John and Jean say helping and praying for others while collecting for the Salvos’ work in their Liverpool (NSW) community energises them and brings them closer to God.
John: I collect for the Salvos every week at the local shopping centre, and Jean and I collect at a large hardware centre in Western Sydney. Because of my age — I’m 84 — I get a huge number of people of a similar age who stop and chat. Some talk about their health issues, or about feeling isolated, or maybe they’ve lost a partner and are struggling emotionally and financially.
I say, “I’ll pray for you”, or pray with them if they want me to, and then I’ll see them the next week and they’re nearly dancing along, coming to tell me what has happened. Prayer really makes a difference.
A lot of older people are not well off health-wise and I know exactly how they feel. I had cancer of the oesophagus 13 years ago. I could almost see in the faces of the doctors that they didn’t hold out much hope. But I came through it okay and here I am so many years later. Now I’m here to help other people.
My — and Jean’s — relationship with God has deepened a lot more since we started going to the Salvos. That really started us thinking we should do more for others. And that’s what we’re doing, and we love it.
Jean and I think so highly of The Salvation Army. It’s a wonderful organisation. We have found everyone extremely helpful and caring. They really go above and beyond.
Jean: When John’s not at Westfield shopping centre people miss him and want to know where he’s been — he was in hospital lately. But, thank God for all his help and love, John’s bounced back.
It’s important to not only be out there to help others, but also to collect for resources to assist people who are struggling. Our church does meals three days a week for people who are homeless. There are a lot of needs in the community.
We get great feedback in the community, too. It was amazing how many people came up to us during the Red Shield Appeal in May and said, “The Salvation Army has helped us, or someone we know, in so many ways; here’s a donation.”
What motivates me the most is love for and from the Lord and wanting to make a difference to people’s lives. Our hearts go out when we see people in need, hurting and confused. We want to love them with God’s love.
We see people who have nothing and are out on the streets. A few years ago we put someone up who had domestic issues and needed a safe house, and it made us realise even more just how important it is for every person to have someone who cares for them.
My uncle was a Salvation Army major a long time ago and many of my nieces and nephews are officers (ministers). About 10 years ago we became more involved with the Salvos because they were really out there and caring about what people were going through.
Although I have always been a Christian, since I’ve been with the Salvos I’m a more devoted Christian, if that makes sense. I talk to the Lord more and I feel he talks to us and really guides us. God also provides in amazing ways, even though he tests you, too, and waits for you to rely totally on him, saying, “Father I need your help. You are the only one who can help me.”
It is a great joy to serve God and help others. I just want to keep going and going. You are only as young as you feel and every year I feel younger!