For Rosemary Campbell, it was hard to believe she had a future. Then the Salvos introduced her to God—and gave her hope.
It was my son who first got me to the Salvos.
He was invited to go along with one of his friends to a thing called Boys Legion at The Salvation Army. Well I’d never heard of them—never knew they existed.
Because they had Boys Legion ‘church parades’ on a Sunday, I went along to a few. The kids wanted to go back to church and they kept hounding me so we just kept on going. I sat in the back row so I could get out quick!
I’m the youngest of eight kids. We were brought up Catholic but we didn’t go to church. Mum and Dad would fight and argue, and they both drank too much. They were there but never there. They’d be at the pub drinking. My eldest sister was basically my mum. I went to seven different primary schools because of all the shifting around we did. So I basically gave up on school and found a job. While things were difficult, I always felt loved.
When I was eight, I did my first Holy Communion and that’s when I first heard about this higher person called God and I just wanted to know more. Through the years, I started to feel that God had his hand on my life somehow.
I met my future husband when I was 16 and married him when I was 17. The honeymoon was absolutely fantastic but after that I discovered my new husband was a closet drinker and when he drank he got violent.
Our relationship unravelled. He told me I wasn’t worth anything. He told me I was stupid. He wouldn’t let me make any decisions. He wouldn’t allow me any money. He would do the shopping. I scrounged to find five-cent pieces to put petrol in the car to get the kids to school. The violence increased. He would threaten us and I believed he would most likely shoot us all. I realised my marriage was over and I needed to take the kids and go. They deserved a better life than this.
And that was the time when the Salvos stepped up.
I said earlier I used to sit up the back of the Salvos’ Sunday services. Actually, I soon felt like I’d found a new home. I’d had 18 years of abuse and the Salvos helped me through when my marriage broke up. They helped me through when I needed to find a place for my family to live. They helped me through with counselling and courses that brought me inner healing and optimism about the future.
However, most importantly, my spiritual search culminated in a personal encounter with God.
God put people around me. People who encouraged me. People who I could talk to. People who would support me so that I was able to do things. I got my self-esteem back. As my faith in God grew and doors of opportunity opened, I gained increased confidence to move out of my comfort zone. I had found a new purpose for my life.
It’s been a huge journey. And I couldn’t have managed and come through as strong and healthy as I am today without God’s help. He brought me to a totally new way of living.
I used to live in fear. I used to feel unloved. I used to wonder whether I had a future. Now I know I do, and now I feel an inner peace. And now I know that whatever struggles I go through, I’m not alone.
As told to David McMurray