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Cadet Sam answers ‘burning’ call to officership


Cadet Sam Paramaraj with her husband Deepesh and their two children.

By KIRRALEE NICOLLE 

Sameeha Paramaraj, who goes by Sam, never thought she would undertake officer training with The Salvation Army in Melbourne. She never even knew she would live in Australia.


She had grown up largely in the care of her grandparents, who loved God and ministered in the Lutheran church in India. Then while living as an expatriate occupational therapist in Qatar, Sameeha felt she was fulfilled as a working wife and mother of two.


However, her son’s language needs eventually led her and her family to seek permanent residency in a country that offered play-based learning approaches. After being rejected for Canadian visas, they tried Australia. In their case, the process of getting skilled visas was straightforward.


Sam and her grandparents Reverend Sebastian and Devapoo Sebastian, who had a big influence on her life.

They received permanent residency quickly and settled in Western Australia after God revealed to Sam through a message from a friend that Perth would be their home.

“I prayed to God, saying I’ll call every person in Australia [that I know],” Sam said. If they say come and stay with us, I’ll know that that’s the place that God has for us. There was one person in Perth who said you can come and stay in my house until you find another accommodation. That was it.”

But when they arrived, life started to feel bleak for Sam. No matter how many jobs she applied to, doors kept shutting. After a successful career in the neonatal intensive care unit in Qatar, this was a shock. She had also lost her grandmother a year before the move and felt her connection to God had slipped with her grandmother’s death. Her grandmother had communicated with God regularly in prayer and visions, and Sam now felt isolated from other believers.

“I realised that I missed that huge communication between God and me, which was my grandmother,” she said. “I thought, ‘That’s the endpoint, and now God is not going to talk to any of our family members anymore’.”

God steps in

Then her husband, a chef, found consistent work. They bought a house in Perth, and Sam tried to settle into life as a stay-at-home mum.

“It was kind of suffocating for me to take up that housewife role,” she said. “But I enjoyed being with my kids as well, so that joy took over.”

Then, two years after they arrived in Australia, God spoke.

“[In the] early morning, 4am, Jesus called, and he said come and pray,” Sam said. “I just got up. I didn’t think anything. I took the songbook, sang a song, read the Scriptures and then knelt down to pray. That’s when I felt the presence of the Father, and I was terrified.”

She said she couldn’t speak and felt a strong sense that she was a sinner.

“The feelings of fear and trembling and guilt and all those things were coming up,” she said. “Anguish. I wanted to hide from this presence, but I knew that I can’t hide from him.”

She said God then gave her a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, feeling anguish as well over the pain he was to endure.

“That scene just came up in front of me, and I felt the connection was there,” Sam said.

She said she remembered the story from her childhood of Christ and the cross and knew this was the hope she could cling to. For the first time, she felt it was not just a 2000-year-old story but a story of her own life on the cross. She confessed her sins and repented. She said God then instructed her to use the time she usually spent watching TV to read the Bible instead, and she did this for the next four years, from 2018 until 2022.

Salvation Army connection

Sam’s father had been a Salvationist, but until God spoke to her, she didn’t have much connection with the organisation. Shortly after her vision from God, she began attending a local corps at Armadale.


Sam and fellow cadet Vikki Song out and about in Melbourne.

A Salvationist friend invited her to a Bible study, which helped her grow in her reading of Scripture. Then, when new officers arrived from the UK and came to visit her home, her husband was impressed with their attitude and demeanour. He began attending church as well. He had previously shown little interest in being involved in the corps.

“All these [things] were God-appointed so that he [would] later allow me to become a soldier,” Sam said. “Otherwise, he would be a great hindrance in this decision.”

She then chose to become an adherent. When soon after God spoke again, asking her whether she would work for him, a day later, Sam was asked by her corps officer if she would volunteer in emergency relief. Then her husband became more curious. He asked the corps officer if there were study opportunities Sam could pursue, and they learned about Eva Burrows College in Melbourne. Sam applied and was accepted to study.

“While I was studying, I kept the soldiership book that [the corps officer] gave me [on] my shelf,” she said. “The soldiership word was there in big, big, bold letters, and whenever I look at that, something was burning inside me.

“I said, OK God, if my husband allows, then I would [make] the decision to go forward with that. One day I gathered courage, and I asked him, ‘Would you mind if I become a soldier?’ He said, ‘Yes, no problem, go ahead’.”

With this news, Sam rapidly became a soldier and applied for officer training. The family sold their house in Perth and moved to Melbourne in January 2023. She is now in the first year of officership training at Eva Burrows College as part of the Champions of the Mission session. She said God carefully orchestrated every aspect of her journey to lead her to where she is.

“It was all one step at a time that God led,” Sam said. “And now, when I look back, I can connect the pieces.”


To find out more about Eva Burrows College, visit https://evaburrowscollege.edu.au/.



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