Newsletter Interviewer: So, Peter, tell us why today is such a special day for you and all those who are still active in this ministry.
Peter Wade: Well, on August 20th 1969, fifty years ago, the incorporation of Positive Word Ministries was officially finalized with the South Australian state government as a non-profit.
Interviewer: Well, where were you at the time? Did you travel for the ministry? Give me a sense of the timing on this.
Peter Wade: From 1967 to 1970 my family and I were living in the US — in Ohio. I flew to Australia for meetings in Adelaide and Perth in early 1969, and then returned to the United States via South Africa and Brazil and then through New York and back to Ohio again. Then in May 1970, the family and I came back to Australia and we lived in Adelaide and we ran Positive Words Ministries from here.
Interviewer: That sounds hectic.
Peter Wade: It was. But when God leads, you follow, and of course I was much younger then. Please don’t do the math. In addition, behind every good man is a better woman, and without Vivien I could not have done it.
Interviewer: (laughs) Did you have anyone help you start Positive Word Ministries? I mean, anyone besides Vivien, your wife, who was with you all the way?
Peter Wade: Lew Smallwood and Bill Stephens and I set the incorporation process into action early in 1969 and we were guided to set up our ministry to be quite different from others.
Interviewer: Why do you say it was different?
Peter Wade: Well, there was no official membership except for the Board of Trustees, and that relieved the pressure that most churches have to endure. And there were no paid staff members. All of our trustees were volunteers.
Interviewer: What a blessing!
Peter Wade: Yes. Yes, it was. And as our constitution put it, the organization was “not for the pecuniary gain of any individual.” The purpose of the ministry was to raise faith – not finances.
Interviewer: That’s amazing. And I can see you were blessed with everything you needed.
Peter Wade: Oh yes, we certainly were and still are. And there were also no articles of faith.
Interviewer: What do you mean by articles of faith?
Peter Wade: Well, typically a religious organization makes an absolute statement about its beliefs, and it doesn’t change.
Interviewer: Sort of like, “that’s what I think and I’m stickin’ to it?”
Peter Wade: (smiles) Having no “articles of faith” means that we could stay open to whatever truth God taught us from His Word. Later we publicly said that we believed in the Apostles’ Creed, an early statement of Christian belief. That still left a lot of space for God’s revelation.
Interviewer: I’d like to go back to how it all began, Peter. Tell me, how did you start? Where were you?
Peter Wade: Okay, well we rented an office in Adelaide in a building on the corner of Flinders and Frome streets, and it was on the same floor as a theaterette that we used for larger meetings or to show teaching films. In Australia it’s called the first floor but in the US it would be called the second floor.
Interviewer: A theaterette?
Peter Wade: Yes, a small theater. The owner was involved in some kind of filming, probably advertisements or weddings.
Interviewer: That sounds interesting. Were there large meetings?
Peter Wade: Yes, occassionally, and it was an additional blessing to have that small theater right there. But more important, though, were the Home Fellowships which were set up around the Adelaide area.
Interviewer: Now I heard that some time later you moved your business office north of the metro area, to Ingle Farm. Is that right?
Peter Wade: Yes, that’s right. After a few years we closed the city office. But very soon after that (smiling) the home office of Positive Word Ministries, complete with supplies and a printing press, occupied a room in my house in Ingle Farm. That’s a northern suburb of the Adelaide metro area.
Interviewer: (smiling.) I can just picture that. Anyway, I think we’re about up to 1979 now. Tell me what’s going on.
Peter Wade: Well, in 1979, my family and the Smallwoods started Sunday morning meetings in their home in Ingle Farm, which eventually grew into the Community Christian Church. Then we outgrew the living room, and we moved to a room at the local medical center and then to the Ingle Farm Recreational Center.
Interviewer: All that growth. That’s what happens when God’s Word is taught.
Peter Wade: Amen!
Interviewer: How many people are we talking about here?
Peter Wade: By that time we were over 100 attendees on our best day.
Interviewer: That’s great. Now, I have in my notes that you traveled in the beginning. What about after that? Maybe you could fast forward about seven years or so.
Peter Wade: Okay. Let me think. Yes, there were some wonderful trips. I was invited back to the United States for several weeks at a time to teach at week-long family camps in Minnesota for two years and then in California and Oregon. I also traveled to a lot of home fellowships in many states. It was always a thrill to see the growth in the saints and to catch up and visit with them. I must have made these visits at least 21 times and my wife, Vivien, came with me many times. There was a complete farewell tour in 2007 of about five weeks, and then a small reunion camp in Hawaii in 2010. There were also two family camps here in Australia in 2000 and 2002 and many of the saints from the United States came.
Interviewer: I have heard you teach in person, on CD’s and have also seen you on DVD. You are a marvelous and obviously inspired teacher.
Peter Wade: Thank you.
Interviewer: But you are also a gifted and inspired writer.
Peter Wade: Thank you, again. I never finished high school, you know, but I learned that behind every good author there is a great editor! Both Vivien and I made up for the shortness of our academic careers by myself being top of the graduating class at Bible College and Vivien being second by just one point. There’s a story there for another time!
Interviewer: I’ll bet there is. (pauses and looks at notes) When you did all that traveling in America, did people buy your books? It seems to me that that would have been a great opportunity to sell them. At family camps, home fellowships.
Peter Wade: Oh yes, many books were bought. I kept a stock of my books in Ohio, then later California, and finally I moved our books to Oregon. That way orders could be filled without waiting a long time, and I always brought a suitcase-full with me. I think believers need to have accurate and powerful information about who they are in Christ, and what that means for their lives and their chances for success in the world.
Interviewer: I’m reading that your first paperback book was published in 1974, correct?
Peter Wade: Yes. It contained articles I had published in a U.S. magazine but was actually printed on a small offset press I ran in our insulated shed at home and then I had it bound commercially. It’s been revised and printed professionally both in Australia and the U.S.
Interviewer: I also see here that cassette tapes of your teachings at the Community Christian Church were distributed in America and in Australia.
Peter Wade: Yes, and many of them are free to listen to or download on our website. Teaching articles too.
Interviewer: How many books have you written, Peter?
Peter Wade: As of last week (laughs) there are 19, and two by Vivien.
Interviewer: That’s amazing. That’s a lot of work and dedication and believing. You mentioned that there were lots of free teachings on your website. Tell me about this website. When? Where? What’s it called? You know.
Peter Wade: Oh yes, the website. That was an inspired adventure. It started as posword.org and went through some other names and now is PeterWade.com — an easy-to-remember address.
Interviewer: By inspired do you mean God said “Build a website and they will come”?
Peter Wade: (grins) Not in those words exactly, but that was the idea. The first page of the website was launched around 1st October 1995, just a few years after the World Wide Web became public. Many of the believers I knew didn’t use the internet. I put the web address on my card, and when I gave it to people I had to explain what the internet address was and what they would find if they used it. Those were interesting and exciting times.
Interviewer: You did a lot of hard learning, didn’t you?
Peter Wade: Yes. God and I.
Interviewer: Was it succesful that early on?
Peter Wade: I was getting about 10,000 visitors each month on the website, an amazing number of people compared to the number I’d been able to reach before. By the way, in October it’s the website’s 24th anniversary.
Interviewer: I hate to bring this up, but have you made plans for the future? I mean, with the ministry? You know, for when…
Peter Wade: (interrupts) For when I’m promoted to glory? (smiles and laughs)
Interviewer: Yes, and what a wonderful way to describe it. So, you’ve made plans for Positive Word Ministries.
Peter Wade: Yes, I have. About six years ago, some friends of ours started the process of replicating the Australian ministry in the USA under the name Positive Words. It’s incorporated and we’re in line with US laws for non-profits.
Interviewer: And when did Positive Words begin?
Peter Wade: Positive Words Inc. started functioning in 2014.
Interviewer: Why did you choose the United States?
Peter Wade: Well over 95% of believers who obtain books and subscribe to our free newsletter are from the United States, and now a good foundation is in place for the future when I am promoted to glory. By the way, that’s an old Salvation Army term I heard when I was a child.
Interviewer: I’m sorry for backtracking, but I forgot to ask you about what happened to the church that grew out of the Smallwood’s living room?
Peter Wade: God guided me to hand the Community Christian Church over to another minister after some nine years, and I continued on with Positive Word Ministries.
Interviewer: Well, Peter, we’re at the end of this interview and it’s been amazing getting to know you. Thanks for letting us all into your life. Really. I’ve heard that you’re a private person, and I thank you for this. Is there anything else you’d like to say on this wonderful 50th year celebration?
Peter Wade: Vivien and I have so many friends in the United States, some of whom we have never met. Many faithful believers know us from our stay in Ohio in the late 1960s, and we keep in contact and meet new believers by email every year. So the “future is as bright as the promises of God,” which is attributed to William Carey, I believe. Thanks to you all for your love, prayers, and support because of the foundation we all believe in — the integrity of God’s Word.
Interviewer: Thanks again, Peter.