A Life Transformed by the Gospel

By Phil McMaster

I first met ‘Derek’, a trainee Army cadet, in January at a voluntary church service during Year One Familiarisation Training (YOFT) at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). He came from a small regional town in Victoria. It wasn’t clear whether he had any sort of faith background, but I met him at a few more services and we looked forward to a short chat each week, mainly over a selection of desserts, following each service.

We asked Derek to come to our annual student camp following the completion of YOFT. Derek agreed to come along with a few other cadets from ADFA as we joined with other students from civilian universities in Canberra and Sydney. The adventure camp at Kangaroo Valley was great fun. We canoed the river, shared meals together and looked through the book of Timothy during some Bible talks. I got to know Derek much better over this time and it was clear he was not a follower of Jesus, but he did have a keen desire to learn.

I was paired with Derek in a canoe after one of the Bible talks. We had been encouraged to ask each other what we thought concerning the things Paul was writing about to Timothy: Faith, Hope and Love.

Derek told me he was ‘new’ to the concept of finding out what the Bible says about Jesus, however, he wanted to keep exploring.

And that’s exactly what we did . . .

Navigators’ ‘Bridge to Life’ Illustration Phil and  ‘Gavin’ used to explain the Gospel to ‘Derek’.


On a cold Canberra morning, with the mercury finally stabilising at -4 degrees Celcius, I made my way across town to ADFA. To be honest I was a bit annoyed. I was cold and the cadets I was meeting with had made appointments at our normal, more respectable meeting time of midday. I got to our agreed meeting place, a small room above the coffee shop, and tried to ‘set up’.

I fumbled for the lights, eventually finding the remote for the heater and wondered what was going to happen. I felt ill-prepared to help guide our Bible study in Mark’s Gospel Chapter 15, dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus.

I hoped these guys would turn up and said a silent prayer that my bad attitude would not impact on what God might do in this Bible study: Eight Weeks in Mark’s Gospel. We were at the last week, week eight. I was waiting for two guys, both first year Air Force Cadets. One of them was Derek.

What would God do . . .

The other guy, ‘Gavin’, was a Christian guy. I had been showing him how to lead a Bible study. For the last two weeks he had been leading the studies and he was keen to keep doing it.

The guys turned up and we got into the Bible, asking questions such as, “What happened to Jesus’ body?” “What is surprising about the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection?” and “Why is it significant Jesus rose from the dead?” Then came the kicker: “Are you ready to follow Jesus?” Using this last question and the ‘Bridge to Life’ illustration, we saw ‘Derek’s life transformed right in front of us – as he admitted he is a sinner and in need of a saviour.

I still meet with Derek. He turns up faithfully to Bible study each week and he leads a transformed life, inwardly and outwardly, in the way he lives as a follower of Jesus.

He leads a transformed life, inwardly and outwardly,

in the way he lives as a follower of Jesus.

Please keep praying for this cadet as he grows in his knowledge of Jesus.



Simply enter your details and we'll email you the link to download this resource.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.