Aaron Reid had a life-changing journey from atheism and abuse to Salvo officer.
I was born in Brisbane, and my family moved to a small outback Queensland town when I was three. The locals were lovely people but I had a dark secret. I was suffering abuse and by the time I was 13 I was drinking alcohol at ‘bush parties’ with my school mates. At 16, I was also using drugs, because they helped me deal with the pain of the abuse that I was feeling.
I had never given God much thought, as I had been raised in an atheistic home. My father had often said that God was not real and I wasn’t interested in religion anyway, but at 18 I came face to face with the God my father said did not exist.
My drinking had intensified and after an all-night drinking session in the local park, I couldn’t find my way home. That’s when I accidentally stumbled into a Salvation Army meeting. I believe God was looking after me that day.
The people at Gladstone Salvation Army Corps invited me to stay and, through their acceptance and non-judgment, they shone a light on the Lord. I saw that and my life began to change.
I became part of the leadership of Gladstone’s Kids Club, learning about Jesus alongside the children. That’s when I committed my life to Christ. At 18, I had a child-like faith and I wanted to know more and more about God.
When I was 22 I moved to Rockhampton, and friends took me to the local corps (church) where I was again taken in and loved by everyone. Then I met a young woman, Alana, and later that year I was enrolled as a Salvation Army soldier.
Less than three years later Alana and I were married, but in 2008 we lost our first child. I found the loss difficult to understand. Why had God done this to me and Alana? I was angry with God. I didn’t understand. Was God saying that it was my fault because of my past? It was hard, it was confusing; I wasn’t coping.
I didn’t attend Sunday services for a few weeks because I didn’t trust God any more, but the first Sunday I went back, people just came up to me and hugged me. I cried like a baby. I knew that I was home among God’s people who cared.
In 2009 Alana and I attended the local Salvation Army youth meetings, where God challenged me to grow more with him every day. On the last night of youth councils I felt the presence of God like never before. It was such a powerful moment. God told me to let go of what had happened to Alana and me; that it was his burden now. I gave that burden to him and I cried and I cried for what felt like ages.
Later that year, Alana and I committed our lives to full-time service for God through The Salvation Army. On 10 December 2009, our corps officers (ministers), Majors Colin and Pam Robinson, told us that we had been accepted into the ‘Friends of Christ’ session of officer training cadets (Salvation Army clergy) for 2010–2011.
We took up our first appointment as corps officers at Bathurst, in the Central West of NSW, in January 2012, where we are still serving with our two sons, Zachariah and Joel.
God was always there along my journey to faith, and still guides me each day.
With thanks to Pipeline magazine.