Streams of Living Water: Autobiography of a Charismatic Leader by Brian Smith with Adrian Commadeur (Melbourne, 2000, Comsoda Communications, (03) 9337 2051, Emmanuel House (07) 3252 8044, 160pp, RRP $20.00)
Every Sunday, I attend a meeting of a Covenant Community to pray, listen and worship. As I look around I see young people energetic and enthusiastic about their faith. They have encountered the mystery of our faith, dedicating themselves to the service of the Church, and proclaiming the Gospel with vigour and conviction.
For many of these young people, the inside of a church had previously been a 'no-go' zone. But members of the Covenant Community had dared to preach to them, helping effect a profound change in outlook through the Gospel message and God's call. While the witness is radical, it occurs within the framework of Church teachings and loyalty to the Holy Father.
Streams of Living Water, is the autobiography of Brian Smith, the founder of Covenant Communities in Australia. For many young people in the Church, who belong to Covenant and Catholic Charismatic Communities, this autobiography should be of particular interest. Yet, Brian Smith's story is in itself a witness to others on the trials and inspiration that accompany the Gospel message.
A Covenant Community has been defined as "a group of Christians who have been led by the Lord to express their love and commitment to Him and to one another as part of a divine call or vocation. They do this through a public lifelong commitment called a Covenant".
Covenant Communities were first introduced into Australia from the United States in 1975. It was Brian Smith who was at the forefront as their representative during every stage of their development, so much so that he was appointed as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. This achievement is one of a number recalled with humility in Streams of Living Water.
Other achievements have included his founding of the Emmanuel Covenant Community in Brisbane, his inspiration for the founding of many others across Australia, his membership of the International Council of Charismatic Renewals and his presidency of the Catholic Fraternity of Covenant Communities and Fellowships in Rome.
Amid all this activity and achievement is the personal cross Brian has had to bear, best described in his own words: "One cannot describe what parents go through in such an event. The pain is an excruciating experience ... I cannot describe in words what it means to have to go to a morgue to identify our child's body and say good bye to her."
This autobiography of a lay Catholic who has dedicated himself to the precepts of the Gospel is inspiring and moving, underlining the joy that can be experienced of living zealously as a Christian.
A great debt of gratitude is owed to Brian Smith for the many young people whose lives have been transformed through the various apostolates of the National Evangelisation Teams, Covenant Communities and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Anthony Cappello is the manager of AD Books.