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'Hope is like oxygen for the soul'

'Hope is like oxygen for the soul'

'Hope is like oxygen for the soul'

19 July 2021

Captain Brad Whittle works with people experiencing drug and alcohol addiction at The Salvation Army Townsville Recovery Services centre in Queensland.

Captain Brad Whittle manages The Salvation Army Townsville Recovery Services in Queensland. He talks about his role, how God led him there, and how he sees Jesus moving in his ministry space.


Our service focuses on people who have alcohol and other drug issues. It’s holistic in many ways. We want people to learn how to live again – to invest in their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and their relational wellbeing.

Living our mission

Interestingly, I am back here at Townsville Recovery Services because, all those years ago, post-university, I was working in a government role and really just seeking to find direction and what God’s will was and where he wanted me. Within a week or two, I was invited to come and interview as a case worker here, back when it was in the city. The offer was completely left-field for me; it wasn’t really on my radar, and I didn’t have much experience with recovery, but I accepted the role as an opportunity that was God-given.

So, I was here as a case-work team leader for about 10 years and then went away to be trained as a Salvation Army officer and have had experience in different spaces, in Mt Isa, most recently. Now, 20-odd years later, I’m back as a Salvation Army officer and manager.

Nobody sets out to become addicted. It’s about breaking down stigma – to be more gracious and understanding and to realise that everyone has a story. Even people who have done some negative things – there’s stuff behind that.

It’s not just about the need but people’s readiness for change, often precipitated by crisis and pain. There are different levels of trauma, people managing anxiety-related disorders or depression, conflict, social isolation, legal issues.

Hope is like oxygen to the soul. When you see people come and reach out for help, they really are starved of hope. They’re desperate, and they’re just looking for a way out from where they are.

As they engage with the supports that we provide here, social isolation reduces and there’s decreased levels of anxiety and depression. Their capacity to make better choices and their relational worldview is changed over time as well.

It is overwhelming to see people’s courage, resilience and perseverance. They don’t always see that in themselves. So often, people are laden with guilt and shame. As they begin to experience hope in the present and the future, they start to reframe how they feel about themselves and really build into their God-given potential.

It’s humbling to be part of people’s journey every day as they discover this hope that comes from God. This hope enables them to breathe again and stand and walk in the new life that Jesus brings. This hope that’s built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.



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