Lieutenant Lloyd Stanimrovic endured a childhood of domestic violence and frequent moves before he found faith and a calling with the Salvos.
When I was born, Dad was in jail for an alcohol-related offence. We moved around a lot with my violent, alcoholic father and as a kid that was very disruptive for me.
When there was an extreme domestic violence incident, Mum would actually leave with me and during one of the separations Dad checked himself into William Booth House, a Salvo rehab centre. We lived at Hornsby and we started attending the local corps (church). There was a final separation in 1980 as Dad was making a lot of threats, and the Salvation Army got us into a shelter at Gosford, so we had regular contact with The Salvation Army officer.
The support was spiritual, emotional and material. I can remember different officers spending time supporting Mum—talking and praying with her. I got to see real Christian faith in action.
I became a clerical officer in my late teens and also studied law, leading to more than 22 years in the Attorney-General’s Department. As Tamworth Court registrar I co-ordinated staff and building operations and presided over bail courts, considered applications for search warrants and regularly served as local coroner.
I loved the job but it was heartbreaking seeing children and teenagers in court.
It was a great challenge seeing young people who were just 18 or 19 and determining whether they should be held in custody and taken to an adult correctional centre. I would sit in the car park praying each morning for God’s wisdom and his strength to be shown in what I was doing.
After marrying Sally in 2007 we had a house fire in 2008, and we drifted away from church after that as we were struggling with a number of things.
In 2011 our three-year-old Gracie contracted viral pneumonia and went from being a seemingly happy and healthy toddler to being on a life support system and needing CPR. It was just horrible.
Salvation Army officer Peter Spindler was the hospital chaplain, and he came to visit the afternoon before Gracie had this terrible turn and had to be revived, hooked up to life support and flown out to Westmead Children’s Hospital. The hospital called Peter. They really didn’t expect Gracie to get through this. Sally went with Gracie in the helicopter and Peter drove me to Westmead from Newcastle. That was a really major turning point for us—God had put people around us to help us.
I left the court to become a Salvos Stores manager, which was a step towards ministry. We’d already started the process of applying to The Salvation Army Training College and I felt this was where God wanted to use us.
We learned and experienced a lot, which we wouldn’t have done if I stayed with the court. It was primarily the opportunity to minister to people. We were lucky in Tamworth as it was quite a big store and we had quite a number of volunteers. So there were opportunities for me at times to be able to wander through the shop and chat to customers. Through chatting, especially with regulars and building relationship with them, it was quite remarkable how they would then open up.
After training we were appointed to Hornsby where I had my first experience of The Salvation Army, so it was coming full circle to where it all began for me.
I had all this ‘zig-zagging’ on and off the path I believe God had for me yet he is faithful and even when I almost given up, he did not give up.
With Sally and I now at Hornsby as corps officers, I feel that God intends us to do something very special through The Salvation Army. We truly feel God has put us here for a reason to fulfil his plan and we are deeply thankful to be a part of that.
With thanks to Others magazine.