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The tools for freedom

Darrell Rurawhe

After 25 years of addiction, Darrell Rurawhe got the life tools he needed from The Salvation Army.

When I was 25, I was assaulted and raped while walking to work. They didn’t know much about helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those days, so alcohol became my response. By the time I got a better understanding, I was already in the grip of addiction and couldn’t break the cycle.

I grew up at Rātana Pā. My greatgrandmother was the sister of the church’s founder, so I was raised a Christian. But with the addiction came all the negative stuff . I had a reputation to keep up and if people found out I was Christian, that wouldn’t work. So I slowly moved away from God.

I got caught for a lot of DUIs (driving under the influence), which landed me in jail. And GBHs (grevious bodily harm)—always fuelled by alcohol. I was looking at another jail stint, but was given the chance to come to The Salvation Army Bridge for help.

I embraced the Bridge programme, and the Bridge programme embraced me. They gave me a wonderful opportunity and I seized it. I learnt to look back on my life and learn from it. I learnt to be a normal person who didn’t have to lie, cheat and steal.

I had to admit to myself I wasn’t a nice person, that I’d done some really stupid stuff . When I was in jail, I was always in denial (I’d say, ‘They got the wrong man!’), but the Bridge helped me take ownership of what I had done to so many people. If I don’t own it, I can’t move on … and then I start the whole cycle again. Once I started to admit I’d done all these things, it lifted a weight off my shoulders.

I learnt to accept praise rather than just shrug it off . So now I accept it when people tell me good things about myself. I say, ‘Thank you!’, because I’ve worked hard at it. It’s not really a male thing to say, ‘I love myself,’ but the Bridge taught me I can be proud of who I am and that I am not this horrible person anymore. And I try to share love with others.

I found my faith again at the Bridge. The chaplain gave me a Bible and I read it from cover to cover. We’d talk about the Bible and how the day had been —and that was really good.

One day as I was reading the Bible, this epiphany came: ‘I’m lonely!’ I realised even though I had mates I was drinking and drugging with, I was still lonely.

That’s when my mum had the intuition to phone and ask what was happening. I told her and she said, ‘That’s God talking to you!’ She’d always told me God was with me. And on reflection, she was right.

It was The Salvation Army that got me on track, back to my church, and back to believing that God does love me and will continue to love me.

Two years on, I’m back living at Rātana, studying social work and doing work placement in the public health sector. I came to the Bridge as a weak kauri tree sapling, and received sunlight as I was taught to reach out to God again. A kauri tree takes years to grow—and my Christian faith allows me to grow and to reach out higher and higher. To others trapped by addiction, I say, never give up. Be strong in yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people who want to get better. And if that means going to the Bridge, do it!

By Darrell Rurawhe (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 12 November 2016, pp 11
You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.

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