, but 250 of them come at night for free.”
For Dave, he could see himself being sworn in and sacked as the state’s ministry leader on the same night.
‘Time for a miracle – a bus full of kids’
All those old insecurities came swarming back into Dave’s mind as they did on those early speaking engagements. But he had more faith to work with this time.
My wife and I agreed, ‘If God saves us that’s awesome, but if we’re thrown in the fire, so be it.
In short Dave and Ann’s house was on line, it was security for the camp. Should it fail, goodbye house.
Time for the miracle. Long story short, everybody’s at the camp, all the full-paying 450 of the 700 required. Not enough.
Then in rolls a big bus with 50 more full-paying youths who hadn’t registered.
But wait, there’s more! Two more buses full of kids arrived. “So sorry, we forgot to register,” said their youth leaders apologetically.
Dave said this had never happened before and it has never happened since.
‘I’ve only just started’
In fact, over the next 30 minutes there were five to six buses total arrive at the camp with unregistered kids.
“Off these buses came 250 kids completely unannounced, the exact number we needed to get to 700.”
But it was though God shushed us and said, ‘I’ve only just started.’
There were miracles and healings happening during the camp. And most importantly for Dave and Ann expecting their first baby, no need to sell the house.”
Hi, I’m Dave … I’m a writer, journalist, speaker, husband, proud dad & somewhere along the line I inadvertently became a YouTuber too.
I was a reporter for 10 years, covering crime, politics and crocodile attacks for major Australian and international newspapers. I loved meeting amazing people (most of them unsung heroes) and also got to swim with dolphins (and from sharks). After that I worked full-time with youth and ran an organisation that, amongst other things, staged all-ages concerts with artists such as Guy Sebastian and Switchfoot.
More recently, much of my energy has been directed online, working with my super-smart wife Ann Reardon to produce HowToCookThat – one of the world’s favourite cooking shows with 2.5M subscribers and 20M viewers each month.
Along the way, I’ve ghost-written books for some great people, had a non-fiction leadership book published and branched into the mysterious world of Young Adult fiction for my first novel ‘The Deep Enders’.
This blog is a bit of a window into my world and my writing. Feel free to follow me on Instagram/Twitter (@docreardon) and enjoy our family’s kitchen adventures at howtocookthat … here’s a recent one below!