Jason Tereva, or JT as he’s known, turns 50 this year. Having spent most of his life in various institutions, JT is now in his own home—clean and sober, loving life and giving God all the credit!
If God didn’t put this church and the people of Wellington South in my life, I don’t think I’d be sitting here now.
I was born and raised in Papakura, South Auckland. I went into foster care in my early teens because I was stealing and breaking into cars. Mum and Dad couldn’t handle me coming home in cop cars, but there was a lot of trouble at home too. In the foster home, I felt surrounded by people who cared—not like my parents, who later divorced.
I got involved with ACSK (Auckland City Street Kids) and that was when things went off track. I ended up in boys’ homes—first in West Auckland and then Levin. I also spent time in mental health institutions and prison.
Then, in 2016, I self-referred to the Bridge Programme. I’d hit rock bottom, and the Bridge gave me an opportunity and the tools that I needed.
But then I had a big relapse. I was thinking, JT you’ve done so well, a few beers aren’t going to kill you. You can control your alcohol intake. Before I knew it, I was back into full-blown drinking.
One day I threatened a shop-keeper because he wouldn’t give me what I wanted. The cops came, and when I came around, I couldn’t remember what I’d done. So that’s when I got hold of Major Keith Tyson at the Sallies. I told him I’d had a bad relapse and was in jail, and that I’d done something really dumb.
I did the Bridge programme again last year and graduated. I’ve been sober for six months now, and I’m in my own place for the first time. Praise God for that!
I was playing in the Recovery Church band when I had a spiritual awakening. God showed me the Scripture about how you can’t serve two masters. You can’t serve God and money, so you can’t serve God and drugs either. I knew I had to serve one and say good-bye to the other. So, I chose God, and I haven’t looked back since.
Even though I’ve had troubles, Jesus is always with me. I love him and I’m serving him, and Jesus has given me a heart to help people and my community. My life used to be all about me and nobody else. I didn’t care about the people I hurt. But God has changed that.
I enjoy coming to The Salvation Army centre in Newtown every day to volunteer. It gives me a sense of purpose. I help in the foodbank and along with three other guys do the gardens and help keep God’s house looking beautiful. We also help with the local community garden and tidy some of the Community Ministries clients’ gardens and homes. And we help people at church, especially those who are older or whose husbands have passed away and need a bit of extra help.
I never thought I’d give money to a homeless person or take him in and give him a couch and blanket and wash his clothes, but I have. I just know God wants me to be a servant to the people and share the good news about his son, Jesus Christ.
And that’s all I want to do—bring people to God before their time is up.