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Warcry: Defining success

Warcry 21 January 2014Brian Peters is taking control of his destiny and partnering with God.

My childhood was challenging. Born in Melbourne, my family moved to the country in search of a better life when I was about four. Unfortunately this made things like employment a greater challenge for my parents—living in a town of less than 100 people they were unemployed for most of my childhood. 

Living in a household suffering from poverty presented its challenges. It caused tension and resulted in domestic violence, increasing in frequency and intensity, until I left home at 12 years old and was awarded to Human Services care.

I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home, my parents never attended church and although my parents had given me a Bible when I was young, none of my siblings had received one. 

During some of the darkest days where the violence at home was at its greatest I would pray to God to stop the violence. 

My parents recognised my natural ability to learn, part of the reason I was given the Bible, and had me reading books to help me get ahead. They wanted me to get a university education. Wanting to become a lawyer, I choose to read law books. It was in these books I discovered the answer to my prayers, I didn’t have to tolerate the violence I was experiencing and I could leave home.

When I turned 15, I was awarded my own custody by the courts. I had stayed with over 30 diverse families during this time and the quality of these placements varied. Many were doing it for the right reasons, some were not, and I would have been better off living at home. 

The Children’s Court had ordered me to attend camps and commence youth group during my time in state care. Sure we had discussed it, and decided on The Salvation Army, but it never happened. Not yet a man, but deprived of my childhood for many years now I chose to follow the advice of the judge and go to The Salvation Army youth group anyway.

That first week we recorded a drama on camera which would be shown at Sunday night church. I wanted to see it so I went along, and continued to go every week. 

Over time the church members became my family—something that I had been missing for a very long time. One lady invited me over once a week for a meal, included me in her Christmas lunch festivities and even took me away when she went on holiday. For me God’s love for me was real and being lived out in everything that was done for me through the community of the Bendigo Corps.

All was going well until one Sunday when I became afraid after hearing a fire/brimstone guest preacher speak. I spoke to our youth pastor during the week about it and then and there I gave my life to God. We prayed together and during the prayer I felt the Holy Spirit physically enter my body and had a tingling experience everywhere. 

Over the years I’ve worked in a variety of areas and eventually completed a Bachelor of Computing which began a career as a software engineer. 

I had broken free of the multi-generational poverty and unemployment. If I wanted to measure success, everything I had ever thought that mattered was achieved. But God had a different plan. 
I had been volunteering as a youth worker for some time at both Bendigo and Eaglehawk Salvos. Over time I realised that God needed more from me. Anyone could do the jobs I had been doing. They didn’t need a relationship with God to successfully do these roles. I felt God call me to give my life as an officer (full-time minister) in The Salvation Army. 

Having completed training college, I was commissioned last December as a Salvation Army officer and commence full time work, partnering with God at Swan Hill Salvo church this month.