It seemed like Jess had it all, yet she often felt restless and unfulfilled until she realised that loving God and others is the only goal truly worth striving for.
My husband is from Africa and grew up in a Salvation Army church and boarding school, while I grew up in an ostensibly Christian household. When we married, we looked for a church for many years where we could feel comfortable. We had some okay experiences—and we had some absolutely awful experiences. So, to be honest, we just kind of gave up and tried to read the Bible to our kids and teach them ourselves.
Then we found a Salvos church and had our first child dedicated there as a baby. Then our oldest kids reached an age when they were asking questions about God and we didn’t have answers.
When we returned to the Salvos after some time away, the first sermon was all about mercy.
Major Michele (the minister) spoke about God’s mercy and also how God wants us to show the grace and mercy of Jesus in our day-to-day lives. It had us both in tears. The kids came out from kids’ church where they’d learned about David and Goliath and that if they believed in Jesus they could do anything in God’s strength. That’s when we decided we wanted to continue the journey.
My husband has always had a quiet, strong faith, and I developed this overwhelming curiosity to learn more about God and more about the Salvos. I was reading all the time. I went to Majors David and Michele with my questions and they just took me under their wing. They also helped us pray and recommit our lives to each other and to God.
It really started to change our lives. My husband says he’s so grateful to God for his family being closer. To spend Sunday together or to pray together is really lovely. For me, what has changed the most comes down to a sense of fulfilment.
I had a moment last year when I thought, ‘Wow! I have my three beautiful children. I’ve got a caring husband and I’ve got a beautiful home and my own business so I can work from home and look after my kids (although that’s an absolute challenge at times). I really have nothing to be unhappy about—but I’m not happy.’
I was always looking for something else—whether it was a shopping trip or a holiday. I was putting pressure on my kids and husband to help me feel fulfilled and happy. But since going to church and connecting with God, that energy now goes into striving to show the grace and mercy of Jesus.
I own a marketing company and I offered our services to the church. I was frustrated because here was this great church, literally around the corner and a lot of people didn’t realise the Salvos was also a place of worship. We had actively looked for a church for so many years and I know there are other people like us out there still searching.
So the business jumped on board and we started promoting the church’s Carols on the Oval event. The response was off the Richter scale and there are now more than 700 people out there actively following us on social media.
We are hoping to continue with the aim of making ‘soft’ connections with Messy Church, casual carols and a men’s group, because for some people walking through the church doors on a Sunday for the first time can be really daunting.
There’s no desire to put pressure on people. But coming closer to God through the love of Carindale Salvos has honestly transformed our lives, and it is something I’d love others to have the chance to experience for themselves.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst