Community Service led me to Church!

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To Bex, Christians were hypocrites. When she was sentenced to community service she worked at a church and from there everything changed!

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Bex's Story

To Bex Christians were hypocrites. Be one thing on a Sunday but completely different during the week. Well, that was her experience with her parents.

When she was forced to do community service at a church though, her life would be completely turned upside down!


My journey in life is kind of an interesting one. From what I’d seen, I thought Christians were hypocrites. My parents had gone to church, but we were the Sunday churchers. We’d go to church on Sunday, but come Monday-Saturday, we would do whatever we wanted.  

As a child, I was sexually abused, physically abused, and mentally abused. I guess that led to my life of drugs and alcohol. When I was 15, I started really going downhill. I didn't like my mum, who was very physically violent. I didn't like my life; I felt dead inside. I had the "Why me?" attitude. Life felt so unfair.  

Even though I wasn't a Christian then, I can still see God's hand on that part of my life. When I got offered meth, I thought, "Yeah, I'll take it." The drug dealer that offered it to me said, "One puff and you'll be addicted," and I thought, "No, I'm addicted to too much already! I can't have meth as well." And that's literally the only drug I didn't experiment with.  

My grandparents on both sides are Christians, always have been Christians. In fact, the reason I came to Nelson was on a holiday to see my grandparents. On the way back, they dropped me off at Christchurch Airport. They couldn't go through to the departure lounge, of course, so they waved me off. But I didn't hop on the plane. I refused. So I just stayed here in Nelson and lived with my grandparents. I ended up having a child at 18, and married my son's dad when I was about 23. But we broke up a few months after we got married.  

One day, I was driving around in my ute, which was out on road kms. There was a police officer on the corner of the road and I thought, "No way will he see that I'm out on road kms." He was walking on the side of the road when I came around the corner and he started running to his car and he pulled me up. Because I was 8,000 kilometres out on my road kms, it was a $4,000 fine. So I went and got community service for it. And even then God's hand of favour was upon that. I ended up getting 40 hours community service for $4,000 which I thought was a rather good pay rate.  

At the community service place, they said, "You can either go to this church in Atawhai, or you can go to what we call Hira School, which is out on the outskirts of Nelson." And I thought, "Well, I'm going to the school. There is no way I am going to a church to do community service." Well, the bus turned into the church as we were going past, and I just got out. I was talking to the pastor about doing community service and thought, "What am I doing? Get back in the bus, woman! You don't wanna be here." But they said, "Yeah, you can do community service here," so I did.  

I cleaned every wall in that church. I got the ladders out and I cleaned every wall. And they said I was one of the happiest cleaners. I liked to whistle and sing as I cleaned. One day I went to the receptionist and I said to her, "What would happen if I wanted to come along to the church?" And she said, "That's funny you said that because the pastor just came to me five minutes ago and said he thought you were here for a different reason." So I asked how to come to church and she said just to turn up at 10 o’clock and come in. And there started my journey.  

I still smoked pot. I still drank on weekends. I know some people get delivered, but that wasn't my story. That wasn't my journey. I still had all the abuse and trauma from the past. In a way, I still have to work and walk through parts of that. But they just continued to accept me. It took me a year to start to work through some of my stuff. And even then, they just put me in positions where I could serve, where I felt like I had purpose. And then I met Jesus.  

I had met the church first, and then I met Jesus. It's one of those experiences you don't forget. There was the church, which was amazing. And then there's love from Jesus, which you can't even explain. I love in the Bible where it says you need the power to understand His love. Because when you've been so broken and told you're worthless, His love is something you can’t even imagine until you experience it.  

Within a month, I was off marijuana. Like I was just straight off marijuana. It was amazing. So I started turning to alcohol. But every time I had a drink, I would hear this voice, "Tip it down the sink. Just tip it down the sink." So I'd take a couple of sips then I'd tip it down the sink. And now I don't actually drink at all. I haven't for five or six years. It's a choice, I don't like it. I felt like God was getting rid of the old, and preparing me for what was to come.  

I'm thankful for the opportunities He's given me. I'm thankful that He's just always there no matter what, no matter where. When I'm being a toe rag or having a little tantrum, He's still holding my hand. He's still there with me. Now I'm actually in a job that I never thought I would be in. It was the one place I never wanted to go. I'm a social worker for children for the government. It is me to a T, a social worker, and it was the one place I said I would never go, and God placed me in there for a reason. His love filled a gap that I didn't know how to fill, and it started to change me from the inside out. I couldn't make those changes myself. Jesus just did it miraculously.  


To overcome ones obstacles alone is near impossible. In this series of Grace, we hear from multiple people, on all walks of life as they share their stories of how their lives have been impacted, challenged, and changed through the Grace of God.

Full series


Release Date:
August 3, 2022
8 mins
Bex Sands

This content has not been independently classified. Parental guidance recommended. Adult themes.