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My life is a testament to God's work

My life is a testament to God's work

My life is a testament to God's work

Bill Manns found love and forgiveness in Jesus after attending a youth camp. Photo: Shairon Paterson

By Bill Manns

I was born in Australia and spent my early years in southern NSW. My parents divorced when I was eight, and my younger brother and I went with mum.

She did a tremendous job raising two boys on her own. We moved around a lot, eventually settling in Sydney’s west.

I was 15 and struggling with who was I and what my life was all about. My mental health was suffering. Then, one school holidays, my brother went to a Salvation Army “Max” camp.

When he came home, he wouldn’t stop talking about God; he’d say “God is here and God is great”. I was like, “We’ve tried God before, in the Catholic school we went to. If God is so great, why are our lives so bad right now? The God thing doesn’t work”.

My dad called me on my 16th birthday – the first time in eight years he’d made any contact. He was drunk and told me I wasn’t his son, that I was an accident, a waste of space and that there was no hope or future for me. To me, they felt like “words of death”.

Later that night, I read Jeremiah 29:11. These words of life contrasted so completely with what my dad had said to me. I was like, “I should check this God guy out”.

A few months later, I attended The Salvation Army’s divisional youth “Discovery” camp. One night we had a Bible message on John 10:10. I felt so defeated. What was the point of all this? Did God really have a plan and purpose for my life; was there hope and a future? Really?

I decided it was time to go a little deeper with this God stuff and try to find out who God really is. Alone in my room, I told God that I didn’t know who he was and, if he was real, he would need to show himself to me.

At that moment, my mobile phone went off. There was no call, no email, no alarm, no text. That was weird, I thought. My phone was on top of my Bible, so I guessed that God might want me to read it. I told God again that this was his one moment to save me. He had to show me that he was there. I closed my eyes and flipped open the Bible. My eyes fell on Mark 11:22: “Have faith in God.” This was a transforming moment. I felt that God was intimately revealing himself to me as I called out to him. I felt that, now, I had to make the call. It was time to jump right in. It was the best feeling ever.

I knew I needed to start following Jesus, I needed this relationship with God and to have my life turned upside down. It was the moment I found faith. From there, with the support of the officers from the local Salvation Army Chifley Mission in Sydney, my relationship with God went from strength to strength.

I was determined to follow God and serve my Saviour Jesus, no matter what it might look like or cost. I found a message of love and forgiveness in Jesus, and I now wanted to share that message at every opportunity. I now work part-time as a youth and children’s worker at Chifley Mission and I’m studying for an Advanced Diploma in Ministry.

The Salvation Army has invested in me and helped me encounter God through its camps and holiday programs. Jesus used that to flip my life around and I want to do the same for others. My story is a testament to how God works.


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