'If you’re sharing Jesus and it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, don’t give up'
Louise’s story | Years later, she called the local church
“I grew up in a housing commission place in western Sydney. It was pretty rough. My dad worked night shift, so we didn’t see him very much, but we were all close to my mother.”
“After school, I started a degree in literature, which I enjoyed very much. But at the beginning of my second year, I was visiting a friend, and I got a call from a paramedic. He said my mother had died. It was sudden and horrific. She’d had an asthmatic attack at home. My father, and brother (who was 15) and sister (who was 12) were there when it happened. They tried to revive her before the ambulance came. They watched her pass away.
“It was an incredibly difficult time. I quit my Uni degree. We couldn’t even pay for my mum’s funeral. I got a full-time job, and I became responsible for everything in the home – cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, supervising homework, driving my younger brother and sister around.
“I was barely an adult myself. My dad wasn’t coping at all. He would come home from work and stare at the walls. There was nobody to talk to. My friends at the time didn’t understand the load I was carrying. So I learned to hold it in and keep going.
“After 12 months I was in a really bad place. I remember waking up and thinking, ‘If God isn’t real, I’m not sure there’s any purpose to this, or any hope at all.’
“Some years earlier, we’d had Christian neighbours. Our house was semi-detached and there was a small brick fence out the front. Our neighbours would often be out the front when we were coming in or going out. Their mum would deliberately connect with us and share her faith in Jesus. She’d even taken us to her church a couple of times. But they moved out just after mum died and I didn’t know where they were. I wanted to talk to her, but I had no way of getting in contact.
“So I decided to give her old church a call. I explained over the phone that my mum had died and I was very depressed. I said, ‘I think I need Jesus.’
“The person said, ‘Come down here right now.’ So I did. I met with a youth leader who was fantastic. She sat me down and listened to me. I was able to talk for the first time. Within a few weeks, I decided to become a Christian. It was mostly because I realised that God was there in the midst of it. He had a plan and a purpose even when it didn’t feel like it. God was at work through everything.
“I went home and told my family. I said the Gospel made sense to me. I said that my faith in Jesus had made a big difference to me, and I encouraged them to come to church. My dad and brother also became Christians within the year. It wasn’t magical or overnight, but things definitely changed for us. Life was still hard but there was meaning and purpose. My dad became a changed person, after being quite angry and aggressive before.
“To me, it speaks about fruitfulness. Our neighbours witnessed to us for years, and they didn’t see any fruit. But when it came crunch time for me, I called the church. It reminds me that we’re called to sow the seeds, or water the seeds, but God brings the fruit, in his time.
“I want to say to people, if you’re sharing Jesus with your neighbours, or the people you love, and it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, don’t give up.
“Amazingly, just last year, our neighbour made contact with me again, 25 years later. I told her what had happened – that I’d come to faith, and that now I have three theological degrees, and I lecture at Mary Andrews College in Sydney. I told her that she’d been part of my story. She was amazed.
“But it’s the same for all of us. We never know when our words will make a difference for someone … maybe God will use them today.”
‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6)