Hi my name is Christine, 26 years old, the youngest of three siblings (the only girl). When I was little I can recall having ‘dates’ with God each night. Like many children, I was close to God. My dreams involved exploring vaulted cellars and caves whilst God’s voice guided me. Each night, prior to wakening, God would say “goodbye and see you tomorrow.” It was an adventure just between myself and God. As you can imagine, I never questioned if God existed or not, He was as real as my mother, father or my brothers. Sadly, however, life did not remain a bed of roses.
I was sexually abused when only four years old. Nobody knew it was happening. I felt guilty, disgusting and dirty so I kept silent about it. My brothers, my dad and I were all Catholic whilst my mother was a protestant Christian. She occasionally took all the children to an Anabaptist Church nearby. In my second year of primary school I met a girl who attended the same church and she invited me to come along. I felt more and more at home there. By the age of eleven I found myself fully committed to this new church. Unfortunately my nightly God-dates had stoped but I learned that I could meet God in so many other ways such as reading the bible, praying and talking with Him for hours on end.
By now the sexual abuse had mostly ebbed away, though occasionally one person would still touch me inappropriately. Still nobody knew what was happening – even years later. I suppressed any outward pain and appeared happy and outgoing to everyone. I had always been a spirited and joyful person.
My temperament, however, turned into anger and rebellion during puberty. It was such a difficult time for my parents to cope with my changing personality. My mother tried to set boundaries but I did not care and my father just kept silent and went into a passive mode, so did my brothers. On one hand I hated and hurt myself, and on the other I did everything (vomiting what I ate, exercising excessively, putting on tons of makeup) all to look attractive and get attention from other boys. When I was sixteen I had my first real boyfriend.
One day one of the harassers from my past tried to touch me again and because I felt like I had cheated on my boyfriend I told him what had been happening – all of it. As it was out in the open now I also told my parents and closest friends what I had experienced. Unfortunately my father, brothers and nearly every Christian male I knew failed to support me. I decided that my boyfriend would be the only ‘man’ in my life. I spent almost every free minute with him joining him in smoking marihuana , drinking and ‘partying’.
About 1 ½ years later I was with my boyfriend and some friends on holiday in Spain. I decided to call my mother and tell her I was ok as we had been travelling for quite sometime. The news I received was devastating. One of my old church friends, who had been baptised only a week earlier, had been involved in a terrible accident and had died. I was shocked! My whole world fell apart and broke into pieces. I was in a foreign country with people who didn’t know my friend who had died and what was even worst, they did not believe nor understand and therefore could not tell me where she was now – with God – at home. My boyfriend told me, I should not count on his comfort at such a time as he could not handle this sort of situation. So much for my ‘man’!
All I had left was Jesus! I cried out to Him for help, for comfort and for hope. It was at that moment I remembered how a few months prior I sensed God asking me if I really believed that my current lifestyle was what God had planned for me? As I prayed and read the Bible – things became clearer to me: I needed to make a new decision, no longer would I serve two masters!
I repented and took active steps toward Jesus (looking back I clearly see that Jesus was the one changing me and continues to do so. What mattered, however, was that now I wanted to change). I broke up with my boyfriend, went back to church and started anew with Jesus. A couple of weeks later I met a new girl at school. We became really close friends, though she thought I was a little crazy, I continually told her that if I died she should not be sad because I would be home. I told her about Jesus and what he had done for us. Four months later she gave her life to Jesus… Can you imagine my joy?! God truly amazed me.
Then… only one month later – She was killed.
This was now the second friend I had lost within 6 months! I cried a river and felt shattered. One day, as I was crying and praying, God allowed me to see my friend’s face again and hear her voice. Her words were nothing short of a miracle: “Christine, you mustn’t cry, I am home” and she smiled.
After nearly 10 years I have visited countries all over the world for God, worked with homeless people and asylum seekers, served as a missionary on the Christian ship the Doulos and have recently graduated from Bible college. I know I could not have made a better decision than to follow Jesus. It is not easy walking with God, yet He strengthens me day by day so that I can walk with Him. Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).