Parties, drinking, drugs and breaking into homes—Brett Wason Deshong and Murphy Morris were addicted to the dopamine hit, yet were facing depression and anxiety, before finding peace within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Their troubled youth, in their opinion, was a direct result of “hanging in the wrong circle” during high school and as their grades slipped and their motivation to learn turned cold, they turned to substance abuse and Brett turned to stealing.
Breaking into people’s homes, his mentality at the time was “I have no job . . . man if I want something I will get it myself.
“I was wagging school and stealing a lot . . . I did a lot of breaking and entering and it was just bad,” he said.
“I don’t even like talking about it because it makes me feel bad. Murphy one time asked me ‘Why do you steal? These people work for this stuff and when you go in there, people see a black person in their house and that makes us all look bad.’
“At the time I was like ‘nah, that’s their fault for leaving the door unlocked’ but after a while it really started to kick in.”
Brett knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew he had to stop but he grew so dependent on the feeling drugs, alcohol and stealing gave him, it felt impossible to change.
It wasn’t until he began looking for love that he realised it was time for a new direction.
“I was looking for a relationship, romance really, and then I began having all these dreams of my family and friends dying in front of me—even one of Murphy dying,” he said.
“Man, I cried in my dream and so much that when I woke up I was still crying and all I thought was I’m going to lose my brothers and for me, God came to me and said ‘Why do you need a relationship when you already have a relationship with Murphy and you can have a relationship with Me?’
“That’s the moment I decided to give my heart to God.”
When talking to Murphy about his dreams and his experience with God, Murphy was shocked. He knew if Brett was talking about religion this much, he had to be serious about it and that was the moment they both decided to make the big change.
“Growing up, I had talked about God but more about other people’s experiences with Him and just religion in general. . . one day Brett started talking about Jesus and to see another brother even mention religion and diving into it opened my eyes, so I followed him for the journey,” he said.
They decided to go to church and see what it was like and although their first time felt silly, they persisted, determined to change their lives around.
Walking into the church, shielding their anxiety and uncertainty with their nervous giggles and cheeky commentary during a regular Bible study, they stood up and demanded change within themselves.
“It was a tough time for us and there were a lot of emotions, but I guess we had each other and we could keep each other accountable,” Murphy said.
“When we came to church, it was all new, but we had watched videos online, so we had a little glimpse of what to expect.
“It felt kind of silly at first. We thought how could something this simple have such a drastic change in our lives and gradually we kept coming and we could start seeing the shift in our lives. It was the best decision I have ever made, and I have never looked back.”
That was September 2022 and since then, the duo have changed drastically, turning away from substance abuse and crime for good.
Brett and Murphy were baptised recently and are now studying ministry through Mamarapha College, Perth, WA, with aspirations to become ministers within the Church.
Murphy has also taken up a position as a chaplain at Cairns Adventist College in Gordonvale every Friday, supporting and teaching young people, something he never thought he would do in his life.
“I never liked kids but throughout my journey I guess my heart has softened,” he said. “I really love children now and just everyone in general. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that have the biggest impact—it’s beautiful.”
Mareeba Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Sean Tavai has watched the duo flourish and become a major part of the church community.
“I have watched them come so far and so quickly,” he said.
“Their growth is just a whole other level and what has contributed to their keenness is wanting to give this walk of life a shot.
“They are always asking when the Bible study is or when they can start preaching and that sort of thing.”
Looking back at where they were only 11 months ago, so much has changed in Brett and Murphy’s lives, filling their days with positivity and happiness—something they never knew existed.
They encourage anyone who may be in a rough patch in life to seek help, whether it be in good people or the church.
“I get to meet so many beautiful people and this journey has really changed my perspective on life,” Brett said.
“I get to go on lots of camps and be a part of events and activities that I couldn’t originally go on because I never knew it existed and now, they do exist in my life, I feel a lot happier.
“The advice I would give to anyone, in the simplest form I can put it, you have to believe in yourself and it’s not up to me to change you, it’s up to you to change yourself.
“Nobody could change me (as a teenager) but there was a lot of good advice that helped me think about change.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is open to anyone, particularly youth who wish to get involved and channel their creativity and make new friends.
“Our young people are crazy creative and talented and we as their elders tend to forget that and I truly advise young people to express their talents,” Pastor Sean said.
“I want to help create those opportunities for them to do that and get behind them and support them and influence them in a positive way.”
Ellie Fink is a Journalist for The Express. This article has been reprinted from The Express newspaper with permission. The Express covers the Far North Queensland region.