In 1997, fifteen years before my father Reuben Donald Elley died, I had a vision of dad in heaven. It is as clear as the day I had it today as I write. Some things get indelibly imprinted on her spirits by Almighty God. The day of our conversion, the day of our baptism in water, the day we first spoke in a heavenly language, any great experiences of the Holy Spirit we’ve ever had.
In 1997, I was worried about my father dying because he’d started to talk about the last period of his life leading to his death. Dad was aged 72 at the time. He’d started to wind back his Christian ministry work.
Dad was a very diligent and very devoted New Zealand Presbyterian minister (pastor) for over fifty years. He was ordained in 1954, and started pastoring his first church, Wanganui East Presbyterian church in 1955, a year before I was born.
I can still remember the building works going on there because the high ceiling timber A frame church was still being completed.
There is on-going debate over whether Wanganui should be spelt and pronounced Wanganui or Whanganui (pronounced Phon-gan-ui). The jury is out on that one. It is thought the Maori originally may have pronounced the place name Wanganui. Because a lot of other Maori place names beginning in “W” were pronounced “Wh” with an “F” sound, many want Wanganui to be pronounced the same way.
My father Don Elley, as he was known, started his Christian pastoral ministry in the town of Wanganui, which has grown to become a small city since then.
Dad was a complex mixture of farm boy, practical Christian caring pastor and cultivated professor of religion.
My father wasn’t perfect but he was an amazing man, and a gentle spirit.
Dad was very devoted to God, and Christian ministry was his life and breath.
Dad had few other interests. Only gardening and reading. No sports although he played very bad golf with his grandchildren Jeremy Elley-Brown and Nathan McKinlay. They loved and greatly appreciated their grandad, who was very funny at times, mildly eccentric and great with children and young people.
Dad and mum liked getting out in the garden. They always had a large and thriving vegetable garden and mum always had an expansive flower and shrub garden, which won awards.
Mum was a very capable floral artist. Floral art was big fad in the 1960s when I was young and I participated in floral art events with mum.
My gifting in art and sculpturing is mum’s inspiration on me.
In 1965 when I was 9 I won a first prize in a sculpting competition, and I was on New Zealand television presenting the space ship I crafted and receiving accolades and an award. This was very early days in New Zealand television and quite an honour. It was in the middle of the 1960s and the race between America and Russians to land a man on the moon was in full swing.
I don’t know what happened to that sculpture of a space ship. I remember it was white and made from a wire frame with paper mache glued on it and designs. This is similar to the techniques used in classical clay and plaster sculpting.
The bond between my father and me and my mother and me was very strong. In fact, mum and dad would confide their deepest secrets only with me. It was the same with Madge Brooker, my maternal grandmother, a very fine woman who only confided her deepest secrets and feelings with me.
This is a photograph of Madge Jean Brooker in her prime. At the time she was the leader of the Wellington Presbyterian woman’s movement. It was in the 1950s when I was born. I don’t know the exact dates but she was leading it for about ten years. The finest of godly woman. She did a lot of hospital visitation for many decades and was a carer of less fortunate until her death aged 92. She was even caring for less fortunate residents in an old people’s home in Howick, Auckland in her final years.
Grandad Brooker was a very gentle, very old-school polite and a reserved man. Sometimes when I observe the manners of people these days, I get quite appalled.
I can weigh a person in an instant from their face. I can tell much about someone from just a short phone conversation. Whether they smoke, whether they suffer from anxiety, their social status and their age. Try closing your eyes and listen carefully the next time you speak to a stranger on the phone when you phone say a public utility.
My father was a highly astute man who could weigh a man, woman or child in an instant.
Dad was a laconic style of man who wouldn’t pry or ask awkward questions, or share much of his personal issues. People would open up to him. He was an expert in pastoral counselling.
Dad wasn’t as assertive or confident as me, in say a sales situation. In my late teens he’d get me to do stuff like sell his car for him.
I once sold a Holden Kingwood that had its whole underside full of rust. They were prone to rust out from the humidity and salty air in Auckland which is surrounded by oceans and harbours.
Dad wasn’t ethically keen to sell a rusty car but I sold it in an instant to some fellow Kiwi looking for a cheap family car. He would have used quite a few cans of bog to fix that rusted up wagon. Caveat Emptor- “Let the buyer beware”. I didn’t conceal the rust but from memory the man said there’s a lot of rust underneath and I replied “that’s why it’s cheap”. He took it anyway. It probably went for a couple of decades before the floor collapsed. It takes a long time for surface rust to take out a car floor.
Dad was always doing stunts like in the above photographs when I was young. There were these metal animals with their heads missing all over New Zealand. The idea was to put your head through and make a funny face.
So dad was this complex mixture of astute caring pastor, soft and loving father, wise and gentle mentor, and incredibly well-educated and well-read man. His general knowledge was vast. I have far more knowledge than dad in geography, history, philosophy, music, art, construction, business, economics, finance, accounting and so on but dad’s knowledge in theology, pastoral counselling and pastoral care, ancient history and general knowledge was vast. Dad would always be reading five books at a time and could speed read a book in no time.
Dad would get the New Zealand Herald crossword out most days, which I never could. Dad was a wordsmith who liked doing crosswords for relaxation.
Dad had four university degrees which is very unusual. He started out to be an industrial chemist and completed a Bachelor of Science. Then he felt called to be a Christian pastor and did a Bachelor of Arts as a preparation for a Bachelor of Divinity. Then dad traveled to the elite Princeton University in Atlanta Georgia and completed a Masters in Theology majoring in pastoral care and evangelism. He wrote a thesis. I have the original in a safe at home.
In 1997, when dad was 72, he started to realise his was in the last phase of his life. Dad had helped hundreds of elderly people, maybe thousands, and had visited countless dying men and women. Dad had buried hundreds of people. This is all part of being a successful Christian pastor.
Dad had taught hundreds of students at the New Zealand Bible College (now called Laidlaw College) as a Professor teaching pastoral care, missions and evangelism, his prime areas specialty. Dad was conversant in Biblical Greek and Hebrew and could teach from anywhere in the Holy Bible- New Testament or Old Testament. Dad’s classes were very popular and some students regarded them as the highlight of their week. They were fortunate to have sat in those classes.
I learnt everything these students were taught and far more from dad shepherding me and mentoring me all my life. Dad was always there for me. Always.
As was my mother Valerie. In fact, from 2008 to 2011 when I was in bed suffering from an illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, caused by a work place stress over-load and physical burn-out my mother Valerie was the best carer. The care was on the phone from New Zealand to Australia.
My sister Margaret who is very controlling, had shut my mother down from travelling. Quite manipulative and wrong.
My brother Fergus and I are estranged from Margaret and her husband Roger Elley-Brown and I am estranged from my younger sister Fiona. She doesn’t like this blog site and me writing against pedophilia and Hillsong and other churches. She thinks I might be a pedophile because I write about pedophiles and pedophilia. Dumb logic. That’s Ok. I have had heaps of attacks for writing what I right. I comes with the territory and is like water off a ducks back for me now.
It isn’t good being estranged from both your sisters but not unusual.
A relationship with my sister Margaret and her husband Roger would be impossible without major changes in the way they treat my brother Fergus. I also don’t like the way they treat me. They are both trained counsellors but not to a high level and are no longer Bible believing Christians, which is sad. More Universalists. Roger Elley-Brown used to be a Baptist pastor.
My father once said “when Roger came into the family a dark cloud came into the family”. Roger and Margaret served it up to my father to. Dad was non-confrontational and absorbed personal attacks without string back, but their treatment of dad was very distressing to him.
Dad was a master at making succinct summaries and observations of the human condition. I think what dad said is true.
Roger and my sister Margaret don’t understand the harm and distress they’ve caused to my younger brother Fergus, who is an invalid pensioner like Frank Houston boy victim AHA.
AHA is an invalid pensioner, as the Royal Commission described him, directly due to Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of him from tender age 7 to age 12. There was some abuse later but the pedophile Frank Houston, the founder of Hillsong’s preferred demography for his victims were pre-teen boys aged 7 to 12.
Frank Houston would abuse male teens or older young men like Peter Lawton, his young worship leader and a pastor of his, if young boys or teens were not available.
Frank Houston may have been a Satanist or Illuminati.
There is evidence that he was in a pedophile ring with Jim Williams, another top Australian and New Zealand Assemblies of God pastor.
In 1997 I was in a Christian worship service and I had a vision of my father Reuben Donald Elley in heaven. He looked like he was aged about forty, in his prime. Dad had angels wings and was walking with a cast throng of people towards an assembly. I could hear the sounds of beautiful music in the background. Dad’s face was radiant and he was very happy and smiling. When dad got to a large entrance there were two huge angels standing there. Dad bowed down to the angels. Like the angel to John the Beloved, the angel said “Do not bow to me. Bow only to Almighty God”. Dad stood and walked into the worship meeting. There were thousands upon thousands worshipping God and singing together along with the Heavenly Host. The vision faded.