October 24-26, 1998
David Partridge, 33, from Victoria
Two and a half hour wait, Por t Augusta to Erldunda, 1978 Kingswood station wagon
Photo taken on the road between Roxby Downs and Woomera
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David was a missionary on his way to Balimor, Papua New Guinea.
His parents had been missionaries in PNG before him and he’d grown up on a mission station there after his father had been ‘saved’ while attending the Billy Graham Global Mission in 1959. Like his father, David had his first calling to be a missionary after giving his heart to Jesus at the Billy Graham Global Mission in 1995.
However, it had only been a year since David truly decided to dedicate his life to being a missionary. He had been sitting in his room reading a passage in Malachi: Malachi 3, verses 1-10 – ‘Son, just like on the cross I cancelled the debt. I’m going to do the same today: we start again’, (sic) when the Holy Spirit spoke to him and healed him from his mental disorder – an obsessive, compulsive disorder. Receiving the Holy Spirit made him aware of miracles that had been happening all around him in everyday life, and this was the catalyst for his journey to PNG.
The day he picked me up he’d planned on taking his motorbike, but when he woke up that morning God told him to take the car.
Picking me up as a result of this change of plan was, as he saw it, another miracle in his everyday life.
When he initially pulled over, I looked in the back window and saw a couple of planks of wood. “Bloody hell, he’s moving house piece by piece!” I said to myself, until I found out that the planks
were fence palings he’d made into a cross some time earlier.
To fit me in, he had to rearrange everything and this involved quite a bit of work. The car was packed to the gunwales with boxes, bags and containers of all sorts, full of his worldly possessions. Dust covered virtually everything and the interior took on the appearance of a Bazaar on wheels. I’ve no idea how he ever expected to get to PNG on a motorbike.
He moved the car over to the other side of the road and, under the shade of a big old gum tree, set about getting the old Kingswood and its contents into some form of order.
We could see the silhouette of another hitcher about 500m further up the road. David reckoned he could find room for one more, so I was dispatched to get him.
More than an hour after initially pulling over and after much reorganising, David said a prayer and we set off – at a squeeze – with me riding shotgun and David sat in the back.
Tony, the other hitcher, drove and proved to be quite a find. He had a photographic memory and we soon discovered that he’d read the Bible and could quote freely from it, having memorised it from cover to cover. Not only that, he could refer to other Scripture from within the Bible to quantify and back up any of his arguments or statements.
Tony wasn’t overtly religious like David (Tony was hitching to Roxby Downs where he worked as a geologist) and approached the whole thing in the most logical way I’d ever seen anyone do so. He understood the whole Bible and explained it as a unit, rather than trying to force it down your throat, bit by bit, like so many others I’d encountered.
Without intending to, he’d given David a gold mine of preaching quotes, arguments and philosophies. David couldn’t believe his luck and saw this as a sure sign from God that his work in PNG was much needed.
The air was punctuated by exclamations of “Praise Jesus”, “Thank you Lord” and the like – emanating from the back seat of the car as we drove along. Amidst voicing praise to the Lord above, David searched for a pen and paper with which to scribble down the lessons being ‘taught’ from the front seat.
It was kind of eerie – the missionary on his way to PNG, the silhouetted figure of a hitcher in the distance, the photographic memory, the explanation of the Bible.
I thought it was an amazing coincidence, whereas David thought it was a miracle. One man’s coincidence was another man’s miracle.
We had intended dropping Tony off at Pimba where he could hitch the remaining 90km to Roxby Downs, but David wanted to get in writing everything he’d heard.
We sat in the roadhouse at Pimba ie. in the middle of nowhere, discussing in some depth the Bible and what it meant, what it predicted – and more. I don’t think the Pimba roadhouse had ever heard a discussion like it!
We ended up driving Tony the rest of the way out to Roxby Downs and spent the night in his room watching the cricket from Pakistan, while he worked the night shift.
The next morning, Tony gave David some more notes from the Scripture and after an exchange of addresses we were on our way.
It had been one of the most interesting 18 hours of my life.