From at-risk to life with No Limits

That moment when silence speaks louder than words…

Earlier this year a group of girls from Ipswich State High School made their way to the top of a hill to look out over the horizon to watch the sun set, not only on the day that was, but on their troubled pasts.

It’s the moment Ipswich State High School chaplain Debbie Grey calls ‘the magic show’.

“It’s this amazing moment where you have these young people staring out in awe at this beautiful view with the sun setting. There’s just silence. They’re not looking at their mobile devices, they’re just fixed on this special moment,” Chappy Debbie says. Continue reading

You healed Mel’s scars

As 13 year old Mel looked down at the self-inflicted scars on her wrist, which were now just starting to heal, she knew she’d turned a significant corner in her young life.

If it wasn’t for friends like you who believe children and young people matter, Mel’s story might have been very different. Instead, the scars of her past are fading and the future is looking brighter.

“Mel began to self-harm under the stress and struggle of her daily battles at home and at school. Because of her size, she was often both the bully and the bullied,” recalls Kepnock State High School chaplain John Coleman.

In just 13 years, Mel has been forced to grow up fast. Her mum, Sue Ellen, has been ‘doing it alone’ for as long as she can remember.

Losing both of her parents at a young age, and then having two daughters to raise, while battling with long-term mental health issues has been tough for Sue Ellen and her girls.

But Sue Ellen loves her children.

“Mel is really my life now after my eldest moved out. As a single mum, I’m so grateful to also have the support of the chappies, both with my eldest and now with Mel. They’re so patient and so willing to give of their time to help,” Sue Ellen says.

Kepnock State High school chaplain, John – or Chappy John as the family calls him – first met Mel early last year after she’d had some ‘behavioural issues’ at school.

“Mel struggled both within her home life and school life. Both of these were linked as she would act out at school.  

“She was always aware of her mother’s personal mental health issues, but at such a young age she didn’t have the maturity to make sense of her mother’s actions and words.

“At school she would act out by bullying other students. She herself would be picked on at times. She would often yell at staff when confronted, leave the classroom without permission, and roam the school causing general trouble,” Chappy John recalls.

Patiently, John helped Mel better manage the myriad of emotions she was battling. He helped show her that her teachers did want the best for her.

Change was in the air.

“There were still times she’d get angry with a teacher and storm off. But she’d then come back and apologise.

“She’s also stepped into the role of carer for her mum as she came to understand her more, which has given her greater patience.

“Mel’s self-harming also subsided over time and I remember her proudly showing me the drying scars and the healed skin,” says Chappy John.

For Mel, having a chaplain in school has made a positive difference in her life.

“The support, encouragement and caring nature that John showed me when I needed it most, gave me the self-belief to work hard and open doors to achieve things I thought would be impossible,” she says.

Mel’s mum Sue Ellen agrees, saying she would not be without a chaplain at school.

“Personally, it’s a relief to know you have someone in the school for your child to go and talk to who will listen to them.

“For people who are against having chaplains in schools, I’d invite them to go and speak with a chaplain. See the work they’re doing in schools, the patience they have for kids.

“For the people who support the school chaplains I want to say thank you for what you’re doing.

“Thank you for the kindness you’ve shown to kids like Mel. I believe that something nice will happen to you for your kindness,” she says.

School chaplains would not be able to do all that they do without the kindness of friends like you.

You can be there for young Queenslanders in need of support like Mel. Make a positive difference today and visit suqld.org.au/donate.

Your prayers got me through, says Rheannan

As you may recall from our Christmas Appeal last year, 17-year old Rheannan from Bundaberg was supported by her Chappy through flooding rains, her sister’s cancer diagnosis and her family’s financial strain.

As if that wasn’t enough, late last year Rheannan was diagnosed with a chiari malformation, a condition where brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. As a result, she suffered through severe headaches and dizzy spells. Over time her symptoms continued to deteriorate. Continue reading

Footprints in the sand imprinted on the heart

As a young girl growing up in Wales in the 1940s, SU QLD supporter Billie Patrick, made footprints in the sand at the very same Llandudno beach Scripture Union founder, Josiah Spiers, first crafted his simple, yet inspirational message of God’s love.

It was the same beach Billie’s great grandfather, a contemporary of Josiah Spiers, is believed to have shared God’s love as he preached among the sand dunes.

It’s this same message that Billie has carried in her heart since becoming a Christian in London at 21 years of age in 1957.

“I remember asking my friend June, who’d been praying for me to come to Christ, ‘what do I do now?’ Continue reading

You brought hope to families connected by crisis

You may recall the story of Violet and school chaplains Kylie and Sarah from earlier this year.

What we weren’t able to share with you at the time was the beautiful relationship Violet formed with a would-be classmate at Bald Hills State School.

In January 2016, Violet was to start Year 1. Instead, she was confined to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to begin cancer treatment.

Violet’s teacher kept a desk available in the Year 1 classroom in anticipation of her return.

Chappy Kylie set up a letterbox on Violet’s desk for her classmates to write letters of encouragement and support to give to her while she was in hospital.

At the desk next to Violet’s was a girl named Holly… Continue reading