Relying on God
Fran Haira is an adherent at Whanganui City Corps. She speaks to Rachel Montgomery about her journey to faith and The Salvation Army.
When I was younger, my husband left me and our three children. It was a struggle trying to raise them. I had found a church in my local community in Wellington, and I kept asking God to help me. I was considering going home to Scotland but one of my children was with the Open Home Foundation and I knew she would not be able to leave New Zealand. I recall God speaking to me one night with these words, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. I had never heard these words before. The following Sunday, the children stood up in church and recited their Sunday school memory verse, the exact words God had spoken to me! I was amazed.
From then on, God kept helping me through the good times and the hard times. I was able to secure a property in Whanganui and a friend helped the children and me move from Wellington. This opened many opportunities for me to work with the Open Home Foundation.
Many years later, I was attending a church in Castlecliff that had a lovely young pastor called Phil. He was an encourager and an evangelist. I had some incredible experiences in that church and was able to help people in my community. Tragically, Phil died in an accident. I was asked to be the assembly leader to keep the church together until a new pastor could be found—
I was just like the mum who kept them all together. People were grieving for Phil and they needed someone to listen to them and be there for them.
At this time I helped wherever I could. There was a man in the church named Paddy who had been helping Phil with painting and fixing up the place. He decided he would keep doing what Phil had wanted, to make the place look nice and tidy. I knew he couldn’t drive because of his medication, so I offered to take him into town for supplies. We didn’t even particularly like each other, but we spent a heap of time together. Then one weekend I went away to this annual Christian leaders’ prayer conference. While I was away, I realised I missed Paddy and that I had feelings for him. When I came back from the conference, I learned that he had missed me too and that we actually loved each other but we hadn’t recognised it at the time. We kept it under wraps for a while, and then we decided we should get married. When we told the church we were getting married, they were not surprised as they had been waiting for this. They could see what we hadn’t been able to see. I felt God gave me a second chance at love.
Paddy and I went to visit my family in Scotland, and when we came home there was hardly anyone left in the church, which was very sad because it had been so good. Although we stayed for a little longer, I just knew my season there was finished. For a while we were floundering, not knowing where to go. We had been singing in the community choir and it was there where we met John Coffey. John told us he attended The Salvation Army, so we went along to see what it was like as we needed a spiritual home. We were so happy to be part of the corps (church).
I have been involved with different activities in the corps, as I have wanted to be part of a church that is outward-focused and helps people in our community. I went into nursing because I wanted to help people. I was part of the Open Home Foundation because I wanted to help families. I have been willing to lend a hand wherever it is needed. I have seen many answers to prayer.
A couple of years ago we put our house on the market but didn’t end up selling it. However, the sleep-out became classified as a flat through this process because it has a kitchen bench. The council then started charging us for two dwellings, which meant our rates doubled. We are superannuitants and found ourselves struggling with the increase in rates. We prayed about it and then Paddy’s daughter told us of a lady who needed an affordable place to live. It all happened within a month of praying, we met her and she moved in. If this had not happened, I don’t know what we would have done. I thank the Lord that he brought her along at the right time and she has been wonderful to have here. God helped us and we helped her by giving her somewhere to live.
Paddy was raised in a Māori family. Whenever anything happened at the local marae his dad was the cook, so Paddy took on serving. It seemed logical to us that we could help at church in the kitchen by doing the dishes. There is a lovely Māori proverb that means if things are being looked after in the back, things will go well at the front. We thought if the leaders don’t have to worry about the dishes or that kind of stuff, they can concentrate on what they do best.
God has been amazing and still is, of course. He provides for me in so many ways. It’s hard to pinpoint all the times he has helped me, yet whenever I have needed something, it happens. One important thing I have tried to remember throughout the years is that God hears and cares about the little things I pray about. His words remain true to me, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5).