It took a few decades of challenges before Alan found God in his life.
I was born in 1941 to a loving family. Growing up on a large property in rural New South Wales, life was an adventure.
However, life took a different turn in my early adulthood in the 1970s, with a broken marriage, a failed relationship and the death of both my parents within four months of each other. Both died by the age of 60 from massive heart attacks, my father dying in my arms on the lounge room floor.
The heart condition my parents had was hereditary and, by 1990, I had my first heart attack and ended up in hospital in Sydney. On the morning of my surgery my then wife took our two boys and left me. Over time, both boys turned up on my doorstep and are in my life today.
In 2002, I had a major heart attack; I was scared. I did not want to die and did not know what would happen if I did. During my time in the ICU my sister flew down from Queensland to see me.
As a Christian, she suggested that we pray. Angrily, I told her to leave and not come back. Physically and emotionally exhausted, I prayed, asking God to forgive me and to help me. Not long after that I believe that God removed all the confusion from me.
A few months later my sister died after a battle with cancer. My last memory of her was a look of peacefulness and her cheeky little grin; right then I knew she was with Jesus.
Although I had experienced an encounter with God, things were not right. At the end of 2003 I needed help because my life was filled with hopelessness and I felt like I was alone in the world. I went to Tamworth Salvation Army’s Family Store and approached David and Brenda, the store managers. I spoke to Brenda for a while and before I left I offered to volunteer, and I am still there.
What I heard and saw made me curious. Each day Brenda started the morning with prayer and I was always close enough to listen. I also noticed that there was something different about Brenda, the songs she would sing throughout the day and the way she spoke.
I believed that it was because of these Sunday meetings she would mention; I decided that I needed to attend one of the meetings. The next Sunday I went to the church. Once there I knew that this was what I needed as I was still depressed due to my past.
Then another health scare sidelined me for a while. In February I had surgery to remove cancer from my lung, and afterwards I needed to be placed in an induced coma for a week. Doctors did not hold much hope for my survival.
While I was in the coma I experienced something. I thought I was being attacked by what I believed were Satan’s minions, crawling and slithering towards me. As I tried to keep them off me I was calling out for God to save me from them. A vision appeared in white and a hand came down and brushed them all aside. I reached out with my hand towards the vision and I heard two words, ‘Not yet’, and then the vision was gone.
I know in my heart that without God’s intervention and all the prayer support I had I would not be here. I have given my life to God in a real way and as the next adventure in my life begins I am participating in soldiership (Salvo membership) classes. I have grown in my faith and have no doubts when I say, ‘There is a God—I am living proof.’