'I thought church was for old ladies, little girls and weirdos

Trish’s story | God’s grace and perseverance, even in my disobedience

“I’m the youngest of seven children, ‘the spoilt brat’.  My siblings were all born before the war, and I was born after the war. My father was a POW in Burma and Changi, and for most of that time my mother didn’t know whether he was dead or alive. When he did come home, his nerves were shattered and she suffered from anxiety.

As a child I was very unhappy because I didn’t think they loved me. I longed for affection, but that wasn’t something they did. I became an angry, willful child with a foul mouth. My parents didn’t know what to do with me.

At high school I saw people with different values and I began seeking for truth. One day God spoke into my mind, “Go to church; the answers are there.” I was horrified at the thought because I thought church was for old ladies, little girls and weirdos.

I knew they had something I wanted.

But God persevered with me, and a few months later I followed a neighbour to church. I thought the minister was speaking a different language. However God kept telling me to go, and eventually one of the young people asked me to join them for supper. I knew they had something I wanted, so I began to ask questions, and they introduced me to Jesus Christ.

Asking Jesus into my life as Lord and Saviour was the most wonderful moment. God filled the void in me with his love! I couldn’t contain it all, so when I got home I was running around the house, not knowing what to do with the love I felt. God told me that I was to listen and obey my parents. They asked me what was wrong, and I told them that God loved me. I asked them to forgive me for being a terrible daughter. We were all in tears, and we were hugging and kissing for the first time. Our relationship was transformed as I submitted my life to God and to my parents.

I had such a thirst to know God. I went to Bible study and youth group, and then later to Bible College. In my thirties I worked in missions in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Throughout my life there have been great highs and lows, joys and sorrows. Looking back, the great and precious joys have come when I have put God first and allowed him to transform and use me. The dark and miserable times have been through my own willfulness and disobedience.

I condemned myself. I carried guilt. It was a dark and terrible time.

In Mount Hagen I met someone at church who was lonely, without Christian fellowship. I married him without really knowing him. He told me he shared my faith in Jesus, but he didn’t really. Three months into our marriage, I found out he had a girlfriend in NZ. While I lived with him, I lived in hope. But after discovering many lies and broken promises I lost trust and respect. I divorced him after three years.

Some years later I met a guy who’d been in the Vietnam war. He was a mess, and I felt sorry for him. I nearly married him. But just before I did, I saw his psychologist, who asked me about my father and my ex-husband. I began to see the pattern of being a carer like my mother.

The cross of Jesus came to mean everything to me.

When I first became a Christian, I had been overwhelmed by God’s love, but I didn’t personally see myself as a sinner. But after that relationship finished, I saw myself as a sinner. I condemned myself. I carried guilt. It was a dark and terrible time, until God drew me back to himself in persevering love. He enabled me to accept his unconditional love and forgiveness. I was saved by his grace!

That year, the cross of Jesus came to mean everything to me. Jesus hung on that cross, taking my sins upon himself.  He suffered and died for me. He cleansed me and clothed me in his righteousness. How precious and wonderful is God my Father, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, my helper, guide and teacher!

Today I’m on a journey with God, and I never lose the wonder of what he has done for me.  There is a hymn I love very much: “Living he loved me. Dying he saved me. Buried he carried my sins far away…”  I find myself singing it often!”

 Trish’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Isaiah 54:10

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