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A Change of Plans
Is instant and radical change possible? Wayne says so. He exchanged a life of partying for one dedicated to serving others.

At a Salvation Army church service in Twillingate, N.L., Wayne Greenham recommitted his life to God. Though his family had been attending Army churches for four generations, Wayne had attended only until his teens. “Once I was on my own, I started doing my own thing,” he says. That meant drinking and partying with friends. “I spent most of my weekends with a beer bottle, not my family,” concludes Wayne. “But something always nagged at me that I needed to change what I was doing.”

Wayne Greenham exchanged a life of partying for one dedicated to helping the homeless.

After moving from Toronto to Twillingate, Wayne attended church for the first time in decades. “Part of the worship service I was attending involved a hymn my grandmother had always loved,” he remembers. “It touched a chord deep within me.” He knew he needed to change what he was doing.

“The moment I knelt at the altar, the desire for alcohol left me,” recalls Wayne. At the time, his basement contained 28 cases of beer. That Tuesday night after he came home from work, he was planning to pour all the beer down the sink. But when he entered the basement that night, all the bottles were gone, even the loose caps!

“My friends had either removed them or taken them away,” says Wayne. “I never questioned anyone about it, but thanks to them, temptation was taken from me.”

When Wayne prayed for renewal and started attending church again, his daughter, Shannon, found her father’s heart had changed. While Wayne was tidying her room one day, he discovered a note from his then nine-year-old daughter that read: “Thank you, God, for finally giving me a daddy.”

“Shannon’s note made me see what mistakes I had made in the past,” reflects Wayne. “Sadly, I realized the impact I must have made on the first nine years of her life. If nothing else, it was gratifying that my daughter saw a difference.”

“An opportunity to change”

When Wayne decided to return to church in 1996, he realized God wanted him to be involved in ministry. “I fought for three years to find every reason not to go into ministry,” he admits. “As a procurement officer in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, I had a series of great jobs and I knew that ministry would present financial sacrifices. But God’s calling continued to haunt me. It was something He wanted me to do.”

In 2000, Wayne entered The Salvation Army’s training college in St. John’s and graduated in 2002. He later spent five years as the pastor of an Army church in Montreal.

Now executive director of The Salvation Army’s Montreal Community Services, on Wednesday nights Wayne takes a truck into the streets as part of the Army’s food program for the homeless. As well, he helps 300 or so families each month at the food bank his centre runs. Seven staff and eight to 12 volunteers work there.

Wayne doesn’t consider what he does work but rather a calling from God. “I use Jesus’ words from Matthew 25:40 in my outreach efforts,” he says: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’ ”

Wayne frequently meets people who are caught up in the lifestyle he abandoned. “People at the shelter and on the street appreciate that I don’t criticize them,” he says. “I’ve walked in their shoes and know how difficult it is to come out of it. With God’s help, they have an opportunity to change.”

Carol Lowes is a writer based in Toronto.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, June 2008.

 

 
 
 
 

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