Posted in Chaplaincy
When 10-year-old Summer’s mum, Tania, pulled off to the side of the road one morning on the way to school, she knew something was wrong.
She was sick… so sick she couldn’t drive any further. That morning Tania was supposed to drop Summer and her five-year-old brother Kael to school before undergoing radiation treatment.
Stranded by the roadside, unable to contact friends or family, little Summer wrapped her arms around her stricken mother and prayed for help…
When she opened her eyes, her school chaplain was standing in front of her.
It sounds like the opening sequence of a movie, but it’s the true story of a family who was rescued because of their enduring relationship with their school chaplain, Chappy Dave.
“I’d been working with this family for a while — mum Tania, Summer in Grade 4, and Kael in Prep — because mum had had cancer and it went away but came back with a vengeance and she started having pretty full-on radiation treatment,” Chappy Dave recalls.
That morning, Chappy Dave wasn’t supposed to be on the highway. He was on his way to school, running late after a real estate agent failed to make an appointment, but then his car fuel light came on.
“I’m like, ‘I don’t believe this. Now I’m going to be even more late!’ But I just thought, ‘Oh well’, and fuelled up the car.
“As I’m coming out of the servo I’ve seen this car parked in the carpark and a mum sitting next to the car with her head between her knees, not looking real good at all. I thought, ‘Gee that’s not good’.
“Then all of a sudden I saw one of my students walk out from behind the car and put her hands on her mum’s back, and I thought, ‘That’s really not good’ and I realised it was Summer.
“I just fanged my car around and parked next to them, got out, and Summer’s looked up and said, ‘Chappy Dave! What are you doing here?’”
Tania explained it was the fourth time she’d needed to pull over on her way to drop Summer at school before going on to her radiation appointment. Kael was in the back of the car.
“She said, ‘I absolutely cannot drive, I’ve been sick the whole way’. So I said, ‘Well, move over and I’ll drive you!’ And she said, ‘You can’t do that, you’ve got to get to work; you’ve got work to do’. I looked at her and said, ‘You are my work’.
“I left all my car windows down, I completely forgot to lock my car, and jumped in her car and started driving.”
After dropping Summer safely off at school, Chappy Dave took Tania to her appointment and kept Kael company while she had her treatment.
He then drove Tania and Kael back to the service station where they met that morning, filled up their car for them — “Because I knew they were struggling financially” — and organised meals to be delivered to them that afternoon.
“It wasn’t until later in the day that Summer’s teacher came up and saw me, and said, ‘Oh my gosh, that was crazy what happened this morning! I’m getting goosebumps just telling you!’,” Chappy Dave recalls her saying.
“Apparently they’d tried ringing heaps of family and friends that morning and none of them could get there. Summer closed her eyes and was so distressed she told her teacher, ‘I closed my eyes, put my hands over my mum and asked God to help us, can you just help us?’ And when she opened her eyes, I was standing there.
“I found out later on that other people in Tania’s family had been praying because they knew no one could get to them.”
Thanks to supporters like you, Chappy Dave is there to help families in need in whatever way they need. You can support chaplains like Dave. Visit suqld.org.au/donate.