Angel at The Gap

Meet Don Richie. Don is 84 years old and recently received a bravery medal and the Order of Australia, the country’s second highest civilian honor. He got the award because he saves lives. Here’s his story.

About 40 years ago, Don and his wife, Moya, bought a house overlooking Sydney Harbor. It’s an area called, “The Gap,” and their dream home had stunning views of the cliffs and the water. What they didn’t know when they bought the house was that across the street was the spot from which at least 50 people a year committed suicide by jumping off the cliff’s edge to the rocks below.

Most people would have moved, but from the first day they arrived, Don decided to do something about it. Through his large picture window, he kept his eye on the area across the street. And if he saw someone lingering, he walked across the road, said hello, and offered them a cup of tea.

One morning, he saw a woman sitting on the edge of the cliff. “I quickly got dressed and went over. She had already put her handbag and shoes outside the fence, which is pretty common. They very often leave something behind.”

“I said to her, ‘Why don’t you come over and have a cup of tea?’ She came with me, and Moya made her breakfast. When she got home, she rang to say she was feeling much better. Two or three months later, she walked up the garden path with a magnum of French champagne.”

Over the years, he’s coaxed hundreds of people back from the edge with his invitation. But for some, his kind words were the last thing they heard. “I’m just trying to save a life,” he says. “I used to sell kitchen scales and bacon cutters. At the Gap, I’m trying to sell people life.” No wonder he’s known as the Angel at the Gap.

“Selling people life.” I love that phrase!

What if we all lived with that kind of generosity of heart? Spending our days, surveying the landscape with an eager vigilance, watching for those who linger at the brink, and inviting them over for tea…and the chance to live.


*The photo and quotes in this blog and the story about Don Richie comes from an article by Kathy Marks in the Christian Science Monitor 10/18/10

2 thoughts on “Angel at The Gap

  1. You know, I am so glad the Lord allowed me to go to the Quitter Conference and get to hear you speak. You are really a special person. I absolutely adore this post. I cried. This is truly beautiful. You know, this is what life is suppose to be about. If we follow Christ, then we are a life line. I came back from the Quitter Conference burdened in a sense, not in a bad way Mr. Andrews, but just a heaviness. I completely resonated with Jon Acuff’s message at Quitter. The theme was totally up my alley. The dream is not my dream, it is the dream birthed by the heart of God. I want to also live the dream He dreamed for me. The dream isn’t about me, but others. Thank you for being an instrument on earth to point others to Him. May the Lord bless you.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me. I’m grateful for your words and for the heart that wrote them. I look forward to hearing more about your dreams…dreamed for the sake of others. Grace and peace, Al

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