“The Man Who Stopped For Ducks”

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Henry Pearce – “Bobby” to his friends – was destined to be a champion rower.

Bobby had the family background for rowing. His father and grandfather were both Australian champion rowers, with Bobby’s dad even representing Australia in the world championships in 1911 and 1913.

So it was no surprise when Bobby Pearce entered a rowing race at the age of six and finished second. What was a surprise was that the race was for fifteen and sixteen year olds!

Bobby earned selection for the Australian team in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games – and even carried the Australian flag an the opening ceremony. At well over six feet tall and close to 100kgs of muscle – Bobby was one of the favourites for the gold medal in the single rowing sculls race.

The Australian rower won his opening two races with ease. It was in his third race, the quarter final race against a French rower – that something happened that became front page news around the world.

In this 1928 Olympic quarter final Bobby Pearce was comfortable leading the race, and here’s what happened next… in Bobby’s own words:

“I had beaten a German and a Dane in earlier heats and I was racing a Frenchman when I heard wild roars from the crowd along the bank of the canal. I could see some spectators vigorously pointing to something behind me, in my path. I peeked over one shoulder and saw something I didn’t like, for a family of ducks in single file was swimming slowly from (one side of the) shore to the other, and they were in my lane.

It’s funny now, but it wasn’t at the time for I had to lean on my oars (and stop my boat) and wait for a clear course, and all the while my opponent was pulling away to a five length lead.”

Bobby let the ducks with their little ducklings pass safely and then he started to row again, trying to chase down his competitor. In an amazing effort that would have been considered impossible for anyone else, Bobby caught and then passed the Frenchman. Bobby won the race in a time faster than the three other quarter finals.

Bobby’s kindness towards a family of ducks made front page news around the world.

Bobby Pearce would win his next two races and the Gold Medal for Australia in those  1928 Olympics – and he won in a record time that wouldn’t be beaten for another 34 years.

This story from Olympic sporting annals is a superb illustration of the simple act of kindness.

Success in any field doesn’t have to be at the expense of care and concern for others in God’s creation. The world may say a soft heart always finishes second, but it’s not true. There is a way to win without wounding.

The story of Bobby Pearce stopping for ducks proves it.

 

 

“When God our Saviour revealed his kindness and love to us he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. The Lord has washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Titus 3:4-6)

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read what the Duke of Wellington can teach us about taking Communion.David speaking 2

Billy Graham… Incognito

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Pastor Billy Graham would sometimes tell the story of a time he travelled to a city in Canada for one of his famous public evangelism campaigns. He arrived a day early and went along to a church service where he sat incognito.

For decades he was one of the most famous Christian communicators, but on his impromptu visit to a Canadian church Pastor Graham was wearing a hat and dark glasses, and no-one recognised him as he sat at the back of the congregation.

As Billy sat alone, he noticed an older gentleman sitting in front of him who was listening intently to the preacher’s words. At the end of the presentation the preacher invited people to come forward to the alter as a symbol of public commitment to Jesus Christ.

In an act of personal evangelism the famous preacher leaned forward and touched the shoulder of the older man sitting in front of him. Billy asked the gentleman:  “Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down the front with you if you’d like.”

Pastor Graham says the elderly gentleman looked at him, thought for a moment, and then responded: “No, I think I’ll just wait for the big gun Billy Graham to come tomorrow night.”

While the story is funny in a small way, it does underline a bigger issue – the problem of Christians thinking the job of evangelism is for the “Big Guns”; famous preachers in large auditoriums. But for thousands of years the kingdom of God has expanded one soul at a time. The Gospel has mainly spread through one person’s willingness to extend themselves to someone else.

Rather than “evangelism” being the job of the Big Shots in large auditoriums and stadiums, the spreading of the Gospel is often the result of the small sacrifices of humble followers of the Saviour.

How is God wanting to use you as an agent of his grace today?

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read what the Duke of Wellington can teach us about taking Communion.David speaking 2

When Success Comes Through Helping Others

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Every athlete dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal in their chosen event, but even among professional athletes very few have the privilege of standing on the highest dais when the medals are presented.

But there is one very special award given at each Olympic Games to only one athlete. It’s the “Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy” – named after the French founder of the modern Olympic movement.

The Fair Play Trophy is given to one athlete every four years who is deemed to have exhibited the spirit of fairness, compassion, and good-sportsmanship.

The first ever Fair Play Trophy was awarded to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti in the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics. It was for a gesture that exhibited incredible selflessness. Monti was representing Italy in the two-man bobsled event at the 1964 games, and was the competition’s leader after his final run. The only competitor with a chance to beat Monti was a British bobsledder named Tony Nash.

As Nash and his teammate prepared for their final run, they discovered that a critical bolt on their sled had snapped at the last moment. Without the crucial part the Great Britain team couldn’t make their final run and the Italian team would win gold.

Eugenio Monti of Italy was informed of his competitor’s problem. Without thought or discussion, Monti immediately took the corresponding bolt from his own sled and sent it up the mountain to Nash.

Nash fixed his sled with Monti’s part, then came hurtling down the course to set a record and win the gold medal.

He may have came second, but Monti won the hearts of his nation and was awarded the first ever Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy.

This Olympic story from over half a century ago reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Scripture:  Let nothing you do be done through selfish ambition or greed, but in humility let each of you think more about others than yourself. Let each of you constantly look out for the interests of others. When you do this you will have the same approach to living as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Jesus says that for those who live a selfless life as they surrender daily to Him their “reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12). May Christ’s promises be the award and recognition you seek.

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series of short stories – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the story of the link between monkey catchers in Africa and losing one’s soul.David speaking 2