A retired Seventh-day Adventist businessman who has dedicated the past two decades to helping the poorest of the poor has received a prestigious honour from the NSW Government.
Dennis Perry was presented with the NSW Government Community Service Award in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding contribution to the community at a special function in Pennant Hills, Sydney, on Monday night (December 19), attended by community leaders and volunteers.
"His light has made the world a little less dark and we are a better place because of Dennis Perry."
Mr Perry, 70, was recognised for his tireless work with Operation Food For Life (OFFL), a charity he co-founded with former business associate David Woolley. The organisation supports a number of projects in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), including feeding and clothing hundreds of people living on rubbish dumps; providing food and spiritual support to patients dying of HIV/AIDS; and regularly supplying breakfast to more than 1000 men and women in prison.
Humbly accepting the award, Mr Perry used the opportunity to witness for Jesus. “I was really proud to proclaim Jesus Christ in my opening remarks and proud to thank the Seventh-day Adventist Church for their encouragement and support,” he said.
“I personally feel the award was an opportunity in which God placed me to testify in a secular environment.
“I’m deeply humbled and unworthy but honoured to know that the work has been recognised.”
Member of Parliament for the seat of Hornsby, Matt Kean, who presented the award, said Mr Perry is one of the most inspiring people he has come across.
“Unassuming, kind and humble, he is bringing hope to the hopeless,” Mr Kean said.
“He has dedicated his life to Christ and to serving others. He truly is a man for others.
“His selfless love and compassion is a model to all Christians. His light has made the world a little less dark and we are a better place because of Dennis Perry.”
Mr Perry has been to PNG three times in 2016 to work on OFFL’s various projects, the most recent a home for unwanted children, which opened in September. Born Free Sanctuary provides accommodation for 28 children from broken homes, bringing them hope and dignity.
“Without this facility some of these children would not be alive today,” he said.
“We have formed all these kids into a singing group called Born Free Praise and we are teaching them the love of Christ.”
Mr Perry said OFFL is all about showing unconditional love and compassion, and inspiring people to serve others.
“Practical Christianity in action can change people’s lives and bring them to Jesus Christ,” he said.
“I look forward to the next 20 years and beyond serving other people. It’s all about others: not I but Christ.
“Not one person is paid in our ministry. Not once have we asked for money. This is clear evidence that God is leading this program. We are just stewards of this ministry.
“It’s truly a partnership with God.”
For more information on Operation Food For Life, visit www.offl.org.au.