Everything was black. The banging started again. I tried to get up again but felt paralyzed and couldn’t move a muscle. The banging again this time I hear a door open. I still can’t see but men’s voices are deciding my fate. “What are we going to do with her?” “Just get her out of here”
I open my eyes. I don’t know where I am. My body is shaking and I’m being sick. I can’t move. I hear men’s voices in another room. I open my mouth to shout for help but nothing comes out. I’m sick again and I can’t move my head. The sick covers my face. It’s black again.
The next morning I wake up to the smell of sick and no recollection of the night before. I only remember drinking three vodkas. I know one of them must have been spiked with drugs. I’m scared, ashamed and feeling lonely as I realise I’m not in control of my life. ‘Fate’ is in control. I gather up the sick covered bedding and sneak out the staff quarters of the hostel. I quickly bundle the bedding into a washer and run to make a phone call.
“Its me. Can you come and get me. I want my life to change.”
3 months earlier, I could hardly contain my excitement. Finally, the day had arrived. I was heading off to Australia for the year of a lifetime. A bubbling feeling inside told me my life was about to be changed. If only I knew how much! I’d been looking for change for a long time. I tried everything. New jobs, new hairstyles, new friends, new boyfriends, new clubs and pubs, new exotic drinks. My life followed spur of the moment excitement. It was always momentary excitement though. Every few months I would sink into a deep low for a few days as the familiar feeling of emptiness washed over me. My close friends couldn’t even console me. Something was missing from my life. In those moments and only in those moments, I would ask the same question “If there is a God, where the hell are you?” My question was answered in Australia.
The first six weeks of my journey was spent mainly in Surfers Paradise eating out, clubbing by night, pubbing by day, smoking 3 times my usual, drinking off the scale and shopping in between times.
When I wasn’t spending money, I was visiting family in Brisbane. My friend and I stayed with them for a week when we first arrived. I still remember catching my friends eye across the dinner table and having an inward snigger as we were asked to hold hands while my Uncle said ‘Grace’. I couldn’t believe my mad fun-lovin Aunty had went all Holy Joe! She talked about Jesus A LOT! I listened because I love her but there were moments when my head was bursting and I had to say please can we stop talking about Jesus. It was all a bit unreal and random to me. If Jesus was God then why would He leave us here and if He was still alive, where the heck was He? Hiding?? It was time to head to Surfers Paradise.
Two thousand pounds and a few weeks later, I was tomato packing in some random place, desperately trying to raise some cash to go travelling. My efforts lasted less than a day as I picked out rotten tomatoes, forcing myself not to throw them at the bitch from hell supervising us. This was no holiday! I stormed out half way through the day. My friend and I parted ways as he headed back to Surfers and I re-joined my family in Brisbane.
My family were wonderful to me and I was well looked after as I tried to find some work. I couldn’t get a job and had no money to go anywhere. I listened day after day to Jesus talk. I decided to take an interest. It was a small price to pay for their love and security. I started asking questions and even agreed to go to church with them. I was in for a surprise!
We arrived at this huge campus filled with different shaped buildings and lots of greenery. I was given the grand tour: the swimming pool, the nursery, the primary school, the high school, the college, the library, the youth facility. My jaw dropped as we approached the main church building. I suddenly felt very small and intimidated as we stepped into the 2000 seater auditorium that was church. I hid behind my Aunt until we found a seat. A full-on band got up on stage; the drums kicked in and the music rocked the place. It was like a concert! People were jumping and singing at the top of their voices. My memory of church was a bunch of old folks competing to see who could sing their hymns in the highest pitch. What was this place??
When the music stopped a young guy was invited to come and share his story. He was a surfer type, handsome and rugged, so he got my full attention! He talked about how Jesus had changed his life and how he now had a relationship with God through Jesus. In my head it actually made sense; God’s holy, we’re not so we can’t join Him in heaven. Jesus is perfect, we’re not so Jesus died to take the punishment for all our wrongs. He paid the price and we get a clean slate. I understood it in my head but try telling my heart this stuff was real. As a kid my Bible was a cool storybook that sat on the same shelf as my Fairy Stories.
As we left church, my Aunt asked what I thought. All I could say was ‘interesting!’. Really, I was desperate to get away from that place before someone asked me about Jesus. I fled the next week to Surfers Paradise.
I clearly remember sitting in the hostel bar at 10am in my fluffy duck pyjamas ordering a Vodka and Raspberry. As I sat there, I was suddenly aware of my loneliness. The staff were lovely and I met other backpackers who were friendly too, but I couldn’t shake the inner loneliness.
The next day I was making that phone call.
“Its me. Can you come and get me. I want my life to change.”
My family came to the rescue within a couple of hours no questions asked. They didn’t even have to ask me to go to church. I went willingly, searching for answers. I needed to know if this Jesus thing was for real.
As I sat in church listening to the pastor speak, I literally felt the head knowledge about Jesus fill my heart. I fought it and argued with myself that it was all a lot of nonsense but through my head flashed images of people who had hurt me, people I had hurt, shameful things I had done and then I saw Jesus in my mind on that cross, bruised and bloody, beaten beyond recognition, battered and lifeless. I felt a warmth surround my heart as I realised Jesus did that just as much for me as anyone else in that church. It felt like someone’s hands were squeezing my heart and the tears began to flow and flow and flow. I felt pain, hurt and loneliness leave my heart as it was replaced with a love that is indescribable and unlike any love I have ever experienced. On that day, 2nd September 2000, my question was answered God is right here, I just had to let Him into my heart and my life.
My life has been utterly transformed. Jesus is as real as you and me. He can be found when you look. I promise you won’t have to look far. He’s not just in Oz!
Here’s a great place to come and look for him www.destiny-church.com