The bumpy road to God

January 28, 2017

Stuart Kerr overcame a very rough start in life to walk towards God.


I’m 43 years old and the second youngest of nine children from Brisbane. I’m into God, British motorcycles, military history and the Salvos.

My late Dad came from a Salvation Army family in Hamilton, Victoria, but Mum grew up in poverty in a one-parent family that wasn’t Christian. Dad’s faith was always there, but it was kept on the backburner to keep Mum happy, although all us kids were dedicated in The Salvation Army as babies. 

We were not allowed to socialise with anyone except at school, and home life was very strict and violent as Mum ruled it with an iron fist, the same way she was raised. Dad was in the military and gone for months on end, including after he left the services.

Dad worked day and night to keep us fed, clothed and to have a roof over our heads, so Mum was boss and heaven help you if she thought you did something she didn’t like! 

I always knew God was real and knew of Jesus, but didn’t have a personal relationship with God until my mid-20s. 

As the years passed, home life and high school became a lot more violent. Thanks goodness for small Bible group that I liked a lot. The bullies at school, and some teachers, seemed to know which kids to attack and so I copped it at home and school. Finally I stood up for myself and fought back, but was told to leave school. So I left home as well.

As I could not read or write well I worked in menial labouring jobs where I was ripped off and bullied at work by people who should have known better. At 17 I went to Mt Isa and got work in the mines before joining Queensland Rail. As I was a big bloke who had never been a drinker, drug user or fighter, I got a lot of grief for it, and I learnt how to fight to defend myself.

I worked in different places and positions in Queensland Rail, until injury, harassment and family matters drove me to leave the job. 

I started going to a local church in Ipswich and found that my faith in the Lord was getting stronger and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour when 
I was 26.

In December 2000 I was baptised and in 2001 saw Mum die at 66, and in 2002 my oldest brother Bruce died at 48. I moved home to care for Dad, who was very ill, and I was his carer for eight-and-a-half years. 

Dad and I worshipped at Mitchelton and Albion (now Stafford) Salvation Army until Dad was too sick to attend. He died in 2009 while my own health was failing due to a work accident in 2005 where I broke both my neck and back. Two years after that I was attacked and hospitalised and now have an acquired brain injury. 

After the 2011 Brisbane floods I moved interstate, but could not settle down until I moved to St Marys in Tasmania and started going to the local corps (church). After five years I am part of a great team working for the best boss—God! 

Though my health is still up and down I am greatly blessed by God to be part of The Salvation Army, as it is my new family now and I really do enjoy doing what our Lord has called me to do, working with some awesome kids and showing them how much Jesus loves them. 

Jesus saved me from a rough start, letting me know that I am worth it no matter what people say. I lost everything over the past decade, but God has given it back in better ways and forms. 


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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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