Narissa Anderson says God opened doors that provided amazing opportunities.
I grew up on the Sunshine Coast (Qld) and originally came into contact with The Salvation Army in 2002 when I was six years old. I began attending Sunbeams at Maroochydore which is similar to Brownies.
Both of my parents had never been involved with church before, but after a short time my mother, sister and I began attending Sunday services and youth activities. Over time, and particularly when life became tough, I found myself relying on my faith in Jesus to keep me strong.
In 2004, my father passed away unexpectedly, marking the beginning of many tough times for our family. During this time our church gave us overwhelming love and support and, as I look back, I can see how God had a guiding hand over our lives.
After my father’s death, my mother became ill and unable to care for my sister and me. We were consequently sent to separate foster care homes. My sunbeam leader and a family friend from church took me in. I was raised with a Christian influence that helped shape my faith. I remember many times as early as my later years of primary school where I relied heavily on my relationship with Jesus to keep me going.
These were times when I struggled with school, with my mother’s health and being a Christian. While I struggled with these issues I loved two things going - to church and singing. My church had become a solid foundation for everything in my life, becoming my second home and family, and music became my outlet.
During high school my involvement with music grew. I had singing lessons, learned the violin and was a part of my church’s contemporary music team. As high school challenged my beliefs, I begun to drift from God until music remained my only link.
In 2011, I decided to take a break from my church. I went through a period where I was struggling to understand the purpose of my life and what I wanted to do - as well as what God wanted me to do.
Reflecting back, I still had my faith in God, however I needed time to question and understand his love for me. This time taught me that God never leaves you and never stops loving you.
In August of that year I made the decision to leave my long-term foster placement. This was one of the most difficult times for me and I turned to God for support. This decision put me on the path I walk now.
Over the next two years I moved three times, each in different areas of the Sunshine Coast and with very different people. Through this time I began to develop my own individual relationship with God and to become comfortable in talking and confiding in him.
While I was completing my final years of high school I began to explore what I wanted to do after I graduated. While I was convinced sometimes I had found what I wanted to do, I found that God often was there to open new doors that provided amazing opportunities.
With my background I was convinced that whatever I chose would involve helping people. In 2013, I was accepted for a dual degree of social work and criminology at a university in Brisbane. For years I had been interested in helping fight against human trafficking, but I did not know how to begin.
Despite struggling through my earlier years of school and all the disruptions through my final years, I moved to Brisbane in 2014. My first semester was hard, but once again God blessed me with more family.
I started attending North Brisbane Salvation Army in March and the love and support from my Salvo church has helped me to continue towards my goal of helping victims of human trafficking.
God has opened so many doors in my life and despite hardship, he has remained with me and I remain with him.