by Geoff Marsh.
I moved to a small country town when I was 15 years old to begin my apprenticeship as a carpenter, and was so very grateful to my Uncle and Aunty for taking me in and for my cousin who gave me the job. I began playing footy with the local team, hanging out with the boys around town and fitting right into the small country environment.
Sounds all very exciting, but sadly over the next 12 years this young, insecure, city boy, who tried way too hard to fit in, slipped into abusing alcohol, abusing people and abusing himself, with many scars to show for it. During this time, I had also got my girlfriend pregnant and became the father to an amazing little boy Daniel, but because of my destructive lifestyle I had separated with his Mum before he was one. It was my precious little boy that I longed to father well and get my life sorted out for, and this became the turning point in my life.
With amazing supportive parents and a Mother that had been praying for me for years, I begun the recovery journey putting my life and trust in Jesus, and it was to be the best decision I have ever made. I spent the next 10 years, learning, loving, and serving in a wonderful little Church in Doveton. During this healing period met my wife, Linda and within 2 years our first Daughter Sharayah had arrived, and to top it all off this amazing woman had embraced my son as her own, and I was now living a dream.
In 1997 we were approached to become pastors at Yarra Valley Vineyard in Lilydale with the intention to care for the church in a pastoral role. After a few years my passion and desire became more evident to care for those ‘outside’ of the church walls that were struggling with various life issues. And so it was that for the next 6 or so years we spent time on the streets, at the train stations, in court rooms or visiting prisons, taking Jesus to those that are desperately crying out for new life. This was a very special season, and during this time we met some amazing people and saw some wonderful things go on around us.
At the end of 2005 my role as pastor finished up, but not the passion and dream to reach deep into a broken community to see Jesus bringing freedom to those seeking it. A small group of us started hanging out at a coffee shop in Main Street Croydon, with the intention of being in the middle of “the mess”, meeting people, some we knew and some we didn’t. It wasn’t long before this group grew, as people longed to come have a chat, a coffee and talk about the struggles that were going on. And so birthed “elishacare”, a community of people that loved hanging out with one another. It started at the coffee shop but wasn’t long before people were meeting wherever they could to share their life and talk about Jesus and “how this faith works”. We would have lots of BBQ’s or meet in the park, gather at people’s houses and just find any excuse we could to gather. It became a regular thing to take those we had met, out into the homes of people desperately needing some help with an overgrown garden, or a clean-up inside, some rubbish removed or whatever the job was, and as we served together, we grew together.
It was so wonderful to watch it grow “organically”. We started leasing houses that were offered to us, being able to provide safe places to live was a huge issue and this also gave us an opportunity for a greater sense of community. Girls support groups started up, a group called “The Well” began, where we would come and worship, share, cry, and laugh together.
It has been an amazing journey of learning what it is to love others, meeting them in their deepest moments of brokenness. What a privilege it is to bring hope to desperate people, walking with them and watching them grow into people learning to care for others themselves.
There is so much more and we would love to share it with you, so drop us a line, come and get to know us, and please pray for us.
elishacare seeks to help restore hope, value and purpose to broken men and women in the community
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