Ron was 59 years old, with a successful job, a company car, a home and an investment property—then God called him to leave it all.
I was born into a Christian family. My parents were Salvation Army officers (ministers) and we spent time in Africa when I was a boy.
I rebelled quite significantly around the age of 18. I left The Salvation Army and was away from God for about 13 years. I really believe my mother prayed me ‘back into the fold’. In my early 30s, I came back to Christian faith after losing almost everything. I’d had a relative who committed suicide and realised that if I kept going the way I was going, I would quite likely soon be dead myself.
For 10 years, I was a single dad to my five kids, and worked as a mechanic, before meeting my wife-to-be, Cheryl, at Brisbane City Temple (Salvos church). She had a daughter, so we became a big family and continued worshipping there.
After we married, I began work for a transport company and for over 11 years I worked my way up from a driver to a warehouse manager. I was well paid, with a company car. We were paying off our own home and an investment property.
Then one day the Lord clearly called me to become the caretaker of the church. At the time the position was voluntary. My immediate response was, “No! No way,” but the call wouldn’t go away.
So Cheryl and I sat down and I discovered, “Yes, it was possible,” if we were willing to totally surrender our material security. Acting upon this meant selling our houses, giving up my job and moving on site—so we did!
Very soon after, the church offered me a position which included the role of community engagement worker. We began opening our church weekly to offer those alone in the city morning tea, lunch, a safe place to relax, play games and to chat. Cheryl works part-time as a nanny and also is very involved in our church.
I then felt strongly led by God to undertake a Diploma in Chaplaincy. I spoke to our leaders about it. They were open to it and the church sponsored me through it.
At first, when I heard all work was to be submitted online, I was in a panic. I had no idea how to do that on a computer. I could have so easily got up, walked out and said, “I can’t do this!”
But I persevered and got my diploma. I just couldn’t have done that in my own strength. God has continually moved me onto the next thing—and the next thing.
I recently accepted a position as a Magistrate Court chaplain for the Salvos. I have never loved a job so much. I’m so excited about coming to work and mixing with those facing court—victims, families; magistrates, judges, police prosecutors—the whole spectrum. I have seen people’s outlook, demeanour and lives transformed when someone has simply journeyed with them through the tough times while at the same time introducing them to God.
Looking back, I can see how incredibly the Lord has guided us and provided for us, but first he needed me (and us) to put everything in his hands. This meant stepping away from everything I saw as my security and totally relying on him.
Words just can’t fully describe the life we have now been given and I have absolutely no doubt that whatever situation I find myself in, God is more than enough and he has everything totally in hand.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst