Most people in New Zealand are biblically illiterate. They have never been part of a church-going culture. Most do not know of Abraham or Moses or Paul. This makes it a challenge to speak to people about the gospel because they do not have a point of reference. However, the deaths of some Christians in Auckland have focused the attention of the public on Christians and their lives.
When several students from Elim Christian College died earlier this year, there was some discussion about the dignity of the college and bereaved families in the face of tragedy and about faith. There was news of another Christian gentleman, who was known for his constant prayers for the youth of Auckland, who was killed by some young criminal just as he was returning after a prayer meeting.
And now this. Austin Hemmings was only 44. As he was leaving after work in downtown Auckland on Thursday, a woman called for help. She was being punched by a man. Mr. Hemmings did what we hope good men everywhere would do—he went to her aid. Before he knew it, the violent man had stabbed him in his chest. After a few wasted minutes looking for help, he walked up to some construction workers, who helped him lie down. A few minutes later, he breathed his last.
After an interview with the family, the NZ Herald in a story called Slain good Samaritan’s family speak reported:
The close-knit family, who are united by a deep Christian faith, are not angry or bitter about what happened, choosing instead to focus on their love for a man who led by example . . .
“I’ve had 25 wonderful, wonderful years with a man who has a deep faith and love for his family that goes to the core of his being,” she (Mr Hemmings’ wife, Jenny) said.
Craig Hemmings, 50, said his brother was a “humble guy” . . . “
“He’d get up each morning and pray for his family, family friends, work colleagues and his country. He felt very strongly about praying for his country – men standing up and being men in New Zealand.”
Austin Hemmings’ children – Meghann, 19, Jessica, 17, and Gareth, 16 – said their Dad was also their friend.
Meghann described her father as an “incredible role model” who had an “unmovable, unshakeable faith”.
“I really looked up to him and really wanted to please him and always listened intently to what he had to say.”
. . . Family and friends said he was fair and ethical in all his business dealings – a hard-working man of honesty and integrity.
“He worked as if he was working for the Lord,” said Craig. “If you work for God you work as hard as you can.”
. . . The Hemmings family have asked that instead of flowers, people support Mr Hemmings’ favourite charity, Bibles in Action, which raises money to distribute Bibles in the developing world. More information about the project can be found at http://www.biblesinaction.com.
Thank God for people like Mr. Hemmings.
Our sincere condolences to his family; our thoughts and our prayers are with them.