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A Tribute to Donald Prout

Donald Proud Memorials Service
Les Nixon speaks at the Prout Memorial Service

Donald A. Prout
22-2-1931 – 16-1-2007
Baptist Church, Northcote, Melbourne, Victoria
January 22, 2007

A Tribute

The Order of Service contained DP's scribblings: 'I was going to say 'nearly-well-done,' but Richard Baxter got in before me with that one back in 1691'. 'One day you'll read that I'm dead; don't you believe it. I'll be more alive ... D. L. Moody thought that up just over a hundred years ago.' 'Have you noticed the obituaries in the newspapers, how everybody dies in alphabetical order'. He added a Gospel invitation quoting John 3:16.

(Donald survived oesophagus cancer in '05 but succumbed to bone cancer. He preached just a month before he died, and recorded a DVD. He spent his last weeks' in hospital, still making new friends and handing out copies of his books to one and all.)

Mrs. Barbie Prout received hundreds of e'mails and cards from around the world. Pastor Colin Howlett mentioned if he didn't start the service on time, Donald would start without him. DP warned if anyone spoke longer than 2-minutes, 'expect to hear a knocking sound ....' Around three hundred friends filled the church half-an-hour before, and others stood.

Every denomination attended. A dozen friends talked of his whimsical ways, with Barbara Prout cuddled by her grandchildren on the front row. A delight to behold.

Barbara Prout accompanies Donald
Barbara Prout
accompanies Donald

Paul Daley's DVD of Donald singing "I have so many million years I just can't count 'em', brought delightful reality to the service ... and the congregational singing was spine-tingling, too.

Jonathan Prout spoke lovingly for the family, with an acrostic that spelled out what he did NOT inherit from his Dad: Preaching ability; Reading addiction; Outgoing nature, Ukelele skills and Television habits. But he DID inherit: ... Discipline strategies; Outrageous fashion sense; Name to be proud of; Ability to captivate an audience; Long eyebrows and a Devotion to God.

His brother Ross talked of teenage conversion, and brought smiles when Donald registered at a Technical College, something utterly beyond his abilities, but made good representing insurance with the AMP, till around the 1950's when he began speaking at church. He never looked back, a challenge that intensified his research and writing skills, although he finished High School early. In 1982 Donald earned his Th.L at Melbourne's Kingsley (Wesley) College. His longtime friend, Graham Haylock retold their unique experiences as he shared in leading the Memorial service.

Garry Coleman and Bryan Greenwood reviewed his 'Walk Thru the Bible' Seminars, and how he created his own 'Skip-Thru' series. He became Pastor at three churches, but chiefly guest at hundreds of others. Three Bible Colleges he could not attend in the 50's invited him back to teach the students in the 80's and '90's. He authored seven books and wrote hundreds of songs, and was published by scores of magazines. And Bob Thomas said Eutychus would not drop-off when Donald spoke, and reminded everyone of Donald's 36-splendid-years as writer with the Christian Life, never better than the variety in the full page reports of the Belgrave Heights Conventions. Thomas once asked for a fresh view of the proceedings , maybe as a possum. He rolled out a scroll of a report titled, 'To Editor Possum Bob—from Possum Donald—in the rafters.'

Les Nixon and Donald Prout
Les Nixon and
Donald Prout

His 'On-This-Day' Christian Diary page gathered notable, curious and humorous events dating back to the early centuries, a page that New Life confessed was their most popular item for twenty years. These writings gave him a new prominence. That collection one day will find a publisher.

DP dealt with difficult issues efficiently, by Biblical exposition. He taught profound values from obscure passages, and corrected error quoting conservative authors and typed researched commentaries (one finger at a time on an old portable) on each Bible book and hundreds of Bible subjects. He created and distributed several libraries of around 17,000 volumes, as his house was bursting at the seams.

Friend were amazed when they challenged him with a grand idea. He promptly retrieved from memory book author publisher page and para of the very item. Pastors constantly appealed for authoritative teachings to deal with tricky issues. He was their man.

The impact he had teaching at Mill Valley Ranch, and with the European Christian Mission people. and Outback Patrol Institute, became legendary. For laughs, he simply repeated Bob Hope and Jerry Calona jokes and laughed uproareouslly every time. People saw the joy in that man; the unsuppressed hilarity in his life.

When he suffered a heart attack the Doctor asked, "Who was that man in the hot shirt?" He scribbled a poem in the guest book at Bankstown Hospital; "I came to worship with others in the Chapel today, and only God and I came". An e'mail was read from his friends overseas at the "Fellowship-of Merry-Christians" where his humorous poems (with Brett Cardwell's sketches) will continue to be published.

The Memorial Cover for the Prout Service
The Memorial Cover for the Prout Service

Martha Nixon reckons he was the most wonderful friend to have as a house guest; a riveting conversationalist, a compelling theolo-gist, and a thorough Biblio-phile, who'd rattle the glass tabletop with glee when from memory he'd recall an obscure Bible verse in The Living Bible or The Message or the NIV, and convert it back to the KJV—but she said, he was the most difficult person to prepare a meal for; he only liked Hamburgers and Coke and Chips—but she soon learned to conceal vegetables under the mashed potatoes. He grimaced as he nibbled.

Donald Prout was Godliness with a glint in his eye; sizzling in mischievous humor; a contradiction wrapped in an enigma. He was Melbourne's Gospel Pied Piper, the Peter Pan of the Pulpit. He grasped the needs of the human heart the way very few pastors could; and utilized the most pleasing teaching skill to help them cope. He had a drive and purpose that no one could extinguish.

Why did he agonize over every function, every message, every prayer, every corny joke, every song? An exhibitionist does not feel others' pain; only their exhilaration. Even tho' he was better prepared than most, he suffered from tender nerves like a skittish bride before her wedding. His heart was ablaze and it had to warm the world before he could sit down.

What makes individuals great is their ability to decide what is truly important and then focus all their attention on that. What keeps individuals humble is to realize it was God's spirit at work in their affairs all the time.

Donald knew who he was, and he didn't need our affirmation. Much of what DP believed was locked in his private world; a mystery to others. He would never allow his personal interpretations to cloud true fellowship with the the Lord's people. His essence was thorough assurance that while the world seemed unsure, in God's economy all is well.

Prout teaching at
Prout teaching at
Outback Patrol

Outback Patrol conveyed fondest affections and condolences to Susannah and Jonathan (Cameron deceased) and to DP's families, and to dear Barbie, Donald's best friend in all the world. We know they'll be OK, for "He is able to give you everything you need, and more ..." (II Corinthians 9).

Also, we shared the welcomes outback people gave to DP. It's a hostile world out there; no churches to attend, they'd not read his writings. But Donald was always ready. Many hotel lounges had never seen anything like it; they plied Donald with more Coca Colas and Mars Bars to sing his Gospel songs again and again far into the night, and to talk about Jesus.

The Hotel lounge is the social centre of town; Donald made it a Cathedral. Cunnamulla didn't quite understand him, but the Tibooburra families were on the doorstep before breakfast.

He was so happy at Broken Hill, when they hung cowboy chaps on his pants, planted a 10-gallon hat on his head, a holster on his hip, sat him on a hay bail, and let him lose with his Gospel 'Happy Trails' like Roy Rogers. Then, he'd sit in a corner with a young family and explain how to truly become a happy Christian, too. I Corinthians 9- "Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him".

He was flying with Graham Sharman and Richie Gunston on an Outback Patrol. He'd plunk away on the uke' and write songs over the noise in the Cessna, and sing them at a Bourke camp and a Charleville school and a Condobolin shearing sheds and a Wellington bush hall.

Donald's very nature expressed itself in his closeness with God, and it was infectious; Divine fire lit his eyes. People define a man by what he does. God by who he is. DP's essence came from being in the presence of an awesome Jehovah all his days. Here's what F W Boreham said Donald Prout has just now done: "One of these days I shall set out on my own great voyage of exploration. I shall leave behind me all the old familiar things, and shall sail into the unknown, the unseen, the unexplored. I shall be surrounded on every hand by the wonders that here were beyond me, by the mysteries that here baffled my comprehension. I shall see strange sights and hear unwonted sounds. but it will be all right. For when I take The Wings of the Morning, and fly out into the uttermost of the uttermost, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right had shall hold me" (The Golden Milestone, "Wings of the Morning," p. 200. Psalm 139:9).

You'll notice that Donald Prout the Christian identified himself with the great early conservative Reformers. Well, we of today, identify with you. You made our lives better.

So, Donald Prout has left the building—or as John Gillespie McGee said, "I have slipped the surly bonds of earth—and while with silent lifting mind I've trod the high untresspassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God".

Donald Prout * you were splendid, * you were unforgettable and and * Y O U were magnificent.

The service closed with Pastor Colin recalling the last evening in the hospital. Unlike his usual self, he loudly asked others to leave, though he was semi-conscious at the time. Around 11pm when Ross Prout and Pastor Colin were quietly chatting away across the bed, Donald roused. He raised his arms, gazed into infinity, and exclaimed passionately: "IT'S HIM" and settled back on his pillow. Twenty-four hours later (Jan 16th) his other vital functions ceased. and the Donald Prout we knew on this earth entered into the Presence of his Lord and Saviour.


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