A Construction Chaplain’s approach to a Muslim new convert

As a Chaplain to one Australia’s largest high rise construction companies, represented by hundreds of workers from over 60 nationalities, my role was stealth until a need arose.

(Run for a friend ; was a suicide awareness campaign we rolled out over a period time to help people open up about their struggles)

The following story depicts why such campaigns are encouraged and that no one should be left behind.

The young man was an apprentice mechanic and he would make every effort to strike a conversation with me when I did my rounds. I also noticed a change in his demeanour and the tone of his voice, sounding softer with a sincere inquisitiveness about spiritual subjects.

Through other work colleagues it came to my attention that this young man was delving in Islam and he was being bullied at the same time by a manager.

Over the following weeks it was apparent that this young man was going through some dramatic changes. My concern for him grew when he started taking days off as well as hearing that the subtle bullying was ongoing.

My concern wasn’t just because I was the company Chaplain, but I know what it’s like to be a seasoned MisFit, I felt obliged to disrupt this young man and go the extra mile to talk about things that really mattered.

His search for meaning beyond just a job led him to Islam. He tells me of his troubled life and yearned for peace of mind, love and a place to belong. Clearly at the time his manager was intolerant, demeaning and very uncomfortable with this young man’s desire of human equity and respect.

Government and work place policy on discrimination, fair work and tolerance will never wipe away the insidious disease of hate and bigotry. Hate and bigotry have ways of going deep beneath the surface and twisting everything that is wholesome.

This manager was being justified by his ability to do the work allocated to him all the while destroying the confidence of a young man that was different.

My concern wasn’t just for this young man’s apprenticeship, I was also concerned by his radical transformation and religiosity. Who was speaking into his ear? Who was influencing him and what was their intention? How quickly was this young man prepared to isolate himself from his workplace and his friends?

I stopped him at one of the construction sites and we opened up about bullying, religion, family, values and anything else he was wanting to talk about. I then looked him in the eyes and just told him that he was deeply loved by God and that I cared about him.

I then encouraged him about his new found faith and gave him tips about being the best example of a Muslim by following two simple moral laws

1. Love God with your whole heart

2. Love humanity the way God loves you

By following these two moral laws, this young man was assured a path that would protect him from radicalisation and being bullied in the work place.

After discussing the simple challenge of what it is to be loved and to love, he looked me in the eyes and appreciated the best thing I could offer him which was a care factor with the pragmatic tools to get through another day.

My hope is that this young mechanic will spend the rest of his life searching for a life of significance and if converting to Islam is part of that journey, more power to him.

Fortunately that manager lost his job soon after and in all sincerity I hope he doesn’t get another job until he checks his bigotry at the rubbish tip and discovers significance for himself.

As a devout Christian and world citizen, I’ve been on this spiritual journey for over forty years and I’m yet to outdo those two simple moral laws I shared with that young man which has protected me from radicalisation while looking for and living a significant life.

Loving God and loving people’

For the nonbeliever among us, the laws vary just a little,

1. Love people the way you would like to love yourself

2. Love yourself

The value of backing a friend is immeasurable, and who is my friend?

Anyone within our sphere of influence

Taking the lead and calming the storm

As a trouble shooter for a high rise construction company, I’d often visit frustrated clients wanting a resolve with an apparent defect.

By the time the problem reached me, there would be all sorts of opinions flying around looking to lay blame, especially when there are a few stakeholders.

A property manager, a Strata manager, a building manager, council of owners, tenant, landlord, builder, developer, city council to name a few..

The first thing you understand about human behaviour is, being rational and objective isn’t all that common, especially when an opinion has already been formulated.

I’d often arrive with no preconceived ideas deliberately and would endeavour to be impartial even though I represented the builder.

I maintain a simple policy which is to ‘Trust everybody and verify everything’, this simple process of fact finding and the elimination of hearsay would allow the problem to resolve itself.

Taking the lead doesn’t imply pushing our agenda, taking the lead takes the initiative to get to the facts and seek the most equitable solution.

I particularly enjoyed visiting this client and after talking through every issue that was annoying him, he calmed down and we nutted out a solution.

I then turned to his helmet selection on his shelves and we talked about his hobby, making medieval weapons, the above Templar helmet was a perfect fit. (We had a great laugh trying on the helmets)

I believe we can approach many toxic environments and turn the spirit of that meeting if we don’t approach the problem already set in our ways.

Stay open, be objective and don’t lose your cool.

Crooked Spire, epitome of a destination cafe

The most unlikely atmosphere in the most unlikely location, Crooked Spire located at 71 Victoria St, Midland is the winner of 2018 Swan Chamber business of the year award and when you visit, it’s not hard to understand why?

The moment you walk in you’d be hard pressed to locate yourself anywhere in Perth.

There is interesting eclectic furniture and art where ever your eyes drift to.

The stage at one corner, sound system second to none and the perfect beats in the background suggests there’s talent sprinkled among the cafe staff.

Fortunately I know the owner from a previous life and I’m truly impressed that he and the whole team at Crooked Spire have successfully translated their spirit and character into the venue.

While having my coffee with my friends, I reconnected with an old professional acquaintance who just walked in and noted young and old from all walks of life who’ve made Crooked Spire their obvious cafe destination.

A very unique cafe that reflects quality service, food and beverages.

In challenging times within the retail and dining sector, Crooked Spire is going against the trend with their success, clearly stirring the imagination of possibilities.

They are the epitome of what Smart City Perth is all about.

If you are remotely in the Midland area, it’s a must.


Modern day John the Baptist, where are you?

Why, in such a modern technological world are we still riddled with political and religious fervour?

Mankind is bent on the few controlling the masses and no political or religious entity is immune to its intoxicating grip.

While religion likes to consider John the Baptist as their own and the militant atheist disregards the supposed mad man in the desert, John the Baptist walked to the beat of a different drum.

In a time where the political and religious power were carving up lands, holding on to positions of privilege and controlling the masses, John the Baptist starts a movement in the desert.

The politicians and the religious establishment dismissed him as a non threat, with no land or political sway, UNTIL?

You and I as world citizens are free to be open, to share what we believe, especially in the western culture which many consider to be the free world, UNTIL?

You become a person of influence.

The moment you become a person of influence, even if you’re minding your own business, you’ll draw the attention of the political and religious establishment and they will consider how you’ll effect what they believe to be their land and positions of power.

To the modern day John the Baptist, keep adhering to your God given conscience and speak what’s in your heart and like John the Baptist, with no sword or weapon in his hand you’ll bring down the walls of the establishment that have forgotten their public duty.

Maybe the movement in the desert is a new business idea or social enterprise and you’ve been gripped in your heart to follow through. I encourage you to believe it, speak it and walk it and you’ll influence others to see beyond politics and religion as you ignite in them to live a conscience driven life.

The effect that a conscience driven person has on society is immeasurable.

PERTH – Let’s Build at least 200 more Concerto’s please

We must get with the times if we’re going to be a real world class SMART CITY.

Perth has all the trappings of a world class city and is well within reach of creating the smartest city in the world if it would slow down its urban sprawl and focus on populating our inner city hubs.

If we were to build another 200 38 story apartments like the Concerto Apartments building located in East Perth we’d facilitate approximately another 100,000 people within the greater CBD of Perth and we’d still be years behind Melbourne or Sydney.

It’s not a matter of should we, it’s a matter of how can we?

City of Perth must prepare itself for the growth right through its 20 square kms plus of inner city space as well as other major city hubs within the greater Perth in order to bring a 24/7 heart beat like any world class city.

With its current 20,000 plus residents in the inner city how do we expect this city to be to be put on the world map?

The world is waiting to participate in filling our universities with students as well as international businesses making Perth a Head Office home to their interests within Asia.

Let’s see that number grow by at least another 100,000 in the inner city to begin walking the walk and talking the talk calling our selves a Smart City.

Wise people seek the divine among us

I’d hate the thought of three strange rich men visiting my poorest of conditions and revealing to me my new born child’s complete destiny till the day of his death, what parent would want to know that?

The most unusual story of three wise men from the east following a star to bare gifts to a baby called Emanuel, meaning ‘God with us’

In a world filled with grief and uncertainty, these men felt compelled to search out and help resource humanities love, hope and redemption.

When these wise men found the baby called Emanuel in the poorest of conditions, they didn’t seek to change the circumstances, they simply laid at his feet their devotion of love.

They recognised him as a future king and priest by giving him the gifts of gold and incense. Finally they surrendered the baby’s destiny and accepted Emanuel’s ultimate sacrifice that he would endure, by the gift of mir, preparing him for his burial.

As a parent, I would’ve gladly accepted the gold and incense but asked them to keep the mir.

As a parent I’d be fine with a prophetic word that my child would impact the lives of many, but I’d be horrified to know my child would die before me as part of their destiny.

Fortunately these young parents were led by the Devine as were these wise men and they set the stage for the Devine to walk among us.

Emanuel born in sorrow, died in sorrow that we all may experience Emanuel, God with us.

In an age of technology, prosperity and busyness many have lost their soul and meaning for life.

Just know Emanuel is among us shedding the light of love, hope and renewal the moment we acknowledge our need for such a deep human experience.

Not quite a cathedral but you have to have vision

It was a privilege to connect my old Pastor friend of 38 years with my my first boss, my cousin from my teenage years, to reignite life to this old reception centre in the city of Swan.

This building on the corner of Great Northern Highway and Toodyay Road, Middle Swan was full of life in its heyday.

Imagine over 800 people congregating between this building and the restaurant next door close to forty years ago.

My uncle and cousin had an ability to live by the mantra of that old Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams with that famous quote ~ ‘Build it and they will come’

Unfortunately this building hasn’t seen life like they did in the eighties.

It was thrilling to visit New Destiny Christian Centre as they had their first service on the 1st December 2018 and seeing new families congregate in the tired old building.

The Pastor, Steve Cowan who is a gifted tradesman and people’s person shared a vision of the future of the building and creating a new community centre.

The atmosphere on the Sunday morning was raw and filled with life.

The church is setting out to be relevant and have joined the Swan Chamber of Commerce wanting to add value to the business community with their innovative ideas.

In 2019 they have great plans to refurbish the building and give it a new lease of life. More importantly, they are keen to provide all sorts of services to the community of Swan.

Let’s keep an eye on Destiny Christian Centre and see their story unfold and hopefully we’ll see hundreds benefit from their existence in the area.

The building is not quite a cathedral, but you have to have vision that sees the positive effect they will have in the community.

I’m sure my late uncle who built the building would be amused that the reception centre would end up being a church but a smart outlook would go with the flow. My cousin is thrilled to see the building being used as a community centre within the city of Swan, seeing the need in the area.

‘Build it and they will come’