Indigenous Youth worker Allen Minniecon shares his story of transformation
I grew up in the bush in a very happy home. We weren't Christians, but I remember the Bible sitting on the old Singer sewing machine.
I went to school, an hour or two on the bus, then would come home and go down to the creek for a swim and carry water home. It was a great life.
But I had very low self-esteem, no confidence at all. I missed school when we had to do a presentation or speak, because I just couldn't do it. When we had visitors I would hide.
We moved to a small town that was closer to my high school. I wanted to go to the school discos but I couldn't go sober. I started to drink, which seemed to give me courage.
Under-age and not handling school, I started to work. As an Indigenous Australian the thought of being unemployed was the worst thing in my mind. I couldn't bear being a dole bludger so I worked hard.
Drugs became part of my lifestyle after I left home – I thought it was normal in that environment.
I met my partner Sue, had a child, and got married in 1985. I was still doing drugs, but in that same year I started getting a real sense of inner calling.
I can't really explain it. I said to Sue, "I think I have to go to church," and she just laughed.
I went to church on my own and heard a man preach. At the end he asked people to come forward for prayer. I don't know why, but I went forward, still drunk and on drugs from the night before. A group of people prayed with me.
I have never cried so much in my life – I cried for four or five hours.
When I stopped crying I felt light, like everything around me was so different.
It was a real God transformation.
From that day, all my addictions just went away. I didn't do anything – they just went. I started to read the Bible over and over and over again.
We'd been married for 19 years when Sue died of leukemia.
I became suicidal and angry with God. I was in this black hole of depression and anger. But I had three children to love and support.
I let go of God, but God didn't let go of me. I sat on the edge of my bed and decided to turn my life completely back to God (rather than take it and live for myself) and to make a difference in the lives of others.
Some time later I met Jen and fell in love with her. I had never thought of marrying a non-Indigenous lady and it hasn't always been easy, but we love each other deeply.
Together we ran two churches and spent three years in the remote outback as Indigenous youth workers. In my work I help the homeless, at-risk youth, and others whose lives have taken a turn for the worse.
I never forget that I was once lost until Jesus found me and set me free.?
This article first published in Warcry magazine