‘We moved every six months. It was a life of uncertainty’
Robyn’s story | The warmth of a local church and the certainty of Jesus
“I’m one of nine children. We didn’t have many belongings, growing up, and we moved around a lot. My dad would come home and say, “That’s it, we’re moving.” And we’d all pile into the car, on each other’s laps, and we’d drive somewhere until dad could find us a place to live – usually in an old shack, or a shed somewhere. It happened every six months or so, and we mostly moved within NSW and Queensland.
I don’t really know the reasons. I’m assuming my dad hadn’t paid his debts. My mother just coped with it. At times we were sleeping on the floor, as we didn’t have furniture. My father never gave us money for food. We just waited till he came home – sometimes with a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread. It was a life of poverty and uncertainty.
My schooling was also patchy. There were different education systems in NSW and Queensland, and I did correspondence for a time. We rarely had uniforms. We never stayed in one place for long enough to get them.
There was one time when we were staying in Brisbane, though, my parents decided to go to a church. I’m not sure why. We went there for a time. But it was very focused on the law and the Old Testament. It was quite controlling and we didn’t hear about Jesus.
Then, in my late teens, I did a certificate in community welfare at TAFE. I also met my husband Phil. We lived in a caravan at first and then we moved into a double-decker bus. I almost had our first baby in a bus! Then we moved to the Blue Mountains. After a while, I felt like I wanted to go to church again. I’m not sure why. We tried a few, but we weren’t welcomed and we didn’t have the right clothes. Then I discovered that one of our neighbours went to a church and I asked her about it. She said we could come.
Straight away, we loved it. The people were very friendly and warm. My understanding of the gospel has happened since we started coming to this church. It’s all about Jesus! And I have certainty now. I know where I’m going. I’ve read the Bible through several times and each time, different things strike me. I’m not good at remembering verses, because of my schooling, but I hold on to the principles, especially that we should love one another as Christ loves us.
Five years ago, our church started opening its doors to the public, every day of the week. My husband and I sit there on a Wednesday and we welcome anyone who comes in. I love it. The church is on the main shopping street, so lots of people come in and want to talk. We always ask them if they want prayer. They often say yes. You can tell that they haven’t prayed in their lives before and they don’t know how to pray, but afterwards, they always say thank you.
Once, an older lady came in and she sat down. She was very upset. She told me she was one of 12 children and her oldest brother was very sick. She was scared. I felt I could relate to her as we talked and prayed. I never saw her again, but it opened my mind to recognise that everything we go through in life can be used for good. It’s hard at the time, but you don’t have to dwell on it. Maybe it takes getting older to recognise that the things we go through are more than just an awful experience. We can use them to talk with other people. And there are a lot of people in this world who really struggle. What a wonderful God we have!”
Robyn’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.