Seeing families lives changed together inspires Salvation Army social worker Sifa Spellman.
I began working as a support worker at a women’s refuge after spending a year living there with my four amazing children. While I was there I found God, and I really believe that he will never leave me or forsake me. I have always planned to work and support our whānau and give back to those in need due to my own journey.
Many doors of opportunity have opened and many have closed for me, and I understand that it is always in God’s good timing, not mine.
I went on and studied a social work degree at Te Wānanga O Aotearoa. This was a struggle for me due to my reading and writing skills—I had none, I thought, at the time. I completed my placement at The Salvation Army’s Royal Oak Community Ministries and then was offered a job.
I work with mums, dads and their children and with individuals in the community—mainly single parents and our working poor. And I love working with families!
All of my clients are also informed about our Transitional Housing Programme for our mums and dads. The programme teaches healthy living, cooking on a budget for a family, story time where the parents and children spend time together, and parenting classes.
I also encourage the young people to come along to our Aspire youth programme.
A lot of our families come in with complex needs: housing issues, substance abuse, debts. One of our girls who came to Aspire didn’t even speak at the start, she just blinked. Now she talks and volunteers with us.
Part of my journey within The Salvation Army is the relationship between Community Ministries and church. At Royal Oak we run a Messy Church—and oh, my gosh, where do I start with Messy Church?! It’s a church for families and the community. The only difference is that Messy Church is on a Tuesday night. It’s run by our Rod and Sue Ellis with a team of amazing leaders.
Although we only started last year we can get 200 people coming along on and we pack every corner of the room. Messy Church is about caring for people, transforming lives and reforming society into the Kingdom of God.
The church has a meal, covered by a gold coin donation—and that meal is just a blessing! Hearing the Word of God as it is shared on the night is life-changing for a lot of our families.
Each week we ask, ‘Who remembers last week’s memory verse?’ and it’s amazing to see all the hands go up—both children and adults. Most of these families have never read the Bible, let alone memorised a Bible verse. A discussion about the verse is held with people sharing their views about it around the dinner table.
The highlight for me last year was three of our beautiful ladies in our Temporary Housing Programme giving their lives to the Lord through attending Messy Church!
by Sifa Spellman(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 6 February 2016, pp 9.
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