My name is John. I am 36 years of age and live in a block of council fl ats just down the road from the Hornby Community Ministries Centre in Christchurch.
My association with The Salvation Army goes way back to 1978. I was born at Bethany House, a home for young mothers that was run by the Sallies and located in Papanui.
The following year, in 1979, my parents and I went to Dunedin because of my dad’s job. We lived in Oxford Street, which was right behind Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every pay day, Dad would bring home KFC for dinner, so I developed a real love for potatoes and gravy from an early age!
After six months, we returned to Christchurch. I really wished I had stayed in Dunedin but I was only a toddler, so had no choice but to come back. My family moved around a lot, so I went to several different schools. I left school at 16 to take up a job collecting trolleys at a supermarket. I lasted in the job for two years, but then I had a mental breakdown and resigned.
I started attending church at The Salvation Army Hornby Corps in 1999, when it was an old wooden building. But after several months Hornby closed and so I started attending church with the Sallies in Spreydon for another year. Sadly, that closed as well. I gave my life to Jesus at a men’s conference in the year 2000. Over the next 10 years or so I attended churches outside the Salvation Army fold, but I didn’t really feel that I fitted in because the congregations were too large and impersonal. I felt like an outsider.
The biggest turning point in my life occurred in 2007, when I got my own place to live. I applied for a council fl at and was put on a waiting list. One day, when I was praying for a flat, I got a phone call from the Council telling me a unit was available in Hei Hei. I went round to check it out and decided, ‘Yes, this is just right—it’s exactly what I need!’
It was an absolute miracle that the Lord so quickly answered my prayer. I was like, ‘Hallelujah, it was just incredible. Seven years on, I am thoroughly enjoying living in the same unit. I will continue living there till the day I die … unless God has other plans. And now that The Salvation Army is back in Hornby, I’ve found a church where I feel I belong again. To this day, I still struggle with mental illness. However, I take comfort from these timeless words of wisdom God spoke to me through 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT), ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.’ I thank God for giving me his grace and power.
By John Maxwell