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Recovery Church the 'gift' of a lifetime


Maureen and Brian found love, forgiveness and acceptance at The Salvation Army after walking into a Recovery Church service out of desperation after years of addiction.
Maureen and Brian found love, forgiveness and acceptance at The Salvation Army after walking into a Recovery Church service out of desperation after years of addiction.

BY NAOMI SINGLEHURST

Over the past few Christmases working on behalf of the Salvos, Maureen has lavishly shared the gift of hope. She has organised and helped pack hundreds of Christmas hampers, including 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 an administration assistant at Craigieburn Corps in Victoria and a member of the Salvos’ Moonee Valley Recovery Church, Maureen smiles as she remembers the night she and her husband Brian first came into contact with The Salvation Army.

At that stage, things were desperate in their life. Struggling with almost 30 years of addiction to cannabis and alcohol, Maureen – as well as Brian – had exhausted every avenue to get sober and recover.

Maureen’s 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,” she says. “Lunchtime on Fridays was a two-hour event at the pub with the work team. That’s kind of how it started. “I ended up meeting my husband Brian about 18 years ago. We were both in addiction and eventually buying huge amounts of marijuana.”

A life-changing experience

Maureen and Brian renewed their wedding vows at Recovery Church.
Maureen and Brian renewed their wedding vows at Recovery Church.

One night, when they attended a 12-step meeting, they saw a sign advertising an informal gathering, including a meal and conversation at the Salvos’ Moonee Valley Recovery Church. Maureen says sheer desperation drove them to attend – they had no interest in anything religious. The couple skipped dinner and arrived in time for the service, which was packed.

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 thinking, ‘He’s going to end up walking out as soon as it starts’, but we stayed for the whole service.

“Brian told me later that as soon as the singing started, he was captivated. ‘I’ve never been spiritual,’ he said, ‘but I feel more like that here than anywhere I have ever been.’”

Since attending that first night, the couple stopped using drugs and alcohol.

A new beginning

Not long after Maureen started attending Recovery Church, the local Salvos offered her an admin role, and she is now also a member of the ministry leadership team. After Brian became a Salvation Army member, he gained his Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs and supports those with drug and alcohol dependency.

“At Salvation Army Recovery Church, there is love and forgiveness,” Maureen says. “Whatever you have done, you are still part of God’s family – a child of God.”

Maureen and some of the hundreds of Christmas hampers she has packed.
Maureen and some of the hundreds of Christmas hampers she has packed.

While Maureen always tried to stay in touch with her family over Christmas, she says relations are now better and deeper. And 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.

“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 from debt and give them a meal and make it feel like Christmas, then we have made a difference. That makes me feel happier at Christmas time too.”


 

To get involved with The Salvation Army this year, to locate local events, or to find help, go to salvationarmy.org.au/christmas

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