Alan – Freed from Gambling

I was aged 17 when I went to my first trots meeting. Gloucester Park was all the rage and the father of my friend was a bookmaker there. I remember it was a great night, I had a lot of fun and the atmosphere was electric. What a shame!

I was extremely blessed to be born into a Christian home in Albany, at a time when doors weren’t locked and stranger danger was – well, what stranger danger? I grew up with Melville Howe who lived on Mt Melville and I suppose I should have lived on Mt Alan but instead grew up on Mt Clarence. I made a decision for Christ at age 8 at a Billy Graham crusade, and from that moment Jesus never left my side, although I took him to some pretty horrible places. We played all sorts of sport, dug cubbies, saved up for Guy Fawkes’ night, and were so fit it was probably illegal! I looked like an emaciated greyhound and ran like one too. In 1966 at aged 12 Mel went to live in Kalamunda, my girlfriend went to live in Kensington, and Mum went to live in Midland. For the next 5 years I think I nearly drove my dad crazy with wagging school, drinking in the pine forest and establishing a whole new bunch of “friends”. I left school at 15 to join the bank, got some wheels and I was gone.

I lived with Mum briefly in Midland while working in the National bank before joining up with 3 bank johnnies in a unit in Inglewood. This was our first foray into independence and it helped shape the lives of all of us. For some it was good, for some not so good. I was transferred with the bank to Kununurra, as far away as they could get me within the state! This cute chick walked into the bank one day in 1973, and I instantly knew that she was to be my wife – weird eh? Life was fast and furious and got a lot faster with the Yamaha 650 XS1B road bike. We took that bike everywhere, with trips to Lake Argyle, Black Rock, Wyndham and El Questro. We purchased our first house in First Avenue Bassendean in 1975. Bassendean was a “God thing” as the house backed on to the Bassendean Church of Christ. Aaron (our first child) was already with us by then and he came complete with convulsions, causing Merril no end of anguish, grief and concern. I was still drinking copious quantities of grog and spending any ”spare” cash at the local TAB in Bassendean. I copped my first DUI on my bike in 1975. I was close to alcoholic, gambling heavily, had a wife and son and had just turned 21.The pastor at Bassendean was a guy named Roy Aitkin – an ex merchant seaman from Scotland, and was the perfect choice to get me back into the Church. After a few months with Roy and a couple of home truths, Merril and I were baptised on Mothers’ Day 1975.

Again, the bank transferred me, this time to Bunbury. We had to sell the house in Bassendean to clear the arrears on the mortgage and fix the bank account. The next 2 years were miserable for Merril, with the only blessing being a little bundle of joy named Christie who came along in Oct 1978. In November 1978 I resigned from the bank- mainly to again clear my debts. I was declared bankrupt through card debt ( I had about 5 cards), and spent the next 4 years paying it off through the registrar’s office. It was a shocking time. I joined Coles Variety stores in January 1979 at the Hay and Murray streets store. I managed to cop another DUI whilst working at the Fremantle variety store and was thankful to go bush again as assistant Manager at the Geraldton store. I spent a lot of time at the Council Club playing snooker and drinking heaps. Gorgeous Alana came along in September 1983.

We left Geraldton in 1984, and after a brief stint at Nollamara as Manager was transferred to manage the Katanning store. I needed a few dollars, so borrowed $75.00 from the staff booze fund which resulted in Coles charging me with theft. That went though the courts with the judge throwing out the case with no conviction recorded but that ended my association with G.J.Coles and we left Katanning in 1985 in disgrace; a low, low point in our journey. Everyone was devastated.

I joined Peter Burnett running Supa Valu Bullcreek and then Como before ending up at the Noranda store for 12 years. We became actively involved in the Armadale Kelmscott Church with Des Nelson and especially with co-running youth groups, Sunday School, coaching basketball and eventually I was introduced to worship leading. Don’t get me wrong here – I still found time to gamble just to confuse the issue. The inner struggle was astounding about now because I was so into God and the Church, and yet I still continued to do the most destructive thing in my life. I attended Gamblers’ Anonymous for a while but found the whole “Hi, I’m Alan Perkins and I am a compulsive gambler” too hard. It just seemed to confirm to me week after week that I was never changing. Through some good friends in the Church we finally managed to get back into our own house at Robin Court, Armadale. Towards the end of 1997 Des succumbed to motor neurone disease and we were left without a pastor. After knowing we should go, but not knowing where, we found our new spiritual home at Lesmurdie Baptist Church.

The move to Lesmurdie church also coincided with a change of workplace; to Dairyfarmers. God was hammering me in my private

A Joyful Alan

gambling life, and there were some seriously dark times due to the conflict of Christ and Satan in my life. Suicide became a real possible outlet for me, with lots of ways of ending it, all designed so that Merril would still able to collect the insurance. I think this was happening because Satan was beginning to realise he might lose! There was a time when I gave the whole issue to God, but also gave away any accountability to myself stating openly that God had changed me. Within a month of that, and with me thinking I was changed and that God had it all under control, I blew $15,000 over a 4 month period. I had never owned what I was doing, and unless you own something you can never give it away. Merril gave me a text from James 1 v 14-15 which talked about our own evil desires. Leslie and Gary Postma offered some one-on-ones to get to the root of why I did what I did. Leslie was definitely anointed for the role she took in dealing with my issue. One extraordinary Tuesday afternoon we stepped through a 4 step program which hinged around the ownership issue. I was asked to Repent (acknowledging that this was a ‘me’ thing), Renounce (declaring that this was no longer a part of my life), Ask forgiveness (placing it at the cross), and Accept forgiveness (a crucial part in moving forward). The old song “my chains fell off, my heart was free” was never truer than on that day for me. A life of lies, deception, guilt and deep in-dwelling pain had ended. Who said miracles don’t happen anymore? The last time I looked on the web browser there were 854,000 articles or sites on Christian Gambling. I lost a house, 2 jobs and a fair whack of cash, but there are stories of others out there who have not been so lucky. I have not been into a TAB or Pubtab outlet in 5 years. I am still Alan Perkins, God is still working in my life, I am not finished yet and never will be until I go home, but I am different!

God is good. God is gracious. He wants everyone to know him and trust in him. If you or anyone you know would like to talk with me, I can be contacted at Lesmurdie Baptist Church.

– Alan Perkins.