It was seeing god change her son’s life that led Diane to let him change hers.
Diane Hill grew up in Salvation Army corps (churches) and, while she always believed in God, she felt that something was lacking in her Christian walk. Then she witnessed a remarkable transformation in her son’s life. She shares:
I describe myself as having ‘yellow red and blue blood flowing through me’ (the colours of The Salvation Army flag). I am a fourth-generation ‘Salvationist’; my children are fifth and my grandchildren sixth.
When my mum died suddenly of a heart attack aged 70, I had two little kids and I was really struggling emotionally with the loss. In that period, I came to understand that, while I believed in God and had grown up in The Salvation Army, I hadn’t really been living out my own faith, but that of my mother.
And for many years afterwards, I was very aware that I didn’t have that relationship with Jesus that others so obviously had.
My son Andrew joined the NSW Police and was soon seriously struggling with the clash of Salvation Army church culture and the lifestyle of many of his peers. As he faced all the challenges that come with being a police officer I could see him being consumed by that culture and slipping away from his faith.
He was close to giving up on The Salvation Army—his church. But on what might have been his last day going to church he responded to a call from the officer (minister) to surrender all to God. He came down from the back of a very large auditorium-style church to the mercy seat (a place for prayer and counselling) at the front, and you could hear his sobs through the whole building.
From that moment something changed in him. He encountered God in a powerful way and he was full of joy and passion. He was a new person. Not long after that decision, Andrew met his (now) wife Kim who is an incredible woman of faith.
She has since been through a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy. Her faith has been like a rock to our whole family. Seeing the change in Andrew made me understand more than ever that I had to truly surrender my life to God and in 1998 I finally did that. I soon saw so many prayers answered and ever since have had a huge passion for prayer.
In 2016 my husband had a near-death experience—with a strangulated ulcer that pushed through the stomach wall. He was hovering between life and death for four days and there were people we knew in The Salvation Army all over the world praying for him. He now also understands the power of prayer.
I have a background in hairdressing and market research, but am now a prayer coordinator for Hurstville (Sydney) Corps—we recently held a 24- hour prayer vigil. Among other things I recently became an ‘Honoured Friends’ representative, supporting those who have pledged a legacy to The Salvation Army in their wills.
I believe deeply in the power of God and also in the work of The Salvation Army. We had a young relative who became addicted to ice. She booked herself into The Salvation Army drug, alcohol and gambling recovery centre at Dooralong in NSW and is now a counsellor helping others.
When you see lives change from bitterness, torment or addiction to peace, joy and hope, it’s very powerful.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst.