John Milne's story of hope

The events of March 15 tested the faith of many people in Christchurch. 

One of those was John Milne. 

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Many people in Christchurch will have driven past John Milne without ever knowing his story. Source: Q+A

Starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm, he stands on Christchurch streets holding signs of encouragement and hope. He says it is his calling. 

John is a religious man - but doesn't belong to a mosque or church.

"I've tried many denominations but the trouble with so many is they seem to think they're the only one and have some monopoly on heaven, I can't handle that," he told TVNZ1's Q+A.

Although he no longer attended mosque, his former wife and children did. 

One year ago today, he was waiting for a bus and saw a stream of police cars. 

"I knew my boy had passed as soon as I heard there'd been a shooting. I knew he'd died," said John.

Fourteen-year-old Sayyad Milne was among those killed at Al Noor Mosque during the March 15, 2019 terrorist attack. 

John described his son as "quiet, friendly, outgoing, loved by many, a gentle soul".

"He left his mark, wherever he went."

John said it was horrible waiting to be told.

"We waited and waited. 

"At one stage a police woman said 'I don't think your boy is on the list'. I knew he'd passed but it gave me a glimmer of hope.

"But he was on the list."

For months after Sayyad's death, John stopped standing out on the street.

But, he says "you have to forgive everyone, to love everyone".

"I had to forgive the gunman before I could hold up a sign that said that."

A year on since the massacre, John believes his son is at peace and he has returned to spreading his message on Christchurch streets.