When an eagle flew outside his prison window Chris Roby knew God had found him.
Mum loved to drink, smoke and party and I was just like her. I left school at 14 and hung around the bowling alley, roamed the streets at night and slept where I could.
I thought drinking and taking drugs was cool, and it gave me confidence. I loved it. I became a regular at the pub, got into trouble with the law and took harder drugs—I had a syringe hanging out of my arm at 15.
As the years went by I spent most of my life around bikers: that was where I felt most comfortable because they understood me. I ran away from Sydney and took the local barmaid with me.
All I owned was a rusty old Ford, an unregistered trailer with a 3.6 m tinny on it, a mattress strapped to the roof, two bull terriers and my motorcycle magazine collection. I felt hopeless, but somehow thought things would get better.
Years passed and that barmaid looked after and cared for me through hard times—she stood by me.
I was on bail, living in my car, when I turned up drunk at the Sawtell AA meeting. I was welcomed and a kind man told me I could get a feed at The Salvation Army on Wednesday night. I turned up there drunk and met Major Steve Metcher who prayed for me and cared about me when I didn’t care about myself.
He challenged me to pour out my grog, and somehow I did—all my beer and a bottle of wine went down the stairs of the church car park. Praise God I haven’t had alcohol since that day—6 May 2009.
Major Steve never gave up on me. I had to face charges in court and was sentenced to six months jail.
For the first time I was on my knees and prayed “Please God, help me”. An eagle flew close to my window and hovered—I believe it was a spiritual awakening, sent to me in prison. A man who was a bit like me invited me to the prison chapel.
We got on well and went to chapel twice a week where there was coffee and cake. I began to feel comfortable there, with those caring Christians who sang songs and prayed for us and gave loving hugs. I read the Bible for the first time in more than 30 years and I felt peace in my life. I had a spring in my step and would walk about whistling.
Two months later my appeal in the district court was granted after a long heart-to-heart with the judge. Majors Steve and Julia never stopped being there for me. They paid for a bed at Adele House Rehab straight after prison. I worshipped each Wednesday at the Salvos and for the first time in my life I surrendered all my bravado and bad behaviour. I was born again, willing to do whatever it takes.
I gradually rejoined the community and that barmaid took me back, God bless her. We both love worshipping at The Salvation Army. I know it’s God’s grace that has saved me and I thank him every day. I love my AA meetings which I go to several times a week to give back what was freely given to me. The Salvation Army is our second home and family, and I am the happiest I have ever been.
I married that barmaid in May 2011. After two years clean and sober, I enrolled as a senior soldier in May 2011 and my wife enrolled a year later. I have recently been accepted into TSA-MM (The Salvation Army Motorcycle Ministry.) Motorcycles have been my passion all of my life and I have sworn to serve the motorcycle community for Jesus.
Only through hindsight can I see that God has been there all along, I just needed the key to the door.