From a hard childhood with many unhappy foster homes, Steve eventually found peace and a purpose through a connection with The Salvation Army.
It all started when Steve was a kid and welfare took him from his mother. He was fostered out to different homes and he and his siblings were separated.
From a very young age Steve came under the influence of alcohol and drugs and didn’t respect anything to do with the law. Over six years he was placed in many different homes, all of which he would run away from.
At 11 years of age he was drinking, taking drugs and doing illegal things. He felt that everyone gave up on him—he even thought God gave up on him, especially when one of the foster families said they were Christians but were cruel to him.
Through this time he found himself praying to God for a release from the situation, to be together again with his family, but he couldn’t understand why these prayers weren’t being answered.
So he kept going back to self-destructive ways and was consequently hassled by the police. He knew the system made him the way he was, and he kept praying to God to help him.
Throughout his life Steve had a connection with God, and also with The Salvation Army, having gone to Sunday school during his childhood. So when he came across The Salvation Army in Bathurst it became a road to getting his life on track.
Ten years ago Steve started volunteering with the Family Store at Bathurst, and then realised that God had been with him all the time.
Although many times he would revert to his old life, he would always come back. During one of these times when he found himself lying in the gutter outside the Salvos church, the Salvo corps officer (minister) at the time joined him there and picked him up out of the gutter. This began a time of healing, with a realisation that people did care, and a bigger understanding that God had been there all along.
Steve was encouraged to go to church the following Sunday where he felt God come close. God suddenly felt real to him. He also starting going to Alcoholics Anonymous.
When Steve’s son Cory passed away a few years ago, in his sorrow he thought he might have slipped back and he kept on praying to God that he would be given him strength and he has.
Last December, having been the Family Store manager for about five years, Steve and his wife Di , who he met when he was 17, became adherents of The Salvation Army.
Steve has been helping with collection around the pubs for the last few months, pubs he would frequent many years before, some of which once threw him out. People who knew him then often comment on the massive change they see in him.
God has continued to be Steve’s strength over the years, and he says, “I’m so glad that I found God and I feel good that I can help people just as I have been helped. I have been where they are.”
As told to Lieutenant Penny Williams