40 Stories: Amazing love, the domino effect
Pastor Ada Boland has lived in Townsville for the past 25 years. A member of Indigenous Apostolic Prophetic Voice Ministry to the Church, she first sought to know God as a teenager and since then the Holy Spirit has transformed her entire family.
I was about 14½ and one night I just got down on my knees in my bedroom, “God, are you really there? Are you really alive? Are you really what everybody’s been talking about?” You know, I’m so popular, I’m into the sports, into everything. And yet on the inside, it just felt like an emptiness and that something was missing.
I was sharing my bedroom with my niece, Samantha. It would have been the early hours of the morning, I hear this voice and it was Samantha’s voice. And she was singing out “Aunty Ada, Aunty Ada, Aunty Ada!” and I rolled over and she’s like dead asleep. I just went back to sleep and then not even five minutes again “Aunty Ada, Aunty Ada, Aunty Ada!” I turned over and the second time I actually got out of bed, I went over to wake her, but she was just so dead asleep, I couldn’t even budge her to wake up. So I’m saying, “I wonder what’s going on? Maybe she’s dreaming.” The third time, a couple of minutes after I got back into bed, there’s this voice again? “Aunty Ada!” Now to some people, this may seem unbelievable, but it was the turning point in my life in relation to believing and having a belief and faith that God was alive and that he’s real.
I turned over and there was this light that was coming into my bedroom. There was a manly figure that had a white fluorescent, colourful … light, [and] in the centre of the light was a man and it was God. God actually spoke to me and he said, “Ada, I’m here. You were searching for me”; and I was starting to shake and he said, “You don’t have to be afraid. You’ve been looking for me. I’m here for you.”
God actually spoke to me and he said, “Ada, I’m here. You were searching for me.”
You know, so many times we think we’ve got to reach out to God, but he has tried so many times to reach us. And through his son, Jesus, he came to us. And so for this particular time in my life, he came looking for me because he saw the desire in my heart, that I really wanted to know who he was and if he was real.
From there, I just had, and I always still have it, like an overwhelming peace and fulfilment in my life. Then began, I suppose, life-changing circumstances, a life-changing crossroads in my whole family.
My mum really just changed her whole life around and came to God. There was a domino effect in my family. We had massive encounters with God and things just happening in our lives that were supernatural. My mum and dad were contemplating divorce and separation because of alcohol and because of domestic violence
My dad was in the war; he went to Borneo and he fought in Papua New Guinea on the Kokoda Trail, and here at Townsville as well, so he had lots of scars from the war in his life. But God reached my dad. He just couldn’t understand why my mother had changed so much – from a bitter, cursing, unhappy person to becoming somebody that had all this love in her heart.
Mum used to say to me, “God tells me to stop nagging, cook his dinner, leave it in the oven that if it comes home drunk, well, at least he’s got his food.” And so there was this massive love in my life and in my mother’s life and that was the next step of my dad becoming a Christian. And so, you know, there was just this change of amazing love and I suppose grace, that was beginning to grow in our family. It brought us closer.
My sisters and my mother were known to be the pugs of the town – that’s how rough and rugged our family was.
My sister just changed pretty amazingly as well. She just got so full of God that one night that we had the meeting there were these German people in the meeting in tears and crying, and we’re all sort of looking at ourselves and thinking “What’s going on?”. And the German family say my sister “just spoke our language in German. And she just spoke directions from God to us.” Can you believe this? And we’re all looking at each other and they’re crying and saying, “Now we know what God wants us to do.”
My sisters and my mother were known to be the pugs of the town – that’s how rough and rugged our family was, and that’s what we were known for, not to mess with the Boland family. They were the fighters in the town. My sister, Linda, is home with the Lord now. She just transformed so much. Her husband was Dutch and he just could not understand what was going on with her.
He says to us one day “Don’t you dare talk to us about your God. I don’t believe in your God unless he’s Dutch and he can speak my dialect.” And so me and my mum, we all started praying. And then within two months, there’s a knock on our door and here’s these two people standing and he says, “Oh, I’m actually Dutch.” Me and my mum and my sister were looking at each other and could not believe it. And he started to talk to my brother-in-law in his Dutch language. And guess what? He could speak his dialect! And within a week, my brother-in-law was baptised, saved, filled with the Holy Ghost!
So it was like a domino thing that happened in my family when God turned up in our house; the influence of God just grew in all of us.
And for myself, God just got ahold of me. I’ve always had two specific things that I hold on to. One is to be in the perfect will of God. And the other one is to know that without God I can’t do anything. And he’s just been so good to me. And I look at my life. I’ve been to 12 nations, the first black Indigenous woman to be on a leadership team and on staff at the biggest church in Townsville.
He sort of woke me up and shook me out of my bitterness, anger, frustration and that sense of lack of purpose.
We’ve travelled through difficult times, our family, and a lot of us do, with major losses in our families and grief. In the 90s, we lost my niece, Samantha, and then I lost my mum and then I lost my dad. It was a crossroads in life. And I can remember even as a Christian, getting very bitter; even when you know God, things go wrong, but I couldn’t remember and I just did not want to get out of bed.
I know that a lot of us have been there. We lose hope, a sense of hope for our future. I had to make a choice. God always seems to turn up at the right time. You know, we go through difficult times but he is there for us. This particular morning God actually got my attention and said, “Ada get up and get out of bed. You’re going to miss what I got for you down the road.” He sort of woke me up and shook me out of my bitterness, anger, frustration and that sense of lack of purpose. So I made a choice that day and God has just been so faithful, he has given me the energy, the strength, amazing peace. I don’t know how people can live without God.
We belong here because God placed us here, and I know that sometimes, as Indigenous people, we feel like we don’t belong in our own country, but I want to say to you today that you belong here, this is your home. This is your place. This land was birthed for us to look after, as custodians of the land. He made us and he positioned and placed us in a great nation called Australia. And if we’re going to see change in our families and in our communities, we’ve got to come back to the understanding that God is the creator. He created everything, for our good; and for me, Jesus gives us the real life. Just the love that God has for us And that’s what it’s all about – the amazing love of God.