church:
place where Christians meet to pray etc.

minister:
person who leads a Christian church

pray:
to ask God for help


Gabriela Byrne (easy version)

Gabriela lived and worked in a big city in Australia. She was married and she had two children. She had a good job in an office.

Gabriela ate lunch in a place near her work. There were machines there. You could put money in the machines. Sometimes, when you put money in, you won a lot more money.

Gabriela liked the machines a lot. She spent more and more time playing them, and she spent more and more money on them. Sometimes she won, but usually she lost.

Soon she lost her job because she wasn’t spending enough time at work. But she quickly got another job and she kept on playing the machines. Soon her family had no money left in the bank.

Gabriela knew she had a big problem. She talked to her husband, Peter, about it. They made a plan. For a while, Gabriela would not be able to take any money out of the bank. And because she wouldn’t have any money, she wouldn’t be able to play the machines. Gabriela and Peter thought this would get Gabriela away from her bad habit. But it didn’t work. Gabriela got an extra job in the evenings and she used the money to play the machines.

Gabriela was frightened. She tried to get help. She joined a group of people who had the same kind of problem. She went to a lot of meetings with these people and talked to them. But it didn’t work. She kept on spending money on the machines.

Then Gabriela started talking to the minister at her church about her problem. She talked to him often for about a year. She felt better. She had stopped playing the machines. She didn’t want to play them any more. She thought she had got away from her bad habit. Gabriela talked to Peter again. They decided that Gabriela was all right, and she could start taking money out of the bank again.

One day, a while later, Gabriela asked her husband’s sister to look after her children while she went to do some shopping. She wanted to buy a present. Gabriela found the present more quickly than she thought she would be able to. So she had some extra time. She decided she would go to have a drink. She knew there were machines in the place she was going to but she wasn’t worried. She was sure she’d never want to play the machines again.

But as soon as Gabriela got inside, she started to play the machines. She couldn’t stop and soon there was no more money left in the bank. Then she went to play machines in another place where she was able to borrow money. She played there until she couldn’t borrow any more. When she had to stop playing, she phoned her husband’s sister and asked her to keep the children for a while. Then she phoned her husband who was working in another city and asked him to come home.

She went home and cried and prayed and waited for her husband. He says that when he got back and saw how unhappy Gabriela was, he knew she would never play the machines again. And she never did. She went to work trying to help other people with a problem like hers.

- information from: The Guardian, (London, England) 03.02.12, (Max Daly); The Guardian, (London, England) 04.08.31 (Simon Mayhew); Alive Magazine, 00.03, (June Yu); www.freeyourself.com.au/gabrielabyrne.html