24 January 2017

From scribbling in the sand to bringing hope

Posted in At-Risk / Chaplaincy / Our heritage / Youth issues

A desire to bring God’s love, hope and good news to children and young people led Josiah Spiers to write ‘God is love’ on a Welsh beach 150 years ago.

His simple act drew a small group of children that day, but it also birthed an organisation that now, through your persistent prayers and ongoing financial support, spans more than 130 countries worldwide.

It is that same mission, 150 years later that helped save the life of Caboolture’s Trent Cooper, who is now paying it forward to the next generation…

Growing up in a broken home in a low socioeconomic area, coupled with poor social skills and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), the odds were stacked against Trent from a young age.

“He was a young man without a lot of confidence. He had very low self-esteem. Other children are pretty quick to pick up on the broken ones and he was bullied right through his early school years and into high school,” his former school chaplain, Jenni Dobbin says.Trent-Cooper_edit

Trent recalls these years with great difficulty.

“It was terrible. I just couldn’t step two feet within the school gate without getting in a punch up. People used to king hit me from behind when I was walking to class and I would try to retaliate and then I’d get suspended,” he says.

His home life too was highly volatile. The only respite from his tortuous existence was the chaplain’s room.

“It helped me big time. Every time I was having a bad day I would go talk with my chaplain. It’s where I could feel safe,” Trent recalls.

Chappy Jenni, together with the help of some dedicated chaplaincy volunteers, listened to Trent and worked with him to build up his self-esteem and show him that he was loved, cared for and supported.

This reassurance helped spark a change in Trent, and his confidence soared. He was making friends, his grades were improving, and he started attending a local youth group.

Through Chappy Jenni’s connections at the local Uniting Church, she organised for Trent to be sponsored to attend an SU QLD ‘Splash-Out’ Camp at Luther Heights on the Sunshine Coast.

Not only did he have a great time, it birthed in Trent a desire to come back as a volunteer leader on SU Camps, which he continues to do to this day.

Now 23, Trent is a positive, happy young man who is passionate about helping children and young people. In addition to regularly volunteering on camps, he helps out as a chaplaincy volunteer at a local primary school.

“It’s really good because I now get to share my life story with the kids. If they went through a similar background to me I can say, ‘look at me now’. Keep your head up and just keep going,” Trent says.

While Trent thanks God for his transformation, he is also eternally grateful that he had a school chaplain to journey with him through his darkest days.

“If it wasn’t for chaplaincy, I probably wouldn’t be around today. Let’s just put it that way,” he says.

Over the last 150 years, through your prayers and support, Scripture Union has continued Josiah Spiers’ mission to bring God’s love, hope and good news to young people like Trent.

Scripture Union would not be here today if not for faithful supporters like you who believe that our children and young people need God’s love and hope, now more than ever.

This 150th Anniversary truly is a celebration of YOU, our supporters.

We’d love to hear your stories of partnering with Scripture Union. Even better, please share with us your SU story or email prayer@suqld.org.au.

Casey Seaton

Media & Communications Delivery Manager


  1. Thank you Trent for sharing your story, and I am so pleased that you are in a good place, and the word of the Lord says ” If God is for you who will be against you” God is always with us as we clasp our hands in His. Keep doing what you are doing, I am proud of you, you are an overcomer. Praise and thank God for our Chaplain’s who do a fantastic job and ministry, keep up the great work.

    Blessings, Ann.

  2. Great to read your story Trent and what God can for a person. You are very special and may God use you mightily as you reflect His love to others.

  3. I am so very grateful that we have Chaplaincy in Australia, and that there are so many like Jenni, who help so many to become such wonderful examples of what God can do in someone’s life. God bless you Trent, may you go on to bigger and bigger things for God, and may you yourself continue to be such an overcomer.

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