After the end of her marriage, Tania found acceptance and a place of belonging in the Port Augusta salvos family. She shares her story.
Growing up in Port Augusta in the 1970s, I would go with my family to the local pub for dinner every Friday night. It was there that I first came into contact with The Salvation Army.
I would see the Salvos going around giving out the Warcry and, as it was called then, The Young Soldier (now Kidzone). They also gave out little stickers with Bible memory verses on them.
The Salvos would always stop and talk to me, even though I was just seven years old. I would get really excited when I saw them, and I never wanted to leave the pub and go home unless I’d seen the Salvos and got my magazine and stickers first. I would read The Young Soldier every week.
There was so much good information in it and I was really curious about God. I liked what I read about God and wanted to know more. And I loved those stickers!
I heard about Sunday school and I just felt so strongly that I wanted to go.
My family weren’t interested in coming with me, but they were fine about me going. I asked the Salvos in the pub how I could get there and, with my family’s permission, they picked me up in the old rusty bus each Sunday and took me to the Port Augusta Corps (church) for Sunday school.
I loved it. There were a lot of other kids there and we were learning all about Jesus. I wanted to know more and more. At the age of nine, I became a junior soldier (member). It was such a special time for me. Over time, I also attended corps cadets which taught me even more about Jesus.
When I was around 13 I started going to the corps (church) meetings. A few years later, I began soldiership classes and became a senior soldier at the age of 18. I was so happy at the corps. Everyone knew me, cared for me, and I never wanted to go anywhere else.
In my early 20s, I got caught up in a relationship with a man that I shouldn’t have, and my life quickly became a mess. We left Port Augusta and my family and church.
Over the next five years, I had two beautiful daughters, but my relationship was extremely violent. I was a total wreck. I wasn’t going to church, I didn’t want to know who God was and I tried to stop thinking about him.
God didn’t forget me, though. Through all my mess and wreckage, I knew somehow that he was still with me, and that gave me hope. I reached the point where I knew I had to leave my relationship and return to Port Augusta with my young daughters.
Somehow, I knew God was telling me that it was time to go back, and that I was ready.
I came straight back to the Port Augusta Corps and the people there accepted me right away. I felt welcomed and comfortable; that the past was behind me and I could start again with God. It was so important to me to recommit my life to God, and I wanted to be re-enrolled as a senior soldier (member).
It took me some time to go through the classes but my officer (minister), Captain Michael Johnson, gave me all the time I needed. In January, I became a senior soldier again.
God has brought me full circle. I now help run junior soldier classes and am a ‘Big Bud’ for one of the boys.
I am married again and my husband looks after me and my now grown-up daughters. God has brought me out of chaos and restored my life.
First appeared in Others magazine.