Going GREYT! 1 Peter 4:10
In Going GREYT! we feature stories of some of our ‘more experienced’ people within the LCANZ, who have been called to make a positive contribution in their retirement. We pray their examples of service will be an inspiration and encouragement to us all as we look to be Christ’s hands and feet wherever we are.
Okay, hands up everyone who has attempted to read the entire Bible from beginning to end! How many of you completed the task? Whether you succeeded or failed, the fact is that reading Scripture end to end is not an easy undertaking!
Put yourselves in the shoes of a new Christian and consider how much more difficult it would be to navigate the language and historical context, not to mention all that fighting and bloodshed. This conundrum is exactly why 82-year-old Derryl Huf, from Port Macquarie in New South Wales, spent the past two years putting pen to paper to write up a 158-page summary of the Bible in plain language with added context.
‘I’ve been surprised how few people have read the Bible from one end to the other’, Derryl says. ‘They say they started but didn’t get far because it was hard going, reading about all the wars, fighting, bloodshed and different tribes.’
For his 80th birthday, Derryl received a lovely ballpoint pen from a church friend which he wanted to put to special use. Studying seven different versions of Scripture for comparison, Derryl filled three exercise books and three biro refills writing the summary.
Twelve months after starting work, he hadn’t made it halfway. ‘I felt I had bitten off more than I could chew and felt it was too hard’, he says. ‘I constantly prayed about this, and everything came together, and my biro was guided by God’s hand.’
Helped by his speed-typing daughter Christine, who transferred the handwritten words to a computer, the summary was finished in August this year. ‘She could type faster than I can read – what a blessing, like all of our kids are’, Derryl says. He has now shared his self-published copies with friends, parishioners, fellow travellers while holidaying, and even his doctor – who grabbed it with both hands, he was so excited, says Derryl.
This latest endeavour is part of a life-long journey of sharing his faith.
Born in the Tabor district of western Victoria, the first boy of eight children, Derryl couldn’t wait until the day after he turned 14 to leave school and work on the family’s mixed farm of sheep, cattle and cropping.
At age 18, he felt called to the ordained ministry. ‘A sermon by (Pastor) EW Wiebusch hit me hard’, he recalls. ‘I wanted to join college and become a minister.’
But having left school so young made studying difficult for him. ‘After a year, I went back home and got very involved in Luther League and working with young people’, he says. ‘I realised that you didn’t have to wear a dog collar to be a minister.’
His local Tabor Lutheran Church had more than 100 youth group members, and so did many of the surrounding towns in the district, such as Tarrington and Hamilton. Derryl was appointed to the league zone executive, becoming president, and helping to run zone rallies, camps and state conventions.
It’s also how he met his future wife, Aileen Unger, who was on the NSW district executive. They were married in 1967 and stayed on his family farm for nine years before moving to Aileen’s hometown of Parkes in NSW.
After the move, Derryl’s urge to witness found him joining the Gideons, which he calls a wonderful introduction to spreading the gospel. ‘You can learn Scripture but if you can’t get it across to others, you are still only part way there’, he says.
Derryl diversified into carting primary produce after buying a semi-trailer to transport his bumper canola crop to Melbourne for crushing. The cost of the truck was less than the haulage charge. So began his carting business, which also led him to become a heavy vehicle driving instructor.
That opened the door to new ways to share the gospel. He received permission to offer his driving students a copy of a Gideon New Testament, also including the Psalms and Proverbs. ‘I had one refusal out of about 1500, and the driving lessons included many questions about why I offered this testament’, he recalls.
Derryl says the whole idea behind his Bible summary is to encourage people to study God’s word, and to make it easier to read. ‘St Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, that you may not be ready for solid food, so start off easy with milk’, Derryl reflects.
While tackling a Bible with around 1750 pages may be enough to scare the average reader, Derryl hopes his two-year journey helps to simply showcase the lifesaving message of the Bible – loud and clear.
However, the summary would never have been written had events on a New Year’s Eve fishing trip in 2003 turned out differently for Derryl. He, Aileen and a friend of the couple were lost at sea for 26 hours after their 20-foot boat capsized off Port Macquarie. Then, as during his challenges working on the Bible summary, Derryl put his trust in God.
Forced to hang onto the overturned hull for more than a day, they were seen by a passing Greek coal ship having drifted 150 kilometres north of where searchers were combing the sea. Derryl had been praying all through the night and felt that God was at work the next morning when their ultimate rescuer, who was winched down from a helicopter, called out to them: ‘Let go of what you are hanging on to, I have come to save you.’
Derryl is happy to share copies of the summary and can be contacted at email@example.com
Helen Brinkman is a Brisbane-based writer who is inspired by the many GREYT people who serve tirelessly and humbly in our community. By sharing stories of how God shines his light through his people, she hopes others are encouraged to explore how they can use their gifts to share his light in the world. Know of any other GREYT stories in your local community? Email the editor firstname.lastname@example.org