As newcomers to Australia, Saman and her small family were nurtured and mentored by the Salvos.
I’m originally from India. Sadly, my dad died when I was quite young. Although from a Muslim family, I went to a Christian school.
In 1996 I accepted Jesus. I had met my future husband, Ash, who came from a strong Christian background and was the first person to pray with me. That moved me and then one day he shared a song with me—‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’. That song also really changed me.
I think I fell in love with Jesus. When I read more about him in the Gospels I could not find any fault in him at all and the Christian faith was easy and open.
Ash and I married and were doing well in India, but then we came for a visit to Australia and we loved it. We decided to file for residency, but for various reasons our application kept getting delayed. We were finally told by Immigration that it could be years, so we decided to move to New Zealand, so Ash could study while we waited.
What we soon learned was that travelling to another country on a vacation is very different to leaving everything to live in a very different culture. It was a time where we felt quite lost and isolated. I didn’t find a job for many months and all our savings were quickly going.
At first we were renting a room, sharing a house with an Iranian family. Soon after our arrival we were all standing outside on our road in Auckland, looking for a church, when we realised the building we were standing near was actually a church—a Salvation Army corps.
We went on Sunday and were very warmly welcomed by the leaders Majors Paul and Stephanie. They were so warm—they introduced us to their friends, they invited us to their home, and that church became like a family to us.
Eventually Steph turned up at our door and asked, “Sam, would you be interested to work for us as an administrator?”
It was just amazing to work with Paul and Steph and to see how much they cared for their community. People just loved them so much and they loved people back.
They were so accommodating, trusting and caring. They were more like parents than bosses. Both Ash and I could share anything with them. They would visit us, talk to us, pray with us and encourage us.
When we had to move house Paul offered his van. He moved our furniture and he helped us get some extra furniture from a Salvos Store. There was one Christmas we really tight and they brought lovely toys and food for our son. They were small things but they meant so very much.
I really believe I began to understand Christianity a whole lot better just by watching them. And they didn’t just do it for us—but for so many others.
We finally moved to Australia and soon I was climbing up in my career with a big bank. I had just been promoted when I heard of an opportunity to work for The Salvation Army once again. My boss at the bank said, “Sam you are making a big mistake—you are throwing away your career”, but Ash and I had prayed about it.
Today, I work with The Salvation Army raising awareness on the importance of people leaving a gift in their will. I get to show our supporters our programs and services, and I also organise community wills days.
Many of our bequestors have also been long-term supporters; some are elderly and it is a privilege to spend time with them. I can tell them with confidence that whatever funds they contribute help those in greatest need.
I thank God that we have organisations like The Salvation Army in the world and it has been such a very humbling experience to be involved.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst