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Hope Chapel helped me look past the pain

Hope Chapel helped me look past the pain

Hope Chapel helped me look past the pain

Mary's life changed when she walked into a Wednesday night Hope Chapel meeting at Sydney Congress Hall.

By Lauren Martin

In 2004, Mary’s American husband was killed in Iraq. Two years later her daughter died, and Mary’s life crumbled. A downward spiral of drugs and sleeping rough was her existence over the next 10 years, until one evening she stumbled into a Salvation Army Hope Chapel meeting at Sydney Congress Hall. Here, she tells her story in her own words.

When you lose your family, like I’ve lost mine, you can easily blame God. For many years I thought that God had punished me. I once had a faith, but now I had nothing. I had no faith left. I walked away because I lost my family. I admit it, I walked away. I thought, “If you [God] can do this to me then you’re not what you say you are and I want no part of it.”

I was using [drugs] way too much and getting way too skinny, looking like I was going to die. And then I sat in the park one night and I cried so hard. And all I could think of was, “What would my husband tell me to do if he knew about this?” – and then I hear this inner voice go, “He’d tell you to go for it, Mary, he’d tell you that he believed in you.” That inner voice was God. It was God.

I remember vaguely somebody giving me a pamphlet for a Wednesday night dinner at the Salvos. Well, I ignored it for months and months and months, but then one Wednesday I thought, “I know, I’ll go to the Salvos for dinner.” That’s where it all began.

So, I walked into Hope Chapel. I sat there and told those people that I was lonely and alone. I was off my face on drugs, but I got up and admitted it! I don’t know what Major Bruce [Harmer] thought of that ... but it’s funny when I look back on it!

What I found at Hope Chapel was acceptance, and it drew me back each week. I slowly got to know some of the people doing the Bridge Program [The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program for Recovery] and they would say to me, “Mary, you should come and do the Bridge Program” and I’m thinking, “Yeah right, me in a rehab, as if I like the idea of that!” But here I am.

The main drug I was using was ice. I was using heaps of it every single day. And I went from heaps of it to nothing. To nothing, absolutely nothing.

I’ve got all these other things to think about now. I’ve got a whole life to put in order. God ... he never left. But I couldn’t see that. I couldn’t see past the pain. But look at me now! You know what? That chapel [Hope Chapel] is my favourite place in the whole world – because it’s where I come together with my God. It’s a place where I can say what I like to him and nobody will stop me!

I believe God is taking me on a journey to becoming a strong and honourable woman, the one that he predestined for me before the foundations of this world were made. My husband was killed in Iraq. So, I would like to go to that region. This is my dream: I would like to take the gospel of Jesus Christ and I would like to go and live in somewhere like Afghanistan for a little while. My ultimate dream would be to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into a country that suffers.

Footnote: Mary is a participant in The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program at William Booth House in Sydney. Please pray for her as she continues her journey of recovery with Jesus.


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