Archive Article: Miracles Today 31st May 02.
December 29, 2008

There are still miracles today. People who work with recovering alcoholics see miracles all the time. God is at work in this world partly through the lives that get saved from the evils of alcohol.

The Drug Awareness Council – formerly the NSW Temperance Society – held its 120th Annual General Meeting on May 29. It goes back even further – to 1832. The 1832 decision to create an organization to combat the evils of alcohol came from the many settlers who were strongly opposed to liquor and the ruin it induced. While Australia is notorious overseas for alcoholic image it is worth noting that the country has had an equally significant role in combating the dangers of alcohol. The Drug Awareness Council is tackling a problem that remains important today.

The speakers at this year’s annual meeting were from Wesley Mission’s Serenity House: Nerida Dunkerley and four of her residents. Serenity House provides accommodation for 68 men who can stay for up to three years. They then move out into other accommodation and eventually live an independent life.

There are no detoxification facilities on the site and so all applicants need to have gone through the detoxification programme beforehand.

Nerida and her team have created a very successful recovery programme. Participation in the programme is voluntary. Many of her clients are veterans of previous rehabilitation programmes and so she knows that it is pointless forcing a person to undertake a programme. There has to be a genuine desire to make a go of it.

Her four residents each spoke of his problems with alcohol. By the way, one of the things that impressed the crowded audience at the meeting was the enthusiasm and articulate nature of the speakers. An American survey once showed that the greatest fear that Americans have – even more than the fear of flying – is that of having to make a speech in public. Nerida’s four men were all able to speak with a great sense of confidence. They could not have done this before entering Serenity House. Part of the success of the recovery programme is the self-confidence that the participants acquire.

Each of the four men gave a very tragic testimony. All had started drinking as teenagers; some came from alcoholic homes. All had been brought very, very low by alcohol. All had lost families as a result of the alcohol.

Now they are doing well recovery. One person had left school unable to read and write and so is now learning to do so. He last saw his daughter 22 years ago, when she was aged two. He has found out that his daughter now has a son of her own – and so this grandfather is about to meet his daughter and grandson. Another person had also lost contact with his kids but he is now back in contact with them as well. Yet another person, with a long medical history, that said that “being sober is the best thing that’s ever happened to me”.

All of the men are encouraged to go out and do something for someone else. Last weekend, for example, they were out collecting the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal. Being involved in a cause greater than themselves helps get them away from just focussing on themselves.

One of the ways in which Serenity House is financed is through the sales from two of its shops selling second hand furniture. This is recycled furniture. Men work voluntarily at the shops. Men with recycled lives are selling recycled furniture.

Broadcast On Friday 31st May 2002 On Radio 2GB’s “Brian Wilshire Programme” At 9pm And On 2nd June 2002 On “Sunday Night Live” At 10.30pm