Marika hears God's voice through the pain
Marika hears God's voice through the pain
1 February 2018
When Marika Wallis watched her brother Dominic and his wife get commissioned as Salvation Army officers in 2012, she thought to herself, “that’s nice but it’s not for me”. This week, she will begin her cadet training at The Salvation Army’s Eva Burrows College School for Officer Training. She told her story to Others Online writer Lauren Martin.
I grew up in a Salvation Army family. My dad ran a couple of family stores and my mum did welfare for a while. When I was about 18 or 19 I left home and just went my own way. Nothing bad or anything, just life. I found the man of my dreams and got married to him.
What happened from there, well everything spiralled. We couldn’t fall pregnant so it was a very hard time. Then what happened was I did get pregnant but my son was born with club feet, (turned in feet) so he had to have multiple surgeries, boots, bars, orthodics, all that sort of stuff. During that time, I also fell pregnant with twins.
Before I knew it, I was seeing a specialist because one of the twins had not developed any esophagus, stomach and there was a heart problem. Due to medical reasons and my life being in danger due to the pregnancy, my child’s life was terminated.
On 2 June 2010, I met my daughter who had survived against all the odds and my son who lay in my palm of my hand. Next minute my daughter had stopped breathing. Doctors and nurses came from everywhere and cared for her. I heard them say, “Where is the mother?” I had turned my face away and I remember saying to God, “How much more do you think I can take?”
Thankfully, my daughter survived.
A few months later, after much searching and praying, I left my marriage because it was a very unhealthy marriage. My son was two and my daughter was just four months old. I walked away from a brand-new house, the whole lot.
I moved to Inverell in northern NSW. I had no money. It was tough. I had to rent a house, I had to go to Centrelink and admit that I had no money, which is horrible in itself. I also got welfare assistance from the local Salvos. I had no choice, I had to feed the kids. It’s hard to ask for help and those experiences change you forever. It was almost like God was setting me up for what was coming next.
One day my corps officer, Captain Chris Millard, said, “Hey Marika, you would be a good welfare worker. Do you want to do some work for me?” My immediate reaction was, “No!”. I was quite content where I was at. I didn’t need to work for The Salvation Army. But he persuaded me and I did some welfare work. I discovered I could do it and that I enjoyed it.
Next thing I get a phone call from Divisional Headquarters asking me to be a NILS worker. I found that I really loved it. I loved empowering people and helping people in the community. Next thing, Divisional Headquarters was calling again, this time about training to be a Moneycare Financial Counsellor. Again, my initial reaction was, “No”. I felt that I was not cut out to be a financial counsellor. But I did the training and I got offered a job in Tamworth.
I couldn’t take the job because at that stage my four-year-old son had just been diagnosed with dislocated knee caps. The doctor said to me at the time when my son was diagnosed, “Well, I know what the problem is, I just don’t know what part of his legs to break first in order to fix him.” It was devastating.
The Salvation Army said, “We’ll keep your job open for a month for you to sort out the medical stuff with your son”, and literally almost a month to the day, the hospital in Sydney had worked out a medical plan and I was able to take the job in Tamworth. Another God moment.
For the next four-and-half years, I worked as a Moneycare Financial Counsellor, travelling all over north and north-west NSW, seeing clients from all walks of life, helping them with their financial difficulties. I was teaching them the same kinds of things that I learned during those hard years when I had nothing and was budgeting on the smell of an oily rag.
At the same time, I made endless trips to Sydney Children’s Hospital, watching and caring for my son as he went through numerous operations, leg-casts, wheelchairs, physiotherapy, orthodics and lots of follow-up appointments with the specialist.
Through all my experiences, I sensed a pull back into The Salvation Army and, over the past few years, a gradual pull towards ministry.
The past 12 months of working as a Moneycare Financial Counsellor, I became extremely unsettled, I could not put my finger on it. A cloud of fear had developed. I felt like I was sick but could not work out what was causing it or what to do about it. It was a dark time.
I went to a women’s retreat out at Moree called “Streams in the Desert”. One of the ladies from my corps said to me at the end of one of the sessions, “You’re special, have you ever thought about fulltime ministry?” And the way she said it, I knew God was calling me to something. I just knew. I had a sense.
I applied for a Doorways position, thinking that was what God was calling me to, but when I got the job I was even more frustrated because I realised that wasn’t it. It was then that my corps officer at the time said, ‘Maybe you need to apply for officership?’
Since making the decision, everything has just fallen into place.
In 2012, I was given my first opportunity to preach by Majors Helen and Peter Pearson. I preached on hearing God’s voice.
I have heard his voice. Now I am here. It is an absolute privilege to be accepted as a candidate.