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Finding loving family
Meltem lived with 27 different foster families before she turned 17.
“I was born into a very dysfunctional family,” Meltem explains. “My birth parents struggled heavily with substance abuse. My biological father was extremely abusive toward my mum, and we were witnesses to his actions, often hiding behind the lounge holding each other trying to block out the harmful sounds.”
Moving around so often was deeply unsettling for Meltem. School was a struggle because she was treated like an outcast.
“With all the disruptions and instability growing up, I truly believed that I could never be someone of value,” Meltem admits. “My introduction to ‘love’ was learning that to get what I needed, I had to give in unhealthy ways. If I ever misbehaved, love was taken away. This was a cycle that had followed me for a very long time.”
After Meltem was moved to a Christian foster family where she was shown a different way of life, for once life looked a little bit different.
“I made a good friend at school and I soon learned to trust him,” Meltem shares. “As he finished school we continued to stay close through youth group and church. I told him my life story and he was the first to believe me. He embraced me and said he was committed to loving me for the rest of his life.”
Engaged at 18 and married at 19, Meltem fully believed that she was leaving her traumatic childhood behind her. But she was plagued with flashbacks that started to sabotage her marriage.
“I thought all that I had gone through would be put behind me,” Meltem admits. “But in fact it was a different story. We struggled incredibly and clashed in a lot of ways, often not knowing why.”
After six years of marriage Meltem walked out.
“I believed I was trash and so I should have been treated like that. But he was determined to love me anyway. I just wished he had married someone pure and better than me and this was tormenting me, because deep down I just wanted to live a beautiful life with him.”
Meltem had been working in the Out of Home Care sector for foster children, attempting to distract herself from her own issues. When she lost that job, she found herself overwhelmed with anger, bitterness and resentment.
All of a sudden Meltem found herself numbing the pain with substances that in the past she had dared not touch, having seen the damage it had done to her birth family.
“This path I found myself on escalated to a point in which it seemed I could not recover from it,” Meltem says. “I got to a point where I had nothing left in me. I was just dead inside and out, suffocating a slow and painful death. It was time to stop running and get help.”
Meltem’s friend Anita, a youth worker, ended up dropping Meltem at Destiny Haven. At the time Meltem hated her for doing so—but deep down she knew that Anita loved her.
Destiny Haven saved Meltem’s life.
“It was a safe haven for me. I didn’t have to be afraid to evolve into my true self, I didn’t have to hide anymore. They wanted to meet the true Meltem underneath all the pain, they supported me and gave me space to trust in the process.”
For Meltem, the tools she has been taught at Destiny have been life changing. So has her encounter with God.
“I began to recognise my wrong beliefs and challenge them with the truth, what He says about me and who He made me to be,” Meltem explains. “My heart began to soften and I could see this place as my first home where I would walk in as a little girl and walk out a courageous woman.”
Meltem is now navigating married life in a new way. She is back working in the Out of Home Care Sector, bringing light and hope to young people—but from a healed place now.
“My goals are to move into a team leader role and the organisation is helping me achieve my goals,” Meltem says. “I am not far off completing my Diploma of Community Services with the support of Destiny Haven letting me do work placement and complete assessments with them. I also volunteer at Destiny Haven, as I hope to be an example of what life looks like walking with Jesus in a much more healed state of mind.”
From mess to blessed
Before she came to Destiny Haven, Lucy describes her life as “A wreck. Chaotic, messy, miserable.”
Lucy experienced significant trauma in her past, especially when her dad took his own life. She had become trapped in addiction and an extremely unhealthy lifestyle that was threatening her future.
“I was in bondage to many different people, places and things. I spent years wanting to die and I partook in many different risk taking and self-sabotaging behaviours as a result. I didn’t know how to regulate my emotions, I lacked life skills and my relationships with my family and friends were broken,” Lucy remembers.
Lucy did know someone who had come to Destiny Haven in the past, and her mum suggested it might be a good idea that she come too.
So, Lucy packed up her life and moved to Destiny Haven.
While she found some aspects of her time at Destiny challenging, overall Lucy found that Destiny was exactly what she needed. She particularly found the family home environment created by Janine and Lewis lifechanging.
“I always felt I missed a chunk of valuable years in my teenage years due to addictions and mental health but Destiny as a family really gave those years back to me,” Lucy explains. They allowed me to become innocent, safe and protected again all while teaching me how to mature through the privilege of being trusted with responsibilities within the community.”
Lucy describes the therapy she received at Destiny as “Spirit-led, intimate” and giving her “an extremely vast range of tools and resources” to work through her past trauma and addictions.
But ultimately, she says it was being supported to develop a relationship with God that truly transformed her life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the leaders who were able to express and embody the love, truth and comfort of the Lord. I was taught how to and encouraged to cultivate my own relationship with God, to the extent that I had a confidence that if I had nobody else in the world to help me, He would be enough. The most valuable thing Destiny gave me was me learning how to have a relationship with God, how to hear his voice and how to have a relationship with his Word.”
Lucy says her love for Jesus will continue to keep her going, and her church community at C3 New Life Heatherbrae. She’s now pursuing YWAM’s Discipleship Training School, a six-month, two-part program designed to help Christians grow in their faith and outreach.
Please join us in praying for Lucy as she takes this wonderful step and continues in her transformative relationship with God!
From despair to Destiny
Tabby’s life prior to coming to Destiny was one of heartbreak and sadness. She lived in constant fear and cycled through unhealthy and toxic relationships and friendships. Despite growing up in a family with two parents, water, shelter and a relationship with God, it wasn’t until she took part in the Destiny Haven program that she truly began to feel satisfied and like her life had value.
Tabby reflects, “I was controlled by my eating from as early as 13. Body image and exercise took up every thought. The hunger for relationships, sex, drinking and drugs was the path I continued to take time after time. I was in a constant abuse cycle with myself just wanting to escape from everything, find love, acceptance, worth, the feeling of being wanted, needed and valued and to have a sense of belonging and happiness”.
“A year before coming to Destiny was my rock bottom,” Tabby says. At this time she was living her life mostly in secret. She had gotten into a relationship with a man from her workplace who was a heavy ice addict. It wasn’t long before Tabby was introduced to the drug and says she “fell in love with it”.
Using ice made Tabby feel big and confident like nothing else she’d felt before. She felt the wall of sweet and innocent Tabby crumble and she embraced this ‘new Tabby’ as someone she had wanted to be for a while. “I wanted to be fun, exciting and a person others wanted to be around. I thought this lifestyle was what I needed.”
One of the reasons Tabby enjoyed taking the drug ice so much was that it sped up her metabolism and meant she no longer felt the same stresses and anxieties around food and hunger. Ice cut out the feeling of needing to eat and she lost weight without worrying about it like she had previously.
But Tabby was finally forced to take a look at what her life had become when she failed her last teaching placement as part of her university degree.
“Even though kids were my passion, ice ruined my life,” Tabby recalls. “Getting to this point for me was a sad reality.”
She remembers she spent a lot of time hugging her Bible close to her chest, not feeling worthy or good enough to open it up and read it.
When Tabby and her boyfriend broke up, she says everything about her life fell apart and crumbled around her. “I broke and I had finally had enough,” she explained.
Tabby fell into a deep and dark depression, carrying shame and disappointment with her. She was unsure how to get herself out and set herself free. “I had tried on and off in the past to have freedom, but it would never last, and I know now it didn’t last because I was not dealing with the hurt of my past,” she shares.
Despite seeing counsellors and seeking help, Tabby felt that none of them were able to understand her emotional pain and turmoil. She felt there was no compassion shown to her – only scare tactics. Tabby needed help from a place that could take her back to the roots of God, in a safe environment. She needed a place that would see her for the person she was made to be and not just for her addiction or the label of dyslexia she had allowed to rule her life. Destiny Haven was what Tabby needed.
“I have always loved Jesus, even in addiction and deep, deep sin I admired, loved and believed in God. Even though I believed I was unworthy to be his daughter, I was in awe of him. I never knew how to follow God correctly and didn’t have safe people around me to walk with me, pray with me and for me, and teach me,” Tabby reflects.
By reading testimonies of other women who had attended Destiny before her, Tabby saw hope and redemption as well as potential for what she herself could become. Tabby wanted to be all that God had created her to be.
“I came to Destiny because I truly just knew I was finally going to step into a community, a family of Christ who put God in the middle of every single thing. I craved and yearned for a place just like this, even if I didn’t know that I wanted it.”
Tabby saw her redemption and future in the love and care she received from Destiny Haven.
“At Destiny, I am seen as a capable young adult, I am seen through a God-lens of who I can be and who God created me to become. I have been given roles and responsibilities that give me the desire to be mature. I love and have made friends with people I wouldn’t have made or met outside of Destiny. I love that we acknowledge that God is the one who saved us, not ourselves,” she shares.
Tabby says there is so much that she loves about Destiny, that she really can’t narrow it down to just one thing. For her, it really has been life changing.
Tabby reflects that changing her way of life wasn’t an easy process and often reminds herself of a quote that Destiny CEO Janine once shared, “Be patient when becoming someone you haven’t been before”.
Tabby is continuing on her journey of self-discovery and learning to be the woman that God made her to be. She is thankful to have found Destiny and to have God as her saviour and Jesus as her very best friend.
Praise God for how he has worked in Tabby’s life to bring her hope, renewal and transformation through himself and the people around her at Destiny Haven. Pray for Tabby as she continues to grow and heal from her trauma and past experiences with addiction.
Hope and healing
Chrissy had a seemingly idyllic childhood. One of five kids, she grew up in Bundaberg as the daughter of a doctor dad and nurse mum. Her father owned his own medical practice and the family were financially comfortable.
But one rainy night when Chrissy was just 13, her mum had a fatal car accident when driving to night shift at a hospital in a neighbouring town. Chrissy’s life was turned upside down in an instant.
Chrissy remembers that “for a good few weeks, maybe even months after mum died, there was always people coming and going.” Friends and family filled the house for a time, but as so often happens, everyone had to get back to their own lives eventually, and Chrissy’s family were left to pick up the pieces.
Except someone stayed.
A woman who at first seemed to want to help started embedding herself in the family.
Within months, this woman had moved into the house. She started wearing Chrissy’s mother’s clothes, asked her younger siblings to call her mum, and even began to clear out the house, throwing away cherished childhood memories.
Rebellious, defiant and still in shock from losing their mother, Chrissy and her sister Libby were sent to boarding school near Brisbane. Their father was struggling to cope with five children on his own, and this seemed a viable option.
However, with the family in turmoil they desperately wanted to return home, especially for the sake of their three younger siblings. Chrissy tried repeatedly to run away from school.
She longed to be back to what was familiar, and was missing the emotional support of her maternal grandmother.
She and Libby spent time living with friends, but Chrissy hated feeling like a financial burden to other families. Eventually towards the end of Year 11, the sisters moved into a unit together.
Year 12 was spent living in a share house with friends. Challenges were present juggling study, work and keeping house. Somehow they made the most of their circumstances, and afterwards moved to Brisbane for their future. At university, Libby excelled in her studies , while Chrissy fell into a hairdressing career that was both rewarding and exciting.
Things seemed like they were getting back on track. The grief and pain of her mum’s death continued to trouble Chrissy, but she says, “I did have a successful life.” Award winning hairdresser, friends, travel, stable home with a loving fiancé… there was an abundance of satisfaction. Her twenties and early thirties were full, socialising with work and parties as her favourite pastime. Chrissy dabbled in recreational drugs, she didn’t feel as if this was a major issue for her.
But then one of her younger sisters, Steph, took her own life.
Chrissy remembers standing in a room with her dad and her two remaining sisters, all looking at each other. “Without words, we were struck with a strange knowing, it’s happening again. At that point, most of us had dealt with our grief about Mum in some either healthy way or non-healthy way, or denial, but as we stood there, no words could explain, but we were all feeling the same thing. Having been through the trauma of sudden death before, we knew there was a battle ahead.”
While completing a degree in Education Steph had worked as Chrissy’s dad’s practice manager. Chrissy chose to give up her hairdressing career to work with her dad and youngest sister Helen. Being close to them was a short-term solution to fill a void in everyone’s lives. But Chrissy was right – the pain of losing another family member took hold.
Chrissy began to experience severe anxiety, which manifested itself with intense physical symptoms. She had swelling, nerve pain, unrelenting nausea, and more.
Looking back, she wonders how nobody noticed what she was going through.
“Sometimes my jaw would tense up so much I couldn’t open my mouth,” she remembers. “I lived every day completely convinced I was going to die from this feeling.”
But alcohol numbed the pain a little, and Chrissy started drinking more than anyone knew – and she didn’t stop. She says she drank so often and so much that she never got a hangover. She even drank at work.
By 2015, Chrissy couldn’t hide what she was doing anymore, and she could no longer handle the physical symptoms of her anxiety, which were now compounded by the effects of her alcohol abuse. She ended up in hospital experiencing severe pain caused by liver failure. Her secret was out.
Chrissy never went back to the house she shared with her partner or to work at the surgery. Instead, she began to do the rounds of private rehabilitation clinics in Brisbane.
Nothing seemed to stick, though, and most of the clinics began to refuse her attendance because the psychiatrists thought she was beyond help.
That’s when Chrissy’s sister Helen stepped in – and Helen found Destiny Haven.
“Helen runs our family. If there’s something that needs doing, Helen will do it, and tell us the details,” Chrissy explains. So Helen did her research , got Chrissy organised and she said, “right, you are leaving. You’re going to Destiny Haven. You can’t run away from there. It’s Christian, and you will surely hate it.”
in July 2016, Chrissy came to Destiny Haven for the first time. But she freely admits she wasn’t ready for the program back then. “I wanted to do it all on my terms,” she says.
She spent nearly a year at Destiny until the urge to drink could no longer be contained.
Leaving in disgrace, she vowed never to return.
For the next four years, Chrissy doesn’t remember a lot. She began having seizures caused by her drinking, which often left her hospitalised and on the brink of death. Even ten hours without alcohol could trigger a seizure. “I was intubated at least eight times,” she shares. “Wow.”
Chrissy’s family continued to try and help her, but her dad was also struggling with alcohol addiction, and her siblings had their own families and children to tend to.
Heartbreakingly, Chrissy continued to spiral until one particularly bad seizure where she ended up in a coma. Her sister Libby rushed to Queensland because she thought Chrissy was about to die.
Thankfully Chrissy’s life was saved, but Libby was horrified. When she saw firsthand just how bad the situation had become, she decided she had to act. She got back in touch with Destiny, and when Chrissy was discharged she drove her back across the border.
Chrissy remembers being in a motel carpark and suddenly wondering where she was.
So Chrissy arrived back at Destiny Haven in July 2021. Despite how terrible things had become, and how in danger her life was from her addiction and dire mental health, she’d had so many failed attempts at rehab that she didn’t really expect anything different this time around. But things did begin to change.
While it was alcoholism that brought Chrissy to Destiny Haven, she remarks, “The longer you are here, the less the reason you came here becomes the problem.”
In other words, initially being in Destiny for Chrissy was about breaking free from addiction, but after detoxing then she had to work on her uncontrollable anxiety “without something to cover or disguise or deny it.”
And then something happened that completely changed everything.
“In September 2021, I found Jesus,” Chrissy says simply.
God worked powerfully through Destiny Haven’s staff to show Christ’s transforming love to Chrissy, and one night she experienced what she describes as miraculous deliverance from her greatest burdens. Despite never having considered faith before, Chrissy became instantly convinced that God is real, and that she wanted to follow him.
Of course, Chrissy still had things to work on, but with her newfound faith and freedom in Christ, her sense of purpose and motivation was completely different.
“At Destiny,” Chrissy explains, “We’re not just trying to learn how to not drink. This program works because the reason you want to recover is because life is a gift.”
Chrissy feels an overwhelming sense of contentment with her life now, despite what she has gone through. She believes that God has been at work through every part of her life – good and bad – and she now says, “I am satisfied and I have everything that I need.”
On 29 August, Chrissy graduated from the Destiny Haven program. It’s been a long time coming for her, but she feels she is really ready now. “I want to be challenged with the flaws in my character that don’t promote the kingdom. I am willing to be teachable and vulnerable. I will continue to be accountable,” Chrissy says.
As a first step, she will stay on at Destiny as an intern for a year, and possibly beyond if God that is God’s plan.
Just recently Chrissy went into Brisbane to renew her driver’s licence – a boring bureaucratic task to most, but a real milestone for Chrissy. “To me, it was me investing in my future. It was very procedural, but I would never have gone to the trouble to do this in the past because I never actually thought I had a future. I thought, wow, you’re making future plans, Chrissy!” she says joyfully.
She wants to continue to rebuild relationships with her family, especially with her young nieces and nephews, some of whom she barely knows.
And where possible she wants to share her faith with her friends and family. “I want to be confident to never deny my love for Jesus,” she says. “All I want from my life from now is whatever God wants me to do,” Chrissy says. “I do think I am going to make a difference somewhere.”
Lost in addiction, found in God
Kyanne is one of our Destiny Haven graduates who has stayed on to work with the team. She has been at Destiny for nearly five years, and loves having the opportunity to help other women change their lives.
But before she came to Destiny, Kyanne would never have imagined this would be where she ended up. In fact, she says, “Before coming to Destiny, my life seemed hopeless. I was an ice addict who had managed to lose just everything good in my life. I pushed away anyone who loved or cared for me and I was on a path of total destruction. I knew that if I didn’t change my life I was going to end up either in jail or dead.”
Thankfully, some of Kyanne’s friends and family rallied around her, including her best friend who helped set up a fundraiser to buy Kyanne’s plane ticket from Queensland, and her nan who played a big part in making sure Kyanne got there safely.
At Destiny Haven, Kyanne says that she found “a community of love and acceptance, where I felt safe to do the work around my childhood traumas.”
It’s never easy to overcome addiction and trauma, but at Destiny Kyanne was supported to do just that. Through group and individual therapy, spending time with the supportive Destiny team, and finding space to process their past in a safe, serene environment, women like Kyanne can experience profound transformation.
But of course, the greatest transformations are only possible through what God has done, and Kyanne is especially grateful for the role that God has played in her life. She shares, “My faith has got me to where I am today. If I hadn’t learned of the love of God and who I am in Christ then I wouldn’t have been able to find my way through the journey of forgiveness and freedom from my addiction. I am eternally grateful to Destiny Haven especially Janine and Lewis for showing me the love of God and that I’m not doing this journey or this life alone. He has always been there and I can see that now as I look back over my life.”
Kyanne says that she now knows who she is and where she belongs. “I have always struggled with finding a place and fitting in,” she explains, “but I have realised that I wasn’t created to just fit in. God made me unique and I don’t have to be anybody but me.”