Eternity has lost one of our best-loved contributors, Nick Hawkes. Penny Mulvey shares this tribute to a dynamic and godly man.
Our beloved friend, Dr Nick Hawkes, quietly slipped away to be with his Maker on Friday 10 March. The world seems somehow less exuberant because of his absence.
Nick celebrated every moment of his life. Some of you might know of Nick Hawkes, through his gentle, insightful Daily Bible devotions, published by Bible Society. Or through his writing on Eternity. Or maybe you even discovered that he wrote rollicking yarns that fitted within the ‘romantic thriller’ genre, called The Stone Collection, all with a gentle dose of Christianity infused within. These stories were filled with his own adventures, and Nick lived a rich and generous life.
I came to know Nick through his writings. I wrote to him after I read one of his Daily Bible devotions, to express my delight in it. He wrote back, and so began a very special friendship that extended to both our spouses. My husband Peter and I flew to Adelaide a few times over the last two years to spend time with Nick and Mary. In December of last year, we even had a weekend away together at a beautiful house in the Adelaide Hills.
Nick’s life was like something out of a ‘boy’s own adventure’ book.
Nick’s cancer was rapidly weakening his body at that time – a cancer that had been invading his body for 6.5 years. We had a Zoom catch-up most weeks. Last week’s short chat preceded a move to hospital. He did not return home.
Nick’s life was like something out of a ‘boy’s own adventure’ book. Nick had a fraternal twin brother, Tim, born seven hours prior to him in 1953, and they were thick as thieves their entire lives, until last week, when Nick and Tim said goodbye to each other for the last time.
Their mother was a funny former journalist, their dad an emotionally absent Anglican priest, initially a chaplain with the Australian Army, who then transferred to the English Army. This opened a whole realm of possibilities for two boys, who were often left to their own devices. In the early 1960s, the family moved with the army to Malaya during the Indonesian Confrontation.
Some of their adventures are captured in Nick’s novels and the story he wrote for Eternity, ‘Deadly storms, heroin addicts, cancer and my faith‘. As a reader of said stories, one hopes that there is a degree of hyperbole in the storytelling as is fitting for the thriller genre. Surely young teenage boys were not really getting into quite that degree of danger and daring!
His evangelistic heart went way back!
Obviously, their parents realised that these two energetic children needed some curtailing, so they sent them off to an English boarding school, The Kings School in Rochester, founded in 604AD! Nick said he was more drawn to sport than the academic part of school, and never saw himself as being smart (street smart perhaps, but not intellectually gifted). The institutional Christianity demonstrated by the school did not attract him to faith. Instead, it was the vibrant Christian Union, whose members had been praying for these two Aussie boys for two years.
Nick met his wife Mary while studying Biology at Portsmouth Polytechnic. What a life he had there, flying small planes, building and sailing yachts, and he even took on the role of President of the Christian Union. His evangelistic heart went way back!
Nick became an agricultural research scientist, working initially in East Anglia, and then moved to Australia, working with the same company. Not long afterwards, he and Mary found themselves in Adelaide, the place of his birth. They began attending a Uniting Church, and the young couple were invited to take charge of the youth group. God called Nick into the ministry, but this did not mean he left science behind.
On his website, a self-deprecating Nick described himself in this way: “Dr Nick Hawkes has two degrees in science and three in theology. He has been a research scientist, theologian, educationalist, apologist, pastor author and radio broadcaster.” Nick was conferred with two PhDs. As well as having fun with the romantic thriller (writing ten novels), Nick also wrote several books on theology, with the aim of equipping seekers and Christians with accessible apologetics of faith. All these books and articles are available at Nick Hawkes and Koorong.
As the cancer took more of a hold, Nick’s desire for people to know Jesus for themselves grew stronger and stronger.
He had a particular heart for young adults. Countless young people came to Nick and Mary’s home to seek his wisdom and prayers. Nick exchanged poetry with my second son, praying for him and my daughter daily.
As the cancer took more of a hold, Nick’s desire for people to know Jesus for themselves grew stronger and stronger. He wrote many 14-day devotions for Bible Society’s Daily Bible series, some on his own struggle with and delight in God as his body was wracked with pain. He never complained. He was always upbeat and full of the joy of the Lord.
And still he wrote. Eternity commissioned him to write a 50-part series ‘Things I am asked‘. His Daily Bible series on living with cancer were published as a little book, Soar Above the Storm, offering 40 short devotions for people living through the storms of life. Just two weeks before he died, with eyesight failing and energy nearly depleted, Nick wrote another Easter Bible series for Bible Society. (You can sign up to receive this ‘Responding to the Resurrection’ email series by Nick, starting on Easter Monday, April 10, here.)
Mary has been with Nick every step of the way. She has been his editor and publisher; his secretary; his partner in all adventures; his strength and supporter through these last six and a half years. Nick leaves behind thousands of people, who have been touched by him through his writing, his speaking, his pastoral ministry and his friendship. In particular, he leaves behind his beloved family – his wife Mary; his son Michael and his two his children; his daughter Katie, husband Callum and two sons; and his twin Tim and wife Jane.
However, while there is a big hole left by Nick’s departure, we can rest in the knowledge that Nick has been welcomed into Heaven by our Heavenly Father and Nick will be smiling, for he is home.