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Australian Writer Led to Christ by a Neighbor's Kindness

Tim Winton is Australia's most celebrated novelist today. Author of more than a dozen bestselling books and winner of numerous literary prizes, Winton resides on the coast of Western Australia, where he lives with his family. Winton was interviewed on the popular ABC television show Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. At one point, the conversation turned to Winton's well-known Christian faith.

"I want to talk about faith," said Denton. "When you were, I think, about five, a stranger came into your family and affected your family quite profoundly. Is that right?"

Tim Winton went on to tell Denton how his father, a policeman, had been in a terrible accident in the mid-1960s, knocked off his motorcycle by a drunk driver. After weeks in a coma he was allowed home. Winton said he remembers thinking, "He was like an earlier version of my father, a sort of augmented version of my father. He was sort of recognizable, but not really my dad, you know? Everything was busted up, and they put him in the chair, and, you know, 'Here's your dad.' And I was horrified."

Winton's father was a big man, and Mrs. Winton had great difficulty bathing him each day. There was nothing that Tim, five-years-old at the time, could do to help. News of the family's situation got out into the local community, and shortly afterward, Winton recalls, his mother got a knock at the door. "Oh, g'day. My name's Len," said a stranger to Mrs. Winton. "I heard your hubby's a bit [ill]. Anything I can do?"

Len Thomas was from the local church, Winton explained. This man had heard about the family's difficulties and wanted to help. "He just showed up," continued Winton, "and he used to carry my dad from bed and put him in the bath, and he used to bathe him, which in the 1960s in [Australia] in the suburbs was not the sort of thing you saw every day."

According to Winton, this simple act of kindness from a single Christian had a powerful effect: "It really touched me in that … watching a grown man bother, for nothing, to show up and wash a sick man—you know, it really affected me." This "strangely sacrificial act," as he described it, was the doorway into the Christian faith for the entire Winton family.

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