How Marie received Christ and floated away ...

Even cancer and suffering couldn’t stop the love of God

Marie Davis used to be a dyed-in-the-wool atheist. She would tease her Christian mother about “your imaginary friend up in the sky”. And after an unhappy experience in a Mormon church, she became determined not to have anything to do with Christianity or the church.

But then a lovely Christian woman called Sarah came into her life.

“She just gently, gently never gave up on me, and just loved me.” – Marie Davis

“We just hit it off when our boys started at the same high school,” the Gold Coast-based teacher’s aide tells Eternity.

“Anyway, she would talk gently to me about God and Jesus and I’d just say ‘no, it’s very sweet but I don’t believe it. Thank you very much, but no.’”

Finally, late one night, Sarah sent Marie a text inviting her to an Alpha course at her church, Newlife Church, saying the course was for people like Marie who don’t believe in God but have lots of questions – no questions would be off limits.

“And she said, ‘plus there’s free coffee and muffins’ and I thought ‘oh, I love my coffee and I love my muffins.’ I thought, ‘oh, my darling friend for 13 years has just stood by while I was a practising Buddhist for nearly two years (I was into crystals, angel card readings – all of this trying to find something), and she just gently, gently never gave up on me, and just loved me – never judged me, just loved me.

“Anyway, I just looked at my husband and said ‘darling Sarah never gives up. I’m going to give her the surprise of her life and say ‘yes, I’ll go.’”

Marie began her first night at Alpha by sitting right up the back of the church with her body half-turned towards the back.

But what followed was nothing like she had experienced before. Newlife pastor Scott Rigley, who was running the course, was the first to breach Marie’s defences. Having grown up at the beach with surfie brothers, she immediately related to his “surfie dude” look. And that was just the start.

“He just has the most soothing voice and just spoke from the heart and he had me captivated – like, whoah!” Marie recalls.

“And then the amazing film, the presentation of the Alpha course, which was just incredible – the scenery was so captivating and just the questions that they were asking people all around the world – I absolutely loved it, absolutely loved it.”

It was a dramatic and sudden turnaround for Marie, who had rejected God after suffering three types of cancer seven years ago, and then seeing her brother die a painful death from cancer in 2016.

“I saw him suffer; it was horrific, and I thought ‘really? If there is a God, can you just take this pain away from him?’ And instead of being so close to death with him and turning to God, it made me turn away even further.”

“I learnt about this most loving God, this person who would have died for me if I was the only one that sinned.” – Marie Davis

Marie believes God had aligned everything so that she would become a Christian during that Alpha course because she had seven “amazing women” in her discussion group who “just embraced me and answered my questions and never judged me for asking and going ‘what?’’’

It was the love of Jesus that enthralled and captivated Marie, cutting through her shell of hostility. She found it amazing that Jesus loved her, even though he knew everything about her.

“I learnt about this most loving God, this person who would have died for me if I was the only one that sinned. And it was like, ‘whoah, this just blows my mind.’”

When it came time to pray a prayer of repentance and faith, Marie’s heart took flight like a helium-filled balloon.

“When I took that step of going ‘yes, I give myself to Jesus, my life is for you to do what you wish, and just please forgive me for my sins and help me forgive those who’ve done things against me’ – and when we had this beautiful prayer, the only way I could describe it was just this helium-filled balloon just floating.

“When I got in the car, honestly, I felt like my head was hitting the ceiling of the car. Oh, I need to be in a convertible so I can just float up to heaven! It was just the most glorious feeling.”

Marie Davis, centre David Mason

Anyone who knew Marie before she took that Alpha course in May 2017 is amazed at her transformation and how she tells everyone she meets about Jesus.

“I just can’t wait to tell everybody! I’m standing in the line at the grocery store and start up a conversation! I didn’t realise that I would feel that way – it’s just so exciting!”

For more than two years, Marie prayed about whether to be baptised, believing that she should wait for a sign from God to “step into the waters of baptism”.

Finally, on Father’s Day this year, she heard a talk by guest speaker Jason Elsmore, who wrote the book Jesus the Bloke.

“He talked about how Jesus didn’t say ‘I want you to do what I do, and you’ve got to do this and you’ve got to do that to come and follow me,’ he just said those three simple words: ‘come, follow me.’ And it was like ‘that’s my sign.’ It’s that obedience and it’s that outward showing of ‘yes, I will follow you’. I was thinking it was going to be a big lightning bolt – now you need to go and get baptised – but it was just that simple phrase. And I went ‘this is it.’ So I spoke to the pastor on the Monday, and then I got baptised on the following Sunday!

“And I must admit, since getting baptised, I’m still floating. And people say ‘oh, my goodness, you still have that look’ and I say ‘I know, I’m still floating! You have to tie me down or I’ll float away!’”

“I said, ‘Dad, you won’t believe it, I’ve just been learning about the most amazing God’, and I told him all about it.'” – Marie Davis

There are two wonderful ripples that have rolled through Marie’s life through doing the Alpha course.

“My dad wasn’t a Christian, but once I went to this Alpha course and I was blown away by what Jesus did, I went to my dad after the course and said, ‘Dad, you won’t believe it, I’ve just been learning about the most amazing God’, and I told him all about it.”

Marie’s father started going to her church, did the next Alpha course and, at age 80, gave his life to Jesus.

“His faith is so strong – and it’s from my friend bringing me and then me talking to my dad. It’s that ripple effect. I never thought I would be a Christian, but look at us both, up the front, singing, hands up, praising God every Sunday.”

Through meeting a woman called Emma at the Alpha course, Marie gained the courage to change her career from medical administration to being a teacher’s aide, for a third of the income but much greater job satisfaction.

“I’m working full-time as an Education Assistant at a Christian school where we celebrate the love and grace of Jesus. How blessed am I? God knew I needed someone to give me the courage to step out and change careers, and he sent Emma. She is so special to me and I thank God for sending her into my life. I love my job. The riches I receive in serving God’s children is far richer than the money in my old job,” she says.

“When I think of how that all came about, doing my study and getting a position in a beautiful Christian school, it’s like every day is just building a firm foundation for my Christianity and my purpose in life.”