Faithful Judy experiences a vision of God’s love
In Judy’s darkest moments, lost in the fog of chemotherapy-induced hallucinations, God revealed himself to her in a deeper way than she had ever experienced. She emerged with more faith, more trust and more reliance on the father who “never leaves nor forsakes” his people.
By JUDY SALTER
My husband and I were a ‘walk-in’ off the streets to The Salvation Army many years ago after a traumatic time in our lives.
[Just before this] we went away for a weekend and when we returned our neighbour said our phone had not stopped ringing. Then the phone rang, and it was my husband Max’s brother. They had lost contact, but he told Max he was a born-again Christian.
We decided we would go up for a weekend and catch up, and we went up there, and he sat us down and opened the Bible and said, “This is where your life begins.” The next day was Mother’s Day, and he told us he had been going to The Salvation Army. So we went and liked it, and when we went back to Sydney, we opened the phone book, and the nearest one was Enfield Corps, where Lyndsay and Dawn Smith [now retired officers] were, so we just walked in.
I can’t explain the feeling. It was like coming home, like there was this inaudible voice of God saying, “Where have you been? We have been waiting for you!”
We had to leave Sydney and moved to Grafton because this was where we felt God was telling us to come. Again, we walked in. And it was just like ‘coming home’. I love everything The Salvation Army stands for, how we worship, and the friendship and fellowship. We love it.
Moving to Grafton was like the beginning of our lives. I was 35 before I had my first child. When my son started pre-school, I started volunteering at The Salvation Army Family Store, and then when he went to school, I started doing more hours and ended up being the manager of the store for 20 years.
I love The Salvation Army – it’s hands-on. If there’s something to be done, you just get in and do it. I’m just an average person, but it doesn’t matter if you’re good at anything. You just get in and do it.
After I retired, I got bowel cancer. I was very sick after my first surgery. They [my doctors] found out that chemotherapy does dreadful things to my veins. I was on life support, had full blood transfusions, and was put into a coma for four days to stop me from bleeding out. Instead of being in hospital for four days, I was there for two and a half weeks.
It was terrifying. I have never been so scared. But God was with me throughout.
I had a bad reaction to some of the drugs they gave me. The drugs were making me have hallucinations, I was seeing and hearing all sorts of horrible things. The hallucinations got really bad, and I thought, “If this is my life now, I don’t want to live, I want to die.”
It was terrifying. I have never been so scared. But God was with me throughout. He kept sending me messages – through all the horror – that it was ok that he was there.
Some of the messages were things like my mum – who was a beautiful Christian lady who died nine years ago. She had dementia and popped up in one of these visions [hallucinations]. She never spoke, and she would reach out, take my hand, and pat my hand. I could feel it. I could swear that she was patting my hand.
In another hallucination, I was in a room with music playing, and it was all hymns. Unbelievably beautiful hymns, ones that I knew really well.
I slowly came out of it. I’ve emerged with more faith and reliance on God and more trust. I’m alive, and I’m healthy – I praise God every single day. It has changed my outlook on all sorts of things. My family has always been precious, but I think it made it more precious, and in a way, it was a wake-up call for all my family in that it’s drawn us a lot closer together.
As told to Salvos Online writer Lauren Martin