A tough time for Jayne and her husband Warren turned out to be a Godsend, and started them on a journey into a deep faith and service to their community.
My husband Warren lost his job at 64 after 12 years of service. He was a cleaner and, before that, a process worker in a factory. I worked for 11 years as a process worker, too, but was made redundant. I stayed home, first with my two children, but after that ended up with anxiety and panic attacks.
I was told I would have to find some sort of employment, but I’d been a homebody for decades and if you are not in employment you miss progress with computers and all those things. We were both quite overwhelmed by it all, as we just weren’t brought up with computers.
It was awful. Warren could only find bits of work and I couldn’t even get on a bus on my own with my anxiety. We got a bit down and out, but at the end of our road was a Salvos I walked past every day. One day, I went in to Food for Life—which gives free or very cheap food to people who are struggling—and met a beautiful man named John.
Not only did he help us out, he also told me a married couple had just left that day and they needed volunteers. So we signed up and started volunteer work. It was meant to be; the place is like heaven to me. I do about 15 hours a week, and Warren is there every day it’s open. He works as the barista, he talks to people, he prays for people—he does a really good job. He loves it.
Then two years ago, a church service started up again at the centre. We had never been to church but we started going. Joel, the manager, is also pastor of the church and we’re now very close to him and his family. I asked Jesus into my life after a while. My husband made that commitment before me, but I thought about it for a while—I felt I wasn’t going to do it until I felt really right.
And so we found God, and we found hundreds of friends. On Sunday, if I don’t go to church, part of my life’s not right. The same for my husband—he sits at night and reads the Bible, and now we are leaders at the church.
Joel is like my second son. I feel really close to him. He’s understanding and caring. He’s young and his wife’s just had another baby. It’s quite a community-oriented church. We’re in the community to build it up and we’ve got a good, strong core group of leaders.
It’s a transformation, I suppose. God has made all the difference in our lives and doing this work keeps you really humble. You realise how hard some people do it in the world—for some people all they’ve got to eat all week is the food they get from our centre.
I’m also amazed, when we do our prayer group, just how many prayers are answered. When someone comes to church who’s come to the centre, we see their lives changing. We don’t push our faith on them, but I do share with them because I know what a difference it made in our lives.
The most important thing in the job is just not giving up on people. I see it with Joel—he has such compassion, he just cares so much for everyone around him and it does rub off on you. We have signs all over the shop that say ‘Lead with love’, so when people come in that’s what we try to do.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst