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Andrew discovers his true self in Jesus

Andrew is a Senior Soldier at Coffs Harbour Corps on the NSW mid-north coast.

Overwhelmed by emptiness, Andrew pleaded for divine intervention. God, who had never left nor forsaken him, delivered Andrew in a powerful way. He recently told his story when being enrolled as a Senior Soldier at Coffs Harbour Corps (NSW).


My life was far from glamorous. My childhood was not like any picture-perfect family. I witnessed struggles and conflicts that no kid should ever be witness to.

I would lie in my bed each night pretending to be asleep, praying for all the pain to go away. The pain I felt couldn’t be expressed in words. Before long, I was taken away and placed in foster care. I felt lost and abandoned. I found solace in the quiet moments, gazing up at the night sky, wondering about my purpose in this life.

Some years passed and I returned home. The next few years are as if they have been wiped from my memory.

Though not raised in a religious household, I found myself at the age of eight, walking into a church by myself and sitting amongst the 300-plus people in the church pews listening to the words of God. Though I was riddled with the fear of anxiety in my life, I felt at peace. For the next few years, I found myself attending Sunday services, after-school kids’ Bible classes and doing the work of Jesus by helping the elderly and less fortunate through the church.

As I grew older, I faced my own battles, grappling with feelings of loneliness and self-doubt. My troubles grew, and I found myself entangled in a web of bad choices. I sought solace in the wrong places, searching for meaning and purpose in all the wrong things. The allure of drugs and the subsequent pain they inflicted on my life consumed me.

Andrew loves serving God and loving others through the ministries of Coffs Harbour Salvation Army.

During these dark times, I resisted the call of God, turning away from my faith in search of solace elsewhere. It is in these moments of rebellion that I learned firsthand the perils of straying from the path of righteousness.

Overwhelmed by the emptiness that consumed me, I found myself filled with self-hatred. Thoughts of suicide frequently crossed my mind as I struggled to find solace within the confines of my mundane existence. Every aspect of my everyday life no longer provided comfort.

In a desperate attempt to awaken the dormant spirit within me and escape the emotional void, I began actively seeking out danger. Engaging in activities that others would avoid became my means of feeling something, anything at all. The adrenaline rush of taking risks became my only refuge.

However, if it hadn’t been for divine intervention, on multiple occasions, I wouldn't be here today. These miraculous interventions, occurring at just the right moments, saved me from the brink of despair and allowed me to continue this journey called life.

Filled with a desperate longing for guidance and redemption, I reached out, pleading for divine intervention. It was in this vulnerable moment of surrender that a transformative encounter unfolded before me, forever altering the trajectory of my life. The presence of divine grace enveloped me, embracing me with its ethereal touch, drawing me closer to the purpose for which I was created.

Andrew (second from right) is part of the street ministry team that operates the Salvos’ mobile food truck in Coffs.

Since that profound experience, my life has taken on a new meaning. It has ignited a spark within me, propelling me towards fulfilling the purpose I was meant to serve. The divine grace that washed over me continues to guide me on this spiritual journey, empowering me to make meaningful changes and seek a deeper connection with God.

It was as if the weight of the world had been lifted. A kind-hearted congregation – Coffs Harbour Salvation Army – welcomed me with open arms, offering love, acceptance and understanding.

As I immersed myself in the teachings of the Bible, I began to rediscover the faith that had always resided within me. I found strength in prayer, guidance in Scripture, and solace in the fellowship of my new-found community. God’s grace renewed a sense of purpose and hope.

With each passing day, my life transformed. I sought forgiveness for past mistakes, making amends and striving to live a life of integrity and kindness. My troubled past was not forgotten, but it no longer defined me. Instead, it served as a testament to the incredible power of redemption and the unwavering love of God.

Throughout my journey, I acknowledge the immense impact of the people who have walked alongside me. I express a profound gratitude for the inspirational individuals who provided unwavering support, encouragement and guidance. These mentors, friends and fellow believers helped me navigate the trials and tribulations, reinforcing my faith and proving the power of community.

No matter how lost we may feel, there is always a path to rediscover our true selves and find solace in the loving embrace of God.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul tells us: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it”.

Because of Jesus my heart is free.

A pivotal moment in Andrew’s faith journey – being baptised by Coffs Harbour Corps Officer Major Andrew van Gaalen.


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