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A life filled with God’s humour and grace

A life filled with God’s humour and grace

A life filled with God’s humour and grace

15 August 2018

The Salvation Army was a safe haven during Heather Hornerman's childhood struggles.

As told to Naomi Singlehurst

After working in Salvos welfare, raising her four children and five long-term foster kids (plus 30 shorter term) Salvation Army soldier Heather Horneman finally retired. But it wasn’t long before before God gave Heather, supported by husband David (both now in their 70s), a corps and family store to run.

I didn’t come from a Christian background. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was terribly, terribly shy. She had no friends in Australia whatsoever (we came from Scotland). Home wasn’t so safe, it was very chaotic, so I would slip across the road to The Salvation Army because that for me was a lovely safe place.

One of the leaders had contracted polio as a child and he was on calipers and yet he was just such a beautiful man. I saw something special in him and wanted to be like him. So, just before my ninth birthday I accepted Jesus as my saviour. While we lived there I continued to follow and grow in the Lord. But just before my 12th birthday we moved interstate.

There was no immediate Salvation Army and I didn’t go to church or Sunday school. That was a very dark time for me, with abuse and rebellion.

I married at 15 and had my first child at 16. David and I have just celebrated our 56th wedding anniversary. Lots happened in my early married life and then came a turning point at the age of 32. God had often reminded me of my promise to him, until I came back to the Lord.

I am quite sure God has a real sense of humour.

We tried buying a house in other areas, but could only get a house in Temora (NSW). Our youngest child said, “I’d like to go to Sunday school”, and I shrugged it off. Then one day we drove into Temora; it was Easter and there was no parking.

Finally, I found a parking space, but it was right out in front where the bandmaster of Temora Corps was giving out copies of the WarCry in the street. He said to me, “You should come to church”. Then I went down to the local hotel with other family members in the beer garden part and, what do you know, in came a whole lot of Salvos doing pub ministry.

I thought I’d pop off to the ladies’ toilets to hide and there was a lady there washing her hands –and she just happened to be a Salvo. God had me cornered, they were everywhere!

Finally, I gave in and went to the corps with my daughter and it felt just like coming home. Within six weeks I was down at the mercy seat and I just gave God all the garbage of my life. I still couldn’t believe he could possibly forgive all the things I’d done. I’d done so much in my past I was ashamed of – so very much. I remain constantly amazed at God’s grace.

Then one day, in my kitchen, I was just overcome by the Holy Spirit. I finally understood just how much love he had for me. I was kneeling on the floor in the kitchen and had such a feeling of absolute confidence that God would take me just as I was and he would make me into the person he wanted me to be. From then on, I was absolutely certain God had a plan, but I didn’t have to know it (because I like to know plans and details) – I just had to be willing to obey.

We did lots of little works for him; I spent 15 years as welfare worker in Shoalhaven Corps on the NSW South Coast.

God is so good and I’ve been blessed to see two brothers and a sister come to the Lord, my children, my grandchildren and my long-term foster children (who are every bit as much our children).

Six years ago we retired and we moved to the country and we were going to live in our little cottage and sit on the verandah with our rocking chairs and volunteer maybe once a week at the Salvos. But God had other ideas – I became a welfare worker in Young, and David helped set up the Family Store.

One day we went for a drive and ended up in Grenfell, somehow sitting in front of The Salvation Army church – and both started crying our eyes out. We knew somehow it was where God was calling us, so we “laid out a fleece” and, of course, with typical humour God met us in every direction we tried to shrug off as imagination.

So now, for over five years, we have been running the Grenfell Corps and Family Store. My husband became a soldier in The Salvation Army and a leader. We have been so blessed to see a number of people flourish and grow so much in the Lord.

This is a proud farming community and people are very reticent to tell you they are struggling, so it is often a matter of just popping up with a hamper and some little thing for the kids. We just say, “Oh we thought we’d just pop this around. We see how hard you are working” – that kind of thing.

We have a community lunch on a Wednesdays and we are getting new people coming just for a meal and to talk.

Looking back over my life, I would say to people, “You think you are doing OK until you meet God, and then you know how much you weren’t doing OK”. Honestly, God just changed my life in such an amazing way. When you meet him, your life changes for forever!


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