Unique, by Paul Dando:
Rare And Real:
David Prince is one of my heroes. Why? I cannot think of a lot of adjectives to describe him, but the thought that comes to my mind is that he’s rare and he’s real! You know how sometimes we meet someone who stands out in a crowd, for whatever reason-good or ill. But, bottom line, it’s David’s faith, his courage, all things good! Yes, he’s truly a hero because he demonstrates daily his unwavering faith in God.
It was a normal Sunday back in the late 1980’s. I was speaking at a church in a village in South Wales – Machen. The pastor was the late Eddie Watkins, for whom I had huge respect. And that was the day I met this special musician who led the worship, a blind man-with extraordinary insight. David was that man, and I did not realize then how much our lives would cross.
It was some years later whilst leading a church in Newport, South Wales, that I saw David again. He had been brought to one of the meetings, and he began to attend regularly.
I learned that David is one of those men who didn’t let the hurts, disabilities, and injustices in life make him less than whole, whereas some people are rendered immobile or unproductive by such hardships. David simply sucked it up and proceeded to demonstrate-daily-his faith in his Heavenly Father. Yes, he simply resolved to know that forever God is good.
In caring and leading a fellowship, adjustments have to be made, but he takes everything in his stride, knowing that God will provide, and blessings will result.
Recently this special hero lost his wife; this, in addition to coping with blindness, a kidney and pancreas transplant, and multiple other issues that would render most people immobile or at least cause them to lose faith and become ineffective for God. Not this man! He resolved long ago to become not bitter but better!
How do you care for a David? It would appear that some people cannot get on with life, and yet they have no apparent personal problem.
How does one pastor those in severe trial?
One day, when it was clear that David was making his home in the church, I simply said that I, or we as a church, had never encountered anybody like him. We would probably make many mistakes, but we felt compelled, perhaps through God’s Holy Spirit, to try. On that agreement we set out on quite a journey.
David was an excellent musician! The pressure was on from well meaning, caring people for David to lead worship, etc. But there was something missing. I could not quite put my finger on it.
One day I asked, “David do I see you in ministry pastorally or musically?’ His answer came without hesitation. ‘Pastorally!” Thus, our journey together began in ministry. David became the “Visitation Pastor.” People of the church would collect him by car and drive him to see others.
If one was not coping with specific situations in life, David put that in perspective by simply entering the room, becoming an excellent listener and perhaps stopping to drink tea, gallons of tea, while putting things into perspective or determining what was needed here and proceed to give encouragement and be on his way. It seemed the more tea David drank, the better his health – more time to listen to others. How he managed making those visits with my mother, as one of his drivers, Heaven only knows!
Ministry for David included overseas ministry. The first time David travelled with me it was to Poland. We subsequently made many trips to Eastern Europe, as well as China and Australia.
On David’s first trip, we drove over 3000 miles. This was the roughest ferry trip on the north sea, and he simply took it in his stride. I began to realise what an excellent traveller and companion he was. He never suffered jet lag, sea or car sickness, and on arrival would be in better condition than I.
Did this man have a direct line to God? I’d say so!
Our first trip to Poland stands out for many reasons. The Polish people simply loved David, always asked about him, and are delighted when he visits.
We ministered in one northern city and stayed the night with the pastor’s elderly mother, always affectionately known as the ‘lady in pink.’ We arrived at her flat with David holding my right elbow, as I took the lead. On sight of David, the dear Polish lady was overwhelmed, grabbed hold of him and elbowed me into the wall. She led him into the lounge and began to wait on him hand and foot. She was amazed at David, actually wanting to keep him, while she wished for me to move on and leave him there – something David was not very happy about – and at times I joked that it may have been a good idea.
Polish flats, in those days-externally had the dreary communist style, an array of repetitive blocks without flair or colour. But the inside is totally welcoming, all rooms with a lounge, all rooms, a bed room. David had his own room. I was in mine on the bed settee. We had travelled all day, 600 miles across Europe, spoke in the evening service, and now at last were in bed.
As I began to fall asleep, I heard David calling. I got up and went to his room. David, sitting on the bed, fully dressed, asked me if there was somebody else in the room?’ I said, “Yes, the Polish lady,” who was waiting to help him undress. The last thing David was going to do was to remove his trousers with her in the room. David asked ‘What shall we do?’ My reply was not the right one, not the best, but simply: ‘I don’t know, I’m going to bed.’ As I lay on my bed I could hear the dear lady speak half a dozen sentences in Polish, and David’s clear reply: ‘Well good night then.’ Another half a dozen sentences in Polish followed by David’s, “Well good night then.”
Did I get up and come to his aid? I apologize but no, I lay in bed and laughed and laughed. Perhaps this might have gone on for twenty minutes to half an hour. Twenty minutes for me but probably forty minutes for David. For a brief moment David sensed she had gone and hurriedly undressed and jumped into bed, before she returned.
The next day we bade her farewell. David was not amused at the thought of my leaving him behind to live with the elderly lady. Whenever we recall our travels together, high up on the list with huge amounts of gusto we recall the lady in pink.
In those early post communist days, people had – and in many cases-still experience hardships. Yet, my faithful friend, David, was consistently more than an encouragement to everyone.
The challenges of a person who is blind are huge. The challenges exist as well for the one who’s accompanying him. For example, how do you describe food to eat, clothes to buy, scenes to be described and try to speak without bias.
For instance, how do you describe lunch, when you see a large plate on the table with what appears to be the moon, glowing hot and molten with radio active orange bits covering it? This example turned out to be a large Hungarian cauliflower, totally covered with cheese sauce, sprinkled with paprika!
Shopping, at first, was impossible. In the first men’s shop at the doorway, I described a jumper (sweater) which was blue, with a zigzag pattern across it in a darker blue. Ok. Next jumper to it was also blue with a zigzag pattern across it in a darker blue. Ok, David? The only problem was this: The two jumpers were nothing like each other, very unalike. What on earth does one say??
There is a whole shop full to describe. I do not have the vocabulary to distinguish one from the other; there’s a high street awaiting. It then dawned on me as we strolled through the shop: On the left are jumpers. I do not like any of them. We move on. On the right are trousers, they are ok but a bit pricey. I do not have to describe any because I do not like them, and David does not want clothes that his friends do not wear. In front there is a model, I like the jumper; David likes the trousers. As I describe them to David he buys them. Consequently, I learned how to shop. Though I do confess to walking David onto an escalator without telling him, and he felt the earth move beneath his feet-that was before he met Rachel.
I once walked him into a cast iron column; once into a lady where David reached out to grab and apologized to whom he had just bumped into. I will not mention where he grasped her, but it was a direct hit.
Whether eastern Europe in the coldest of winters, or the Sunshine Coast, Australia, David can adjust. Travelling by car, plane or boat is never a problem, apart from the time we were in Hong Kong, and I thought David should have a trip around Aberdeen harbour with the boat people. After dragging him through the rush hour with tens of thousands of Chinese, in a small boat on a choppy sea, I noticed at the end of the day that this was not one of the highlights of his life.
Then the day came when the prince met Rachel! No need for elaboration here.
Who’s to say it wasn’t love at first sight. Excuse the play on words. I knew this was a very special day for both of them! It was obvious the pairing was for real. We were in a clothes shop, looking at shirts. He turned not for my advice; but, unbelievably, and to my surprise, he turned the other way-to Rachel. I was not offended but happy for my special friend, David!
Incidentally, Rachel chose for David a classic, well-cut shirt for him to purchase.
Seems my shoes were being filled-to a degree by a special person, someone who would compliment David’s ministry and his personal life.
Yep, it was time for my special friend, David, to take a wife.
One of my heroes.
Grace Church, Narberth, West Wales:
Paul & Pearl Dando pastor Grace Church, West Wales.