Faith and selflessness key to Harold’s 100 years

Could faith, selflessness and helping others be the key to longevity?  The life of Carinity Brookfield resident Harold Kleinschmidt suggests that could be true.

The World War II veteran, who has dedicated his life to helping Indigenous Australians, is one of Queensland’s newest centenarians.

Harold, pictured with Carinity Brookfield Residential Manager Nadia Fletcher, turned 100 on June 20.  He celebrated the milestone with his wife Audrey, their three children, and family and friends from as far away as Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Born in Beenleigh in 1918, Harold only went to school for a few years before working as a farm labourer.  At 18 he enlisted in the Australian Army and five years later was called up for active duty, serving during World War II.

Taken by ship from Cairns to the battlefields of Papua New Guinea, the journey at sea took four days as the ship had to avoid Japanese submarines which had sunk Australian vessels.

One night while serving in the war, Harold woke to find a lost Japanese soldier standing in his tent, rummaging for food.

A meeting with a church group and chaplain during the fighting in Papua New Guinea led Harold to accepting Jesus into his life, a life-changing moment that inspired him to dedicate his life to helping others.

“My father said he would pray to God, ‘If you get me home from the war I’ll serve you for the rest of my life’ – and he kept that promise,” Harold’s son Mark Kleinschmidt says.

After returning home from the war, Harold was a foundation student of the Queensland Bible Institute (now Brisbane School of Theology) and in 1949 was its first fulltime residential graduate.

Harold’s life passion was working with Aboriginal people. With the support of his wife Audrey he served as a missionary with Aborigines Inland Mission in Woorabinda and later served communities in Moree and Townsville, offering ministry in Charters Towers and Palm Island.

‘Aunty’ Jean Phillips, who did missionary work with the Kleinschmidts, says Harold has done “wonderful work” with indigenous Australians over many decades.

“God’s really blessed those who have worked amongst the Aboriginal people and they are wonderful people who have been around Australia. These Aboriginals have gone on to achieve a lot in their lives, and missionaries like Harold have been a big part of that,” Jean says.

For 30 years Harold worked at Aboriginal Inland Mission Church at Inala in western Brisbane, which he founded in 1970.  He was also a prison pastor, counselling Indigenous people and assisting them to contact their loved ones.

Harold and Audrey now enjoy living at Carinity Brookfield where they enjoy church-based activities and concerts, while Harold loves watching cricket, tennis and football – and saying ‘grace’ at meal times.

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