April’s* faith has helped move her from a life of trauma to a place of peace and now she helps others.
Although I had loving, older parents, I was abused terribly by trusted people outside the family. It was a very traumatic childhood. By the time I was in my teens, I was quite out of control.
I did have a friend who took me to Sunday school and church on and off over the years. She was part of a youth group and at 15 I started to go along with her. I can remember being happy at that time and that’s when I gave my heart to Jesus.
Sadly, our family moved and I didn’t see her very much. I grew away from that faith. I soon started drinking and taking drugs. When I was 17 I found out that I also had cancer. I also developed bulimia.
Life took many twists and turns. I worked for many years, but had a series of dramas and eventually ended up in a psychiatric ward.
During that time I also started getting involved with one of the outlaw bikie clubs and I felt safe and protected (oddly enough). Then I fell pregnant and I remember going to a biker party.
The next morning I could see all these bodies passed our everywhere and there was a young boy walking through the cans and my heart just broke. I thought, “I don’t want my child to grow up in this” so I ran away and ended up with a contract out on my life.
I started going to 12-step meetings but just couldn’t beat my addiction despite many attempts.
Years later I went to pick up the kids after school and crashed the car three times along the way. I was married by this time. I got home and my husband said, “You need to do something about your drinking or I’m taking the house and taking the kids.” I had been to detox but never gone through a recovery program.
My mum made the decision that I’d do the full rehab and the Salvation Army’s Bridge program (in a recovery service) and she’d help with the kids.
That’s where I made the decision to try to walk in my faith, but I kept falling back into drinking and, after my marriage broke up, into unhealthy relationships.
I ended up in another Salvos recovery program and I also started going to Salvos church four years ago. I’ve been sober since graduating from that program.
It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve actively sought God and really tried to live the way I believe he’s wanted me to live. There have been some amazing answers to prayer.
I am now happily married and my husband also comes to church and I’ve been working full-time for the Salvos.
I’ve also studied continually in the areas of community work, nursing, mental health, drug and alcohol support and hold a Masters in Counselling.
I now support people in crisis. I have had people come in who haven’t eaten for days and we can give them a meal and get them other help. We can assist them and link them to the agencies like homelessness services that are available in our area.
I believe I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and love the life I am living. Even though I thought my life was useless, God had a purpose and in all the mess and suffering he has given me deep compassion and used my life experiences to reach out to others.
I had a letter written by a man who said the day he came in and spoke to me, he was planning to go out and kill himself, and the only reason he’s alive is because he could talk to someone who cared enough to listen and help him. I see proof of God’s grace every day.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst