Being a friendly presence at his local shopping centre is Peter Young’s mission.
Peter Young wakes each morning asking God to bring him into the presence of someone he can talk to about faith and an amazing opportunity has recently opened up for him to be a presence at a local shopping centre.
To those he meets with obvious physical needs, Pete is able to engage in conversation and ask them if they know God is still in the miracle healing business. He shares how he believes God has used him to heal in the past. Standing proudly in his Salvo uniform and cap, Pete asks folk if they realise the ‘S’ on his uniform stands for ‘Saved to Serve’.
Pete has opened up many conversations and friendships where he has shared his belief that God encouraged him to serve through The Salvation Army. He takes music with him to play in the background, his portable seat, collection tins and a wad of Warcry and Kidzone magazines for those who may like one.
One important ingredient of any Saturday when he is collecting is his smile. Pete puts in a long day, often from 8.30 am–6 pm, travelling there and home again by public transport.
Pete responded delightfully to the description we at Manningham Salvation Army Corps (church) have been putting out there—‘The church without walls’. His story is of the gradual unfolding of God’s grace in his life, a lifetime journey, but especially over the past five years.
Pete has struggled all his life to find a spiritual home. We met him when he was living in one of the assisted living residences in our neighbourhood. He attended a Bible study there with some of the residents, and began attending Sunday worship regularly.
The people at the corps have offered a real sense of inclusion. Pete had struggled for decades with serious health and addiction issues. He still has health issues but has experienced God helping him through those difficult times. He is free of both alcohol and tobacco and has found a spiritual home and honed his faith to more fully understand Jesus as his personal Saviour.
Pete has gradually grown in his faith, stepping from being an adherent to a soldier (full member). He shows intense pride in wearing his uniform and proclaiming his faith—belonging to God’s Army.
Pete is every inch a Salvo. He is a terrific advocate for corps’ life, with a gift with words. His prayers are a blessing to us all, and he is part of the welcome team. In turn, he credits the inspirational witness of our older members as being a crucial ingredient on his journey forward, even as the membership transitions to a vibrant younger congregation.
Pete says he was born an Anglican, with his mum taking him to church in Brisbane. As a young boy he would have breakfast with the curate. He became an altar boy and can remember how God must have had such a sense of humour, as before Pete was due to take his first holy communion, he ducked the wrong way while playing footy and sustained a broken jaw and had to have it wired up. He had to take his first communion through a straw.
Later, he strayed from the church and his beliefs. After many years of ill health and loads of diabolical financial and personal episodes taking their toll, Pete found himself divorced and broke and living in assisted living residences.
Then he met the Salvos…
As told to Captain Anne Hill Manningham Salvation Army (Vic.)