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Jan20WedAmbrose Payne had no connection with God until family friends brought him to the doors of a Salvation Army church. January 20, 2016 by Diane Stark
Major Wayne Green spotted Ambrose Payne praying at the front of the church, and his heart soared. Ambrose had been attending The Salvation Army's Conception Bay South church in Newfoundland and Labrador for a few weeks and Major Wayne thought he might be thinking of becoming a Christian. But when he asked the friend who was with Ambrose, she shook her head.
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“His parents are ill,” she replied. “He's praying for them.”
“Well, it's good he's praying at all,” Major Wayne answered.
It was definitely a step in the right direction. Ambrose was learning and growing, so much that he now trusted God to help his parents. But would he trust God with his own life?
Falling in Love Again
Ambrose was born and raised in Harbour Round, a tiny community near La Scie, N.L. As a child he attended church, but he didn't understand or enjoy it. “I felt no connection to God,” he recalls.
After graduating from high school, Ambrose completed an industrial cooking course and worked as a chef for about a year before getting a job in a furniture store. “I was married so I took whatever jobs I could get,” he says. He had four sons with his first wife before the marriage fell apart. “I had a really rough time,” Ambrose says now. “I felt my life had no purpose.”
In 2000, Ambrose attended a party with his then-girlfriend. There, he met a widow named Patsy. “We danced and talked, but I was already in a relationship,” Ambrose says.
Just weeks later, though, that relationship ended, and Patsy hadn't forgotten about him. “She called me and asked me to a New Year's Eve ball,” he smiles. “We had a great time that night.”
That Valentine's Day, Ambrose proposed and the couple were married in July 2001. “Patsy's a wonderful woman with two wonderful daughters,” Ambrose says.
Patsy had attended a Salvation Army church for many years, but after her first husband passed away, she'd stopped going to church.
After Ambrose and Patsy had been married for several years, some Salvation Army friends came to visit and wanted to attend a Sunday night church service. Ambrose decided to go along.
“Everyone seemed truly happy that I was there,” he says. “I just fell in love with the Army and its people.”
Serving God and Church
Over the next several weeks, Ambrose continued to attend services at Conception Bay South. “God was working in my heart through the people there,” he says. “Major Wayne spent a lot of time with me and then Major Lorne Pritchett started as the pastor, and he helped me, too. I was struggling because my parents were sick, and they taught me that I could go to God with my troubles. I began praying and realized that it comforted me.”
A few weeks after Major Wayne had seen Ambrose praying for his parents, Ambrose felt God calling him.
“The song we were singing spoke to my heart and I felt moved to make my decision. I don't even recall leaving my seat to go up to the mercy seat, that simple wooden bench where people can ask for God's pardon. I felt as if I was floating,” he says. “After I prayed and became a Christian, I felt such a relief in knowing I was forgiven of my sins.”
Patsy was proud that Ambrose had become a Christian and started attending church with him. A year later, in 2012, Ambrose strengthened his commitment by becoming an official member of The Salvation Army. “When people see me in my uniform, they know I stand for Jesus.”
In April 2015, Major Lorne asked Ambrose to become the church's colour sergeant. “My job is to raise the flag at our church every morning and lower it every evening. It's an honour to serve God that way,” he says. “And after everything my church has done for me, it's the least I can do.”