Army dangers and sickness reinforced paratrooper’s faith decision
The thought of death prompted Craig Choveaux to re-examine himself in several life-threatening circumstances.
"When you go through times, when you come close to losing your life, it does prompt you to reflect on where you stand with God," Craig explains.
Having been conscripted into the army as a young man, Craig says he faced many dangerous situations but always felt God's protection over his life.
"I remember one time my parachute battalion was positioned as a stopper group for an airborne attack but the fuel for our choppers didn't arrive in time for the first mechanised assault so we were prevented from going in," Craig recalls.
"Later on I learned our forces, that had been sent in, had unexpectedly incurred numerous causalities. This was just one instance among others that I thanked God for bringing me safely through during that time of my life."
Craig did not grow up in a Christian family but became interested in finding out more about God when his elder brother committed his life to Jesus.
"I saw a radical change in my brother's life after he was impacted by a teacher at his primary school who had led him to the Lord," he says.
His brother became involved in Christian circles and attended a church youth group, which Craig says he became interested in.
"I saw the love of God displayed through the lives of people at this youth group and that made me want to be like them," he recalls.
At age 17 he went to hear a Christian evangelist and felt in his heart that he needed to respond to God's love by committing his life to Jesus.
"God's Word, the Bible, tells us simply that we just need to believe in our hearts that Jesus is God and ask Him to come into our lives through faith (see Romans 10:9-10), so that's what I went forward to do at the end of the message," Craig says.
"I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness of my sin and invite Jesus to take control of the direction of my life."
From that point on, Craig can attest that life was not "smooth sailing" after this point as he was soon to face the harsh army life and several other challenges.
"There have been times like a roller-coaster when I have been up and down but through it all I have known that God is with me and I have seen His presence revealed in so many personal ways," he explains.
"He has answered so many of my prayers, blessed me with a beautiful family and his hand has always protected and kept me safe.
"I know being a Christian is not all about blessing but when times are rough I know that I just have to look to the Lord."
In 2012 Craig suddenly found himself partially paralysed, unable to even speak properly and lay in the hospital bed for over a week with no explanation for a cause.
During this time Craig says people that he knew from all over the world gathered together to pray for him when they found out that he had Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare auto-immune disease.
"Again, it was amazing to see the love shown from God's people who prayed for me and helped my family with everything from mowing the lawn, to ironing, bringing meals and even planting flowers in the garden."
"I strongly believe God intervened to heal me and helped me recover quickly from this illness, which often leaves devastating side-effects."
Throughout hardships Craig says he has felt comfort from one of his favourite verse, Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11 which says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"
"It was particularly through those times in my life when I recommitted my life to God, knowing that I have fallen short of His perfect standard many times but grateful for His mercy toward me," Craig says.
"I feel close to God when I spend time reading the Bible and praying to Him and I know that if I continue to commit all my ways to God, I do not have to worry about what the future holds."