At first glance, Greg was a regular guy – polite, educated, neatly dressed and hard working. Greg had a good life, and as a young man, his future looked very bright. But without warning, things changed.
Challenges in the economy left Greg unemployed, and with no close family to whom to turn, Greg found himself sliding deeper into debt and despair. In a short space of time, Greg lost everything for which he had worked so hard, as well as his worldly friends. Feeling hurt and rejected, with no answers and no solutions, Greg ended up at The Ark shelter.
Set amidst rolling green hills in Peacevale, The Ark is a warm and welcoming home to 100 men in similar situations. Through a series of tough breaks, limited choices, or an insufficient government pension, they find themselves arriving at The Ark seeking a safe place to call home, where they can be part of a community and rebuild their lives one careful step at a time. There’s a catch though – upon arrival, new residents must agree to live by Christian standards at The Ark, which includes attending a daily devotional service, a discipleship course, and weekly services in the chapel which is located on site. In addition, drugs, alcohol and unsavoury behaviour are strictly prohibited.
Out of desperation, Greg agreed to attend the services and do his best to understand this new concept of living a Christ-centered life. After all, he couldn’t deny the fact that there seemed to be something different about the men at The Ark, something so strong and powerful that Greg wanted to know more.
Greg met with Mark, the wise and faith-filled on-site Manager. Greg’s frustration was visible when he spoke to Mark, insisting that he did not intend to be at The Ark for long and was planning all the ways he would take control of his situation and turn things around in his own strength.
Mark, having had this conversation with so many others before, spoke clearly and directly to Greg, explaining that there was still a great deal of healing – physical, mental and spiritual healing – that needed to take place in Greg’s life before he would be ready to begin rebuilding his life and healing the wounds of past hurt.
Mark explained that things would turn for the better but in God’s timing. In the meantime, Mark recommended that Greg focus on studying the Word of God, attending church services and enrolling in a discipleship course.
I met Greg shortly after his arrival at The Ark. I have the privilege of leading a wonderful team from CityHill that visits The Ark every second week to hold their Sunday service. We provide an encouraging message, one-on-one prayer and ministry time. On one of the visits, I invited the residents to join us at the baptism service at CityHill in Hillcrest. Greg had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and, although he was quiet and unassuming, it was clear that God was doing significant work in his heart. Greg was one of the men who signed up to be baptised, as Christ has instructed us all to be baptised.
Seeing the men from The Ark being baptised was such a moving moment for all of us. It was a declaration of the good work that God is doing at The Ark through everyone involved. We give God all the honour and praise for this!
Immediately after being baptised, Greg was lovingly surrounded by members of CityHill, and he received prayer. Greg felt that something had shifted in his spirit, and real change had taken place! It was at that moment that Mark walked up to Greg, congratulated him, and told him that he was ready to start moving forward. Mark declared that God would show Greg how to rebuild the pieces of his life from that very moment on. Greg leaned in even closer to God and sought Him with an open heart, hungry to know Him more each day.
By the grace of God, two weeks after being baptised, Greg received an excellent job offer as a Production Manager for a leading company, located in another part of the country. The job offer included a better salary than he’d earned previously in his career, as well as a company car and house! Talk about a fresh start! With tears in his eyes and a heart full of joy, Greg said goodbye to his new friends at The Ark and stepped into the new life, the better life, that God had created for him.
The truth is, Greg’s story is not entirely unique. We have seen God working in the lives of others at The Ark in beautiful and miraculous ways too. It is a reminder to all of us that God is involved in each of our lives in a very personal way. God meets us where we’re at, often in our deepest need. And when we truly surrender to Him as our Heavenly Father and Provider, He takes what was meant for our harm and uses it for good, for His glory!