Going back to the Salvos was like coming home for Heather Horneman.
I was born in Scotland.
My father was a heavy drinker and could be abusive. My mother was terribly, terribly shy.
We came to Australia in 1950, when I was four years old.
At first, we lived in a little place near Too-woomba, in Queensland. Dad’s drinking continued. I wasn’t very happy at home.
There was a little Salvation Army hall across the street. I would often slip over because it was a safe place for me to go.
I met Bruce, one of the leaders at the Salvos. He had polio and walked with the assistance of callipers and crutches. He was such a beautiful man. I wanted to be like him.
Just before my ninth birthday, I accepted Jesus as my saviour. Just before my 12th birthday, we moved to a suburb near Wollongong, in NSW.
There was no Salvation Army near where we lived. A lot of things happened and I grew away from God.
I left home at 14. I married at 15 and had my first child at 16.
When I was 32, I came back to God. It was a crazy story. My husband David and I bought a house in Temora, in south-west NSW.
My youngest child wanted to go to Sunday school. I said, “Yeah, right!” Anyway, one day we drove into town.
The only parking space we could find was outside The Salvation Army. Max Brown, who was the bandmaster and a church leader at the Salvos, was handing out copies of Warcry in the street.
He invited me to church. I kind of shrugged it off. The next day, I went to the Westminster Hotel with family. We were in the beer garden and in came a whole lot of Salvos.
I didn’t want to talk to them, so I thought I’d pop off to the restroom. I couldn’t believe it—a Salvo was in there washing her hands. They were everywhere!
So, I said to myself, “Okay, I will take my daughter to Sunday school.” After a bit of persuading, I went with her and, you know, it was like coming home.
Within six weeks, I gave God all the garbage that had happened in my life and he forgave me.
That was in 1981. David has become a Christian, too. So have many of our four children, 14 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and 35 or so foster children.
Six years ago, we retired to a little country town called Briberee, near Young, in south-west NSW. We planned to sit in rocking chairs on our verandah and watch the world go by.
But God wasn’t finished with us. Through our faith and God’s faithfulness, he directed us toward a little Salvation Army church at Grenfell, about 50 km from where we live.
At Grenfell, David and I are the church leaders, we run a family store for The Salvation Army and I teach religious instruction at the local primary school.
As told to Bill Simpson