For Emma, it was the love of God shining through the local Salvo ministers that turned her life around.
I can now see the ripple effect that pain, dysfunction and abuse can have on a family for generations. I can also see the positive ripple effect of God’s love. Not just through my work with The Salvation Army—but also through my own experience.
I grew up in really troubled situation, but I am thankful for my Nan’s love and the fact that she took me to an Anglican Sunday school for years. At 13, I walked away from any faith (after someone from another religion told me all the dysfunction and abuse I had experienced as a child was God’s plan).
Almost inevitably, I ended up in awful, violent relationships for many years before I broke free.
My life began to change when I met the ministers from the local Salvos, Peter and Leanne. They ran a kids club and one of my children was friends with a couple of the kids who went, so they asked if they could go, too. I planned to just drop them off and pick them up and not engage with anyone.
But over the next two or three years Leanne would just say hi and ask me for coffee and we would chat.
At that time, one of my daughters was having some terrible struggles with her mental health and one day I spoke to Leanne from the back of the ambulance as paramedics were fighting to save my daughter’s life. They started hooking up monitors and I was taken out to talk to a psychiatric registrar. I came out 10 minutes later and there’s Leanne and Peter standing beside the hospital bed.
And through more years of trauma, fighting publicly to get my daughter help, and my own breakdown, Peter and Leanne were always there.
In the meantime my son had become involved with the Salvos and I said to him, “Look, I’ll come to church with you the first time only.” But I went that first day and I’ve been going ever since.
Leanne and Peter provided me and my children with a safe, patient path to God. I can never thank them enough. Then a couple of years ago, they spoke to me about a volunteer position as a welfare worker.
I’ve been doing welfare for nearly two years now and I’m doing some studies that will take me down the road of chaplaincy. I also volunteer with the local rural fire service.
We have a high level of vulnerable people with generational problems in our community and unfortunately society often gives up on them before they get the opportunity to change.
But I know firsthand about God’s love that changes people. People here can’t believe the change in me—honestly I can’t believe the change in me. Now I’m all about passing that on.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst