In a family overshadowed by poverty and alcoholism, Ian Hopkins traded jealousy and empty pursuits for a fulfilling inner peace.
"We were really poor," Ian recalls. "My father was an alcoholic and my mother worked hard to keep the family together."
As a child he was influenced to believe religion was a joke and believed it could not resolve his family's problems.
Despite this, he remembers fun times on Boy Scout camps in Western Australia's wilderness, and on these camps he was also exposed to Christian church services on Sundays.
"One Sunday church service in Glen Forrest I had a feeling that there was something else out there, but I didn't take it any further," he recalls.
Ian wanted success and the admiration of others but it always seemed others had a better home life, more money, intelligence and sporting talent than himself.
His jealousy caused him to drink alcohol excessively and pursue sexual relationships, thinking he was having "a good time".
But when he was honest with himself, he says, "I was lost and lonely."
Since he was dating a girl who attended church, Ian admits he went to church and was baptised just to impress her.
Sisters Sandy and Jilly then invited Ian to a church where he recalls the gentle words from Pastor Peter Moyle impressed him.
Shown verses in the Bible about God's offer of forgiveness and his own selfishness in God's sight, Ian recalls; "In my early 30's, during a visit from Peter, I decided to become a Christian and I felt a complete and overwhelming inner peace."
Through receiving God's gift of forgiveness by faith in Jesus, Ian says, "I felt happiness that I never had before because I knew I had a relationship with God in heaven."
This peace with God was not merely kept to himself, though, as Ian explains how God removed his jealousy, envy and anger towards others, as well as his desire for alcohol or sexual immorality.
"I forgave my father for not being there when I was growing up. Since his passing just over 10 years ago I still miss him. He is the only member of my family who ever had a positive attitude about my Christian beliefs."
While he reflects sadly on the breakup of his marriage some years ago, the 52-year-old adds, "I have found at different stages of my life that God shows me relevant Bible passages to help me."
To those curious about knowing God, Ian says, "Open your eyes and heart and let the Lord Jesus in. He will always be there for you. He is the rock, the cornerstone of the world. He will always protect you."•