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New to town ... Gore Salvation Army captains Lydia and John Carpenter will be leading the church until permanent leaders can be found. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

New to Gore, Salvation Army Corps Captain John Carpenter is keen to talk to anyone who is struggling with life and needs a listening ear.

Capt Carpenter and his wife Lydia were installed as the new church leaders last Sunday.

The couple, who both have the rank of captain in the organisation, were leading the church in the interim while permanent leaders were found.

Mr Carpenter said before he became a Christian his life was a mess, and he was happy to share his story of how faith in God turned his life around.

“There are people in the community that have been where I’ve been, which is a very dark place, so people in the community who may right now be in a very dark place, they need to come and see me.

“My story is a story of redemption, that’s for sure,” Mr Carpenter said.

Mrs Carpenter had grown up in the Salvation Army Corps (church) and while she sensed a call to being an officer, she was working as a nurse when she met her future husband.

Mr Carpenter had held many jobs, including working in meat processing works and as a fireman, but was not a Christian when they met.

“[I was] smoking, drinking, swearing, rabble-rousing – I wasn’t a good person in those days,” Mr Carpenter said.

One night after a party, when they had been married about four years, a drunken Mr Carpenter had told his wife they were going to train as Salvation Army officers.

‘That [didn’t] make sense – he wasn’t even going to church.

“God talks to people in funny ways and he has funny ideas about who he wants and what he wants,” Mrs Carpenter said.

After training, the couple served as church leaders throughout New Zealand including stints in Riverton, Stratford and Balclutha.

“We’ve only been in small towns, which we like.

“We’re people-people, and small towns are [for] people-people.

“In the small towns you get to know people personally,” Mrs Carpenter said.

They retired in 2011.

They have four adult children and 11 grandchildren.