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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



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“So, I seriously should be a statistic. I probably should be talking to you from a prison cell or, you know, dead. Cause that’s my background.

I was into drugs. Doing crime. Just going along with the crowd. A lot a survival stuff. I calculated when I was 23 years old I’d lived in about 23 -25 different places; foster homes and youth refuges. So, there was no consistency. My identity was shot.

There was this time … I was 17 and it was Christmas. The people in this refuge I was staying at were going out for a lunch with the workers and I was too proud for that. I didn’t want their charity or sympathy.

So, I told them, “No. It’s ok. I’ll go back and see my mum.” But I knew I had nowhere to go.

And so, I actually spent Christmas day outside a public library on the Sunshine Coast, lying down on a public bench. And all I could hear was the echo of the push buttons of the streets.

I didn’t understand why it was happening to me. I felt, like, why me? Why am I going through this? I felt angry but I think the more frightening thing for me was that I started to feel numb. Like, become numb towards the world. I didn’t feel like I belonged. Like, a person who has kind-of slipped right through the cracks.

I went back to the youth refuge later on when I felt it had been ample time … but that was pretty lonely. That’s the hallmark moment that I look at as the lowest point. Yeah.”

“So, I turned 18 and I was just like, I’ve had enough of this. I think I’m gonna do myself in. But then I thought, like, ‘God, if you are real, maybe I can try and find you?’

I could have got my hands on a gun but I decided to, like, you know, try and get my hands on a Bible.

So, I found one. I opened up randomly and read, “Charity covers a multitude of sin.” So, I was like, ok. Great. The next day I walked up the road and I donated my Resident Evil 2 game and PlayStation to a church.

I was being desperate. Like, I was trying to get like God’s attention.

I kept reading the bible and then I’m like, ‘I’ve got to find a church’. But I didn’t know anything about churches.

It was 5:30 in the afternoon. It should have been shut, but I went inside to who I thought was the bookkeeper person and was, like, “I need to find a pastor!”

And he’s, like, “Well, I’m a pastor.”

And it was this Malaysian guy. His name was Pastor Patrick.

And he took me out to Hungry Jacks and drove me in his old VB Commodore. He sat outside the front of my house and he’s like, “I want to pray with you”.

And I said, “Yeah, ok”. And I felt peace for the first time that I can remember without drinking or drugs or anything like that. And then from there that’s where my life really changed.

I found a church full of people who were imperfect and everything like that. But I linked in there. I got out of that halfway house. Got mentored. Got a job. Started study. And the rest is kind of history from there.

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Now I work helping younger people. I help them to build skills to gain employment. Cessnock has a lot of people that I feel slip through the cracks. So that’s why I’m here.

The biggest thing that I’d want to say to people - like, it sounds cliché and everything like that - but to a young person or old person or whoever it might be:

It’s not about how you start. It’s how you finish. So, if you want to finish well, you still can. It’s up to you.”