In every corner of this country, lives are being changed by the work of the Salvos. Here are just some of the stories of people transformed and inspired to join us in our fight for a better Australia.
Jayden was in the grip of an ice addiction, but then he started to pray—and god answered
I was bullied at school and dropped out in Grade 9 after I was offered a chef’s apprenticeship.
But a relationship breakdown when I was 20 caused me to start using drugs, specifically ice. I grew up with quite a lot of pain in my life from my mum and dad’s divorce, so when my relationship broke down, I really didn’t know how to deal with it.
When I used ice it took away the pain.
I had over a year of intense addiction and there were a few rock-bottom moments. Just before Christmas, I knew my son was being born, but I wasn’t allowed to see him and I threatened to kill people in the hospital. I hated the person I’d become—I just wasn’t that aggressive person at all.
People were chasing me for the money I owed. I was going to be killed. I called my dad, and he gave me the money but the condition was that I had to enter rehab.
I went to Moonyah (Salvation Army Brisbane Recovery Services) but I was just an immature kid and threatened somebody on the program, so they asked me to leave.
I went to stay with someone close who I knew had drugs, and I became psychotic. I was hiding in a public toilet thinking people were chasing me but there was no real threat. It was all in my head but I just couldn’t escape—it was horrible.
Then a lot of really amazing things happened and I now look back and see God was there. It was during that time I prayed my first prayer.
I knew they had no room in rehab, but my prayer was if that was where I was meant to be I’d get a place, and I did!
In my first few weeks back at Moonyah nothing much changed—but I kept praying even though I didn’t know who God was. (I thank God for praying grandmas because I found out later that mine prayed for me every day.)
Then one night, I looked up out of my window and it all got super bright and I saw a white light coming towards me and it gently kissed my face. I know now it was the Holy Spirit. Then, just as suddenly, it was gone and I fell asleep feeling truly safe and secure for the first time in a very long time.
I did the rehab program and gained a determination and confidence that I never had before.
While I had my moments, God gave me this huge motivation. I was so determined that I did every extra course offered, I made a great friend in there who had my back and I was invited to spiritual camps and conventions.
It seems God was truly guiding me every step of the way. While in recovery I heard they wanted to start cooking classes so I applied and said, “I’m a trained chef and I’d be happy to teach people to cook.” I ran a course and later applied to become a full-time chef at Moonyah.
To me it is heaps more than a job.
Because I’ve come straight off the program, a lot of participants come up and talk openly and the chefs’ office I share has become a prayer room.
Now I spend Saturday with family, but Sundays mean church services (including the Salvos’ God’s Sport Arena and now a local Pentecostal church) morning and night.
God has also brought a beautiful Christian girl into my life and we are planning our future together.
I know I’m still young, but I’ve experienced a lot in my life already and the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that God transforms lives!
His love of sport and a Salvo football Club kept Tey going.
Tey was 10 years old when he took up Aussie Rules football. Five years ago, Tey’s depression and anxiety led him to drug abuse. He lost touch with the game and never thought he’d play again.
“The drug abuse really isolated me. I felt very alone. I didn’t have any confidence or self-worth.”
But a chance introduction to a Salvos Hawks football club player led to a significant step in Tey’s recovery. The Salvos Hawks team is managed through a Salvation Army homelessness support service in Victoria and it relies on the support of volunteers who help with umpiring, first aid and other roles.
The benefits of this initiative are invaluable. Tey has undertaken more and more responsibility with the team by volunteering to coach and support the other players.
“It’s important for me to pay it forward and support the younger guys coming through—keeps the flames burning.”
Tey is now the Salvos Hawks assistant coach and administrator, training the players and working on tactics.
“I don’t think I could have pictured myself this way five years ago. I would not have thought this was possible. It’s a part of my life, I really enjoy it. No plans to stop!”
INGLE FARM, SA
The Salvos helped save Ingrid’s life and now she is making a difference in the lives of others.
The first time Ingrid walked into Ingle Farm Salvos she was drunk.
“I had a bottle of beer in one hand and I was yelling abuse,” she says. “The people here would often find me asleep on the front steps on a Sunday morning after a big night of drinking. But they just accepted me. Some lovely people here took me under their wing.”
Ingrid had a difficult childhood. Her father was an alcoholic who died when she was five. Her stepfather was abusive towards her, and her mother put her into a foster home. In high school Ingrid developed behavioural problems and was placed in various institutions. She left school in Year 8 to start work.
After two failed marriages, she developed into a heavy drinker and her children were taken from her.
“I came to Ingle Farm Salvos because people here actually tried to help me and they cared about me,” says Ingrid.
She started doing odd jobs for the Salvos and today she is the food storeroom manager, working at least two days a week.
“If it wasn’t for this place, I would be dead,” Ingrid says.
The Salvos gave Martin his life back, and now he is giving new life to others.
After moving to Australia when he was 13, Martin struggled to fit in because of the language barrier. He eventually found something that made him feel like he belonged—smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.
Fast-forward a decade and Martin was $12,000 in debt and stealing from his family to support his ice addiction. Separate to the drug use, Martin developed arthritis, which made it impossible for him to continue working. Eventually he had to tell his family about his problem.
“That was probably the hardest thing I had to do,” he says.
He found his way to The Salvation Army’s Bridge House and then the Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre.
He says the staff at these places were “... some of the most beautiful, forgiving and giving people. I was never judged.”
Since graduating from both programmes, Martin has completed a Certificate IV in Community Services and is now enrolled in a diploma.
Today, Martin is a support worker at The Beacon, the Army’s 102-bed facility in Perth,and is exactly where he feels he should be.
“I want to change the stigma and humiliation of rehab that once an addict, you’re always an addict. Addiction doesn’t care who you are or where you come from. No addict should die without a chance at rehab—and a better life.
“The Salvos gave me my life back ... and a better one at that.”
For Jo, the isolation of homelessness was the worst part.
After running away from home at 13, Jo spent 35 years living on and off the street and battling addictions. Then she found Common Ground, a social housing service in Hobart run by The Salvation Army.
“In retrospect, it was a really sad way to live,” says Jo.
At age 46, Jo found herself sharing a room with a friend who also had nowhere to call home. They tried to find housing but found they were overlooked because they had no dependents.
“We even contemplated how we could go to jail because we had a better chance of being housed when released,” she says.
Finally, Jo was placed in housing at Common Ground. It was there she found an answer to the isolation and was surrounded by a secure, welcoming and stable community.
“You learn a lot from everyone here and you have a community that really cares about you so you can become a positive and constructive person in society.
“If it wasn’t for this place, I believe my life would have stayed how it was or I would have just ended up going back to what I knew.”
When an eagle flew past his prison window Chris knew God had found him.
Mum loved to drink, smoke and party and I was just like her. I left school at 14 and hung around the bowling alley, roamed the streets at night and slept where I could.
I thought drinking and taking drugs was cool, and it gave me confidence. I loved it. I became a regular at the pub, got into trouble with the law and took harder drugs—I had a syringe hanging out of my arm at 15.
As the years went by I spent most of my life around bikers; that was where I felt most comfortable because they understood me. I ran away from Sydney and took the local barmaid with me.
All I owned was a rusty old Ford, an unregistered trailer with a 3.6 m tinny on it, a mattress strapped to the roof, two bull terriers and my motorcycle magazine collection. I felt hopeless, but somehow thought things would get better.
Years passed and that barmaid looked after and cared for me through hard times—she stood by me.
I was on bail, living in my car, when I turned up drunk at the Sawtell AA meeting. I was welcomed and a kind man told me I could get a feed at The Salvation Army on Wednesday night. I turned up there drunk and met Major Steve Metcher who prayed for me and cared about me when I didn’t care about myself.
He challenged me to pour out my grog, and somehow I did—all my beer and a bottle of wine went down the stairs of the church car park. Praise God I haven’t had alcohol since that day—6 May 2009.
Major Steve never gave up on me. I had to face charges in court and was sentenced to six months jail.
For the first time I was on my knees and prayed “Please God, help me”. An eagle flew close to my window and hovered—I believe it was a spiritual awakening, sent to me in prison. A man who was a bit like me invited me to the prison chapel.
We got on well and went to chapel twice a week where there was coffee and cake. I began to feel comfortable there, with those caring Christians who sang songs and prayed for us and gave loving hugs. I read the Bible for the first time in more than 30 years and I felt peace in my life. I had a spring in my step and would walk about whistling.
Two months later my appeal in the district court was granted after a long heart-to-heart with the judge. Majors Steve and Julia never stopped being there for me. They paid for a bed at Adele House Rehab straight after prison. I worshipped each Wednesday at the Salvos and for the first time in my life I surrendered all my bravado and bad behaviour. I was born again, willing to do whatever it takes.
I gradually rejoined the community and that barmaid took me back, God bless her. We both love worshipping at The Salvation Army. I know it’s God’s grace that has saved me and I thank him every day. I love my AA meetings, which I go to several times a week to give back what was freely given to me. The Salvation Army is our second home and family, and I am the happiest I have ever been.
I married that barmaid in May 2011. After two years clean and sober, I enrolled as a senior soldier in May 2011 and my wife enrolled a year later. I have recently been accepted into TSA-MM (The Salvation Army Motorcycle Ministry.) Motorcycles have been my passion all of my life and I have sworn to serve the motorcycle community for Jesus.
Only through hindsight can I see that God has been there all along, I just needed the key to the door.