When Bill Mann discovered God in a new way his life was changed forever.
My parents divorced when I was eight, and my younger brother and I went with Mum. She did a tremendous job raising two boys on her own.
At 15 I was struggling with who I was and what my life was all about. My mental health was suffering. Then, my brother went to a Salvos’ ‘Max’ camp. When he came home, he wouldn’t stop talking about God. He’d say, “God is here and God is great”.
My dad called me on my 16th birthday—the first time in eight years he’d made any contact. He was drunk and told me I wasn’t his son, that I was an accident, a waste of space and that there was no hope or future for me. To me, they felt like ‘words of death’.
Later that night, I read Jeremiah 29:11: “I say this because I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” These words of life contrasted so completely with what my dad had said to me.
A few months later, I attended the Salvos youth ‘Discovery’ camp. One night we had a Bible message on John 10:10: ”I [Jesus] came to give life—life in all its fullness.” At the time, I felt so defeated. What was the point of all this? Did God really have a plan and purpose for my life? Was there hope and a future?
Alone in my room, I told God that I didn’t know who he was and, if he was real, he would need to show himself to me. At that moment, my mobile phone went off for no reason. It was on top of my Bible, so I guessed that God might want me to read it.
I told God again that this was his one moment to save me. He had to show me that he was there. I closed my eyes and flipped open the Bible. My eyes fell on Mark 11:22: “Have faith in God”.
This was a transforming moment. I felt that God was intimately revealing himself to me as I called out to him. It was time to jump right in. I knew I needed to start following Jesus; I needed this relationship with God and to have my life turned upside down.
From there, my relationship with God went from strength to strength. I found a message of love and forgiveness in Jesus, and I wanted to share that message at every opportunity.
I now work part-time as a youth and children’s worker at Chifley Mission and I’m studying for an Advanced Diploma in Ministry. The Salvos invested in me and helped me encounter God, and I want to do the same for others.
First appeared in Others magazine