Erin and Lee are the volunteer caretakers of Christ Mission Possible’s emergency accommodation, The Sanctuary, on the south coast of NSW. This is Erin’s story of how God brought them home to His family.
Lee and I met in 2004. What followed was years of alcoholism, court appearances – and for me, many hospital visits due to alcohol induced pancreatitis. Our life had gone down a really bad path. As a result, in 2007 after a short stay in prison, Lee was ordered by the courts to attend a residential rehab and I followed. Alcohol was literally killing me.
After six and a half months and a lot of Alcoholics Anonymous we decided to leave rehab. We thought we were “cured”. We were wrong.
In October 2010 Lee and I were living in a caravan park and once again heading towards alcoholism. We moved in with my mother who was very sick, and we cared for her as much as we could. Within six weeks of moving into her home, my mother died.
After months of moving from rented room to rented room, Lee and I were physically and emotionally exhausted. We had lost everything that we owned except for the few bags of clothes we could carry. We went to the Department of Housing to ask for help.
They sent us to a place called The Farm, run by Christ Mission Possible. As soon as we got there we felt there was something special about the place. A guy called Matt met us at the door, a no-nonsense kind of guy who would bite your head off if you messed with him. But we soon discovered he had a heart of gold. He handed us our key. When we saw our room we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be there.
We’d been at The Farm for two weeks when we were told the Department of Housing had found more permanent accommodation for us in a house directly across the road from where my mother had lived. We didn’t want to leave The Farm and the area we were going to was full of drugs and alcohol.
But Matt came to our rescue. He said he didn’t want us to go, made a phone call, and came and sat in our room. He laughed and said, “God is a good God”.
He offered us the opportunity to go to a place called The Bounty; he wanted us to stay under the guidance of Christ Mission Possible. The Bounty was in Nowra. To us, that was the middle of nowhere and we were apprehensive. But we trusted Matt. He had something about him we hadn’t seen before. We know now that was God.
We got to The Bounty and met even more people just like Matt. They were really nice, happy, kind. We were intrigued–what made these people so kind to people they didn’t even know?
That first Sunday, we went to church. Matt had asked to give it a go. We were sceptical. Religion was a no-go subject for Lee and I. We weren’t interested, but we went anyway–for Matt. But we agreed we were not going to become Christians.
Within five minutes at the church service, I was so overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people and the singing that I ran out of the church crying. But by the end, we were amazed. I went back that night to the evening service: I wanted that feeling again.
Lee and I broke our agreement and went to church the next week and every Sunday after that. We know now that we were becoming Christians. In some ways there were no surprises in what we heard. But seeing how the people we met lived what the Bible teaches was amazing. Their love and care for strangers–genuine, with no ulterior motives–comes from God.
We were becoming restless at The Bounty, thinking about going back to Sydney. We were approached by CMP to become the Caretakers of its emergency accommodation, The Sanctuary. It was an opportunity to give back to God, and to the organisation and people who had given us so much.
At the same time, Lee and I got baptised, and we got married. Our church offered us everything we needed for the wedding, and it was everything we could have dreamed of.
Our entire lives are different now that we are Christians. We know that if we put our faith and hope and trust in God everything will be ok. The change so dramatic, it affects all our relationship and our personalities. God has been teaching me lately about love and patience, and about how to love those who are unlovable.
God has placed some of the most amazing people in our path and a church that has blessed us more than we could ever imagine. Without God and Christ Mission Possible, and the people he used to help us – God only knows where we’d be today.
Header image: Flickr_Max_au