It was September 2005 – I can’t remember the date, ‘cause it wasn’t as important as what had happened to me – when a few weeks after I started a new job alongside my sister, a co-worker (who later became a good friend), shared the gospel with me. After I got over my self-righteous, overly religious Catholic ideologies and mindsets, I remember asking Jesus to be the Lord and Saviour of life. The conclusion to follow Christ happened within the four walls of my ‘hip-hop postered walls’. I can’t recall having an “altar call” experience to seal my decision in the Lord until about a month later, after having gone to see a theatrical production titled ‘Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames’ at Malvern Christian Assembly, which is now my home church. But prior to this moment that changed the course of my life, I lived completely differently and my story went like this…
I grew up in a strong Roman Catholic household of very strict cultural views and rigid behaviours. My dad called the shots around the house; it was his way or the highway. My mum was the rock who kept the peace flowing in our home. I was the oldest and had a younger sister; we weren’t the biggest fans of each other growing up. Having witnessed certain life events as a child, I was forced to grow up by the time I was about 8 years old. Though my parents did the best they could to provide for my sister and me, we weren’t financially well-off while growing up. Mom wasn’t physically capable of working all the time due to health reasons, and on most days, we barely made it on my dad’s income alone.
We ended up living in assisted housing for years, surrounded by drugs, gang violence and robbery – to name a few things. My sister and I wore clothes from thrift stores, didn’t have cable, and rarely went outdoors to play. Most of all, I dreaded going to school because of all the bullying and torment I went through due to my ethnicity. Sri Lankan kids weren’t common in my school, and I was picked on every day. The minute I stepped into high school, I refused to tell anyone my real cultural background. So as a result, I lied about where I was from. I hung out with the West Indian kids in high school and played it off for as long as I could. I eventually got involved with the wrong crowd, started skipping school to drink and smoke weed and became a promiscuous teenage girl. I was looking for acceptance in all the wrong places because I wasn’t getting it at home.
I was filled with bitterness and anger that I would take it out on anyone I didn’t like. Because I didn’t have a good relationship with my dad, I rebelled so much that I even dated a guy who was heavily involved in gang-related activities. I also became involved with the gang to the point where he ended up holding a gun to my head. However, that relationship eventually ended – thank God; otherwise I might have ended up left for dead. I met someone else and after three years with that one, it ended as a result of abuse as well.
I eventually graduated high school got into university – which, if you ask my parents, was a miracle in itself – and started the pursuit to change my life. However, first year of university was rough. I dealt with a lot of depression and isolation. In search for meaning, I took a world religions class with the realization that there had to be more to life. Interestingly, God has always been knocking at my heart’s door from the time I was very young. There isn’t enough time here to explain all the times He tried to get my attention. But one thing is for sure: I’m so glad He continued to pursue me even when I turned a blind eye.
It was in my second year of university that my life changed. Even after I chose to live for Jesus, I faced much opposition. My sister, Briana, also got saved shortly after me. We both had to lie to go to church out of fear of our dad who was strongly against ‘changing religions’. But after two years, he eventually found out, and all hell broke loose. My sister and I were both kicked out of our house for a week and stayed at an uncle’s house. When my sister and I eventually moved back, my dad was so hurt and he refused to speak to us for months. The situation at home was very hostile and hard that it seemed impossible for it to turn around for the good. Things got really bad before they got better. But through it all, I faced every hardship with Jesus and, if I had to go through it all for Him again, I would. I say this because I know what life was like before Jesus. I was miserable, I had no purpose, I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going. I had no firm foundation or identity. To be honest, I was just going through the motions and paying lip service at Sunday mass. I played ‘church’ on Sundays like most people do and lived the way I wanted the rest of the week, selfishly and not caring about life itself.
But when I chose to live for Jesus it was like someone turned the lights on. For so long, I was living in the dark; my eyes were veiled and I thought about only ‘living in the moment’. But Jesus gave me life, hope and purpose; one that I never knew I had before Him. Instead of thinking God was so far away, I began to have a personal relationship with Him and made Him the centre of my life. My need for Jesus taught me to rely on Him for everything. He literally transformed the way that I think and view life. He has helped me to forgive those who have hurt me; Jesus restored my broken relationship with my dad; Jesus has helped me breakthrough my addictions, my anger, bitterness, depression, fear, rejection and pride. I know life is full of problems, but also know that there is a solution and I have found that in none other than Jesus Himself. Today, I’m married to the love of my life and we have one son, Israel. I continue to love and serve Jesus with my family. My desire now is to shine this light that dwells in me to those who sit in darkness and to set captives free. I want people to discover that Jesus came for all of humanity and not a select few. I can share countless testimonies of what the Lord has done for me; but for now I’ll leave you with this: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15), because life without Jesus is not worth living at all!