How Graham swapped gambling for God

February 10, 2017

Major Graham Tamsett left a life full of baggage to embrace the Christian faith.


I grew up in the Salvos and was really involved with things, but I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus and took some wrong paths with the wrong people. Along the way, I became addicted to gambling, mostly dog racing.

I would work at my government job for a few minutes each morning, play poker until lunchtime, be seen by the right people over lunch, and sleep in my car all afternoon to be ready for the night’s gambling. I went to different greyhound racing venues each night and would visit friends with dogs. I was also abusing alcohol and cigarettes—I had been smoking for 15 years.

Christine and I got married and then children started coming along. Christine asked whether I was going to continue to live like this in front of my children and although I said no, change didn’t happen for a while.

However, I soon felt that it was time to change and began attending a Salvation Army corps (church). I went to a corps seminar and there was a challenge to memorise three Bible verses. I thought I’d give it a go and it changed my life.

One of the verses was 1 John chapter 5, verses 11–12: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.’

Here was I, a person who had been in The Salvation Army all his life, but who had never shared that conviction. The leader asked who had never invited Jesus into his heart and life. I was that person; I had been around but never done those things, and had never become a Christian.

I invited Jesus into my heart and life and started learning more scriptures. I learned to ask God about things. That’s when things changed, and joy became a part of my life.

I was sometimes tempted to do some of the things I did before, but then I realised I can have victory over temptation. All I had to do was read 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13: ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ 

I had so much baggage, junk and rubbish in my life, just like the people I have ministered to and journeyed with at Moonyah (The Salvation Army’s Brisbane Recovery Services Centre), but I now knew I could be released from that.
I claimed the promise of 1 John chapter 1, verse 7: ‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.’ 

This promise was for me and it changed my life. 

Proverbs chapter 3 verses 5 to 6 tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways so he will make our path straight, but most of us don’t do this because we don’t want to submit to God in all our ways. However, if we do—always, and not just when we feel like it—he will make our paths straight, but they won’t be easy!

As I grew spiritually, my work ethic changed and I tried to work harder, and make up for what I’d taken. I heard God telling me to leave that job and become a Salvation Army officer. Eventually I obeyed him and have been on that journey ever since. So I challenge you to do whatever it takes to get your life pointed in the direction it needs to go. 


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

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