I discovered God at the age of 4 when my mother took me to visit some nuns. While I didn’t know much about who God was, I knew enough to know that He was the reason for the overwhelming sense of peace I felt when I was with these nuns. I wanted to become a nun too.
I didn’t realize then how crucial my love for God and my relationship with Him would become, I only knew how desperately I loved Him and wanted to know Him. I even tried to send God some toys. (Picture aluminum pie plates, string, balloons, masking tape, and my brother’s army men…) To this day, I believe it made God giggle!
It was shortly after this that the relentless abuse began at the hands of my father. My childhood happiness was brief and short lived — innocence and purity ended the first time I was raped at the age of 4. It would continue, typically daily, for years.
Even as my entire world fell apart, I remembered the peace the nuns had, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was the source of that peace. I knew that, someday, God would rescue me from the endless nightmare — all I had to do was keep my focus on Him — it was all I could do in those desperate hours, days, months, years as a virtual slave to my father’s sexual perversions.
I found myself pregnant before reaching my teen years. And then dealing with a pregnancy loss mid-term with no one to turn to, engulfed with grief and horror that I couldn’t even begin to deal with or process at that age. I was completely overwhelmed with my life’s desperate reality. Although I had been holding on to God up to that point, with increasing difficulty, it was then that I let go of Him, let go of my focus on Him, and from that moment it felt as though someone turned out the lights. Complete and utter darkness. It would be years until I realized that although I had reached the end of my own strength, I would never reach the end of His… He had never let go of me.
I moved out of our family home at the age of 15. Even though I had left, I was still being raped, just no longer every day.
God set me free at the age of 18. But freedom was bittersweet — finally free, but broken and unsure how to rebuild the relationship I once had with God, a struggle compounded by my marriage to an unbeliever. It took years, but God taught me that I had a choice to make — would I choose to live the rest of my life a slave to satan, bitter, angry and ashamed, or would I focus only on God with absolute trust, faith, gratitude, praise and worship? Scripture says clearly that we can not serve two masters. My heart only has room for the true Master, the Redeemer, the only One who could build beauty from these ashes, the One who would restore the years the locusts had destroyed, the One who would turn my mourning to joy… the One who taught me His word by walking me through it.
The One who paid my ransom and washed me white as snow.
He did not comfort me just so that I could be comforted, but so that I could also bring that blessing to others. He didn’t rescue me just so that I could be rescued, but so that I could rescue others in His name. My experiences have opened my eyes to the abuse, injustice and slavery that happens to children all over the world today. Having been rescued gives me a profound sense of something beyond compassion — a sense of responsibility toward these children to whom I can relate so deeply. Most recently, God led me to learn about the situation of child slavery in Ghana, where four of our Compassion children live, and made it clear that He had brought me through my past so that I could be His hands and feet there too. These children, sold into slavery, are used both for slave labor in the fishing industry, while the girls are also used as sex slaves. God provided the funds for us to build a school in the Lake Volta region for rescued child slaves, and we will be traveling there in November to take part in the school construction, work with the children who have been rescued, and with those still awaiting their freedom.
My past, for such a time as this.
Sometimes, the most broken of vessels allow the most light to shine through, and the most water to pour out. I live my life for Him so that others can come to know Him through my life. So that even my father, who is still unsaved, can surrender to Christ through my example of love and forgiveness. I don’t love my father because he is my father, I love him because Christ does, and to deny my father of Christ’s love would be to deny my Savior — I refuse not to love.
I am proof that hardships are priceless treasures, used by God to refine faith, to teach love, to give purpose, to give contrast to His light. How can we learn to appreciate the light unless we’ve experienced the darkness? I’m no different than any of you — I had the same choice to make. Will I be a slave to satan, or a pursuer of Christ?
I was broken, but now I live.