The kindness of a stranger led Jean Fox to a deeper relationship with God.
Jean Fox thanks God for drawing her to a Salvation Army Family Store on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast about 25 years ago. She has no idea why she stopped by, but standing at the counter, with the stress of a failing marriage to an alcoholic husband weighing heavily on her soul, Jean burst into tears.
“I just fell to pieces!” she remembers. “A lady in a Salvation Army uniform came out of her office and said, ‘Come in and have a cuppa with me, I can’t let you drive home like this’.”
Two hours later Jean felt strengthened, knowing she could call in on that “lovely Salvo woman” anytime she wanted to chat. She was also puzzled, in a grateful way, to think a stranger could care so much. Gail Martin, the “lovely Salvo woman”, became a friend and invited Jean to church.
“Gail said, ‘If ever you feel like coming to church, I’ll be standing at the door with song books, and you can sit with me’,” Jean recalls.
Jean took up that offer. When she arrived at Caboolture Salvation Army, she saw Gail standing at the front doors. As she sat next to her new friend in the service, God made himself known.
“I just thought, ‘This is exactly what’s in my heart. This is my place of worship and these people believe and do exactly what’s in my heart’.”
Jean’s marriage ended, as she expected it would. But she gained an unexpected blessing through the pain: a deeper relationship with God and a calling on her life. She soon became a church member and began to help out.
What God did next was also unexpected. He called her into ministry with people in addiction through her passion for baking (Jean has owned and operated several cake decorating stores).
“We got new officers [ministers], Majors Helen and Bruce Ellicott, and one day she was telling us about her son who was in addiction,” Jean says. “She was going down to see him at The Salvation Army’s Moonyah Recovery Services Centre [in Brisbane].
“I had done a cupcake demonstration that day for Home League [a women’s group] and had some cakes left over. I said to her, ‘Would you like to take these cakes with you?’”
Helen took the cakes and told Jean her they’d had a powerful impact on the folk at Moonyah.
“She said the look on their faces was almost like, ‘Did somebody make these for us?’, like they weren’t used to somebody making something especially for them.”
When Jean offered to make more cupcakes for the Ellicotts’ visit to Moonyah Chapel the following week, she was encouraged to attend as well. She felt God calling her to accept the invitation, so she baked 10 dozen cupcakes and off they went.
Nearly six years later, Jean rarely misses a week delivering cupcakes to participants at Moonyah Chapel. “God said to me, ‘This is a great connecting tool and is a way to get to know people and let them know in this hard time in their life that someone cares about them’.”
Jean now stands at the door on Sundays greeting people as they arrive at Caboolture Salvation Army. She acts as a chaplain, to help many individuals and families coming in for support at the Salvation Army ministry centre and services. She also calls in regularly to the Narcotics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous groups running at the church to see graduates from Moonyah she’s met through the cupcake ministry.
“I would say, ‘Be still, and if you ever get a tap on the shoulder that God’s calling you to do something then be obedient’. I lift my eyes and sometimes just say, ‘Thank you God’.”
For more stories of people making a difference, go to others.org.au