Finding a spiritual 'home' and hope with the Salvos

26 October 2022

Finding a spiritual ‘home’ and hope with the Salvos

Over the past few Christmases, Maureen has lavishly shared the gift of hope. She has ordered, organised, planned and helped pack hundreds of Christmas hampers, and coordinated hundreds, if not thousands, of gifts for children in need. It is hard work, but a joy, she says, and only possible because she first received her own gift of hope through the care of The Salvation Army.

As part-time administration assistant at Craigieburn Salvation Army, as well as an attendee with the Salvos’ Moonee Valley Recovery Church for the past five and a half years, Maureen smiles as she thinks back to the night she and husband Brian first came into contact with the Salvos.

At that stage, things were desperate in Maureen and Brian’s life. Struggling with a 29-year-long addiction to cannabis and alcohol, Maureen (together with Brian) had exhausted every avenue to get sober and recover.

Glimmer of hope in battle with addiction

One night, as they attended a 12-step meeting, they saw a sign in the Salvos’ Hall for Salvos Moonee Valley Recovery Church – an informal meeting around a meal and conversation. Maureen says only sheer desperation drove them to attend. They had no interest in anything religious.

The couple skipped the dinner the first night and arrived in time for the service, which was packed. The only seats left were in the front row, which meant escape mid-service was almost impossible!

Maureen explains with a laugh: “The service started and they said, ‘Right, can everyone stand up, we’re going to sing.’ Brian snapped his neck around and said, ‘They sing?’ I was standing there thinking, ‘He’s going to end up walking out as soon as it starts.’ We managed to stay there and got through the whole service.

“Brian ended up telling me later that as soon as the singing started, he was captivated. Alcoholics Anonymous had spiritual talk, but he said, ‘I’ve never been spiritual, but I feel more like that here than anywhere I have ever been.'”

Maureen with Christmas hampers
Maureen with Christmas hampers

Long journey to find hope

The couple have stopped using drugs and alcohol since attending their first night.

Maureen explains that her journey with addiction began when she left school at 16 and secured a well- paying job with a government agency.

“I earned lots of money even though I was only 16. It was well-known that lunch times on Fridays were a two-hour event at the pub with the work team. That’s kind of how it started.”

She says: “At one stage, I used to go to the pub six nights a week. Generally, when I finished work, I would be in the pub by 4.30 and I would stay until the pub closed. Then go to another location until they closed at three in the morning (and still maintain work).

“I ended up meeting my husband Brian about 18 years ago. We were both in addiction and eventually buying huge amounts of marijuana.”

A chance for a different path in life 

Not long after attending Recovery Church, Maureen says the local Salvos took a chance on her and offered her the administration role.

Maureen is now also a member of the ministry leadership team at Recovery Church. Brian has a deep Christian faith and became a Salvation Army adherent (member). He went on to gain his Certificate 4 in Drugs and Alcohol and works helping others.

The couple, who were originally married in a registry office, even renewed their vows on their 10th wedding anniversary at Recovery Church, in front of the community they love.

Celebrate God’s gift of hope this Christmas at your local Salvos
Find local Salvos Christmas events

Maureen says: “[At Salvation Army Recovery Church] there is love and forgiveness. Whatever you have done you are still part of God’s family – a child of God. We really connect and if I’ve got a problem, I can talk to someone, and they can talk to me.

“Our life is better. My husband often says we used to be a house that was more like a war zone. There would be yelling and screaming. It certainly doesn’t happen now. Our relationships with our adult children were also not what they should have been, but that has all changed for the better too.”

While Maureen says she always made an effort to stay in touch with her family over Christmas, relationships are better and deeper. Even though she is exhausted at the end of organising Christmas support through the Salvos, she hopes it gives extra joy and hope to others.

“It is often said how much people rely on credit to be able to buy gifts and that’s putting them in debt. Others are on their own and lonely at Christmas,” Maureen says.

“They’re the sort of people I think about now. If we can give them a gift that can be passed to a child and save them debt and give them a meal and make it feel like Christmas, then we have made a difference.

“[It is good to know] that people who may have gone without presents under the tree, or a proper meal, are having a decent Christmas. That makes me feel happier at Christmas time, too.”

If times are tough, the Salvos are here to offer you hope this Christmas.
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