Finding faith in hardship

Matty with the help of a Now Church parishioner baptises a young church member at Darlington Park.
Matty with the help of a Now Church parishioner baptises a young church member at Darlington Park.

Church leaders’ story inspiring others to turn away from drugs

BEAUDESERT’S fastest growing Christian group, Now Church, is being run by two former drug addicts.

Matty and Natalia Russell don’t hide from that, in fact they say where they came from and how they turned their lives around is one of the most important stories they can possibly share.

The couple who started Now Church less than two years ago openly talk about their younger teenage years when they slept on the streets hooked on drugs and lived off the dole.

“I was born into a family of drug addiction and from the time I was 12 years old living in rural Victoria I was dabbling in drugs and my life was spiralling out of control,” Matty candidly admits.

“I moved to the Gold Coast where drugs were easy to obtain and I was swallowed whole by the drug scene.

“I was going nowhere until a chance meeting with a reformed addict who told me about the Set Free Church group on the Gold Coast and he asked me to come along and change my life.

“I avoided it but he kept pestering me until I finally went.”

That decision 20 years ago changed Matty’s life. He became a Christian two weeks after first going to the church and has never touched drugs since.

It was a similar story for Natalia who had become a heroin addict after living on the streets from the time she was 12.

“The same church had reached out to her two years before I joined and they had helped her totally give up drugs,” Matty said.

“It didn’t all happen overnight, you go through dark patches and we both had to be assisted to change our lives.

“Twenty years later through our charity arm, Now Care, we are offering that same assistance to locals who are trying to free themselves from addiction.”

Local businesses are recognising the great work that Matty and Natalia have started and are supporting Now Care who hold recovery classes twice a week in the city centre.

Now Church is also providing residential rehabilitation and has rented a home for men and one for women in crisis situations.

As if that’s not enough they are also in the advanced stages of planning a weekly free dinner night offering three course meals to anyone who turns up.

Now Church has a strong base of 60 parishioners and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.

They meet every Sunday at 2pm at Beaudesert State High School.

Their work so far has gone almost unnoticed and they have existed without any funding.

Hopefully the government will soon recognise their work and offer its support in helping some of our most vulnerable citizens.

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