Hey everyone, I’m Jovi and it is a blessing to share with you about God’s work in my life. I was born and raised in a non-Christian family; and as a kid, I had always heard about Jesus but never really thought too much about who He was. When my sister became a Christian, my family became quite broken. I developed deep trauma over the constant fights that I would hear while my family thought I was asleep. Shortly after, my parents began to tell me daily to never become like my sister. They wanted me to stay away from Christians and never believe them as they are bad influences who would trick people into their schemes. Out of a fear of angering my dad, I even made promises that I would never step foot into a church. However, all this left me hurt and traumatised.
I always wondered where I stood between my sister, this Jesus she loves so much and my very own parents whom I knew should listen to. My sister Juliana is 10 years older than me and she played the role of a protector while I was growing up. At first, all the hurt in my family caused me to develop a great anger and hatred towards my parents, putting all blame towards them. I never wanted to be home and I couldn’t go by a day without yelling or bursting out in anger when I was at home. As I grew up, I saw that my sister actually never stopped being loving and forgiving to my parents which further fuelled my curiosity. Over high school, I also developed depression and anxiety which was later diagnosed as clinically severe. I kept trying to find purpose or motivation to live but was always let down by anything I tried or the people I relied on.
Eventually, in Year 12, just so I wouldn’t have to be home alone with my parents on Good Friday, I asked my sister to take me with her to church discreetly. I lied to my parents, telling them that I would be hanging out with my friends. Honestly I didn’t really care about what I was listening to. I was just glad to be away from home.
On that night, someone gave a presentation about all the various religions there are. This is when I first found out that in Christianity you don’t have to work for your salvation! If we were so perfect, why would we need any saving right? It turns out that we are all really bad people. All this time, I thought I was pretty good but I have done my fair share of really bad things. Downplaying them doesn’t make me a better person, I’m just deceiving myself to make myself feel better. No matter how hard we try to be perfect, we just can’t! It’s so natural for us to be sin as sin is rejecting God and living life our own way.
Thankfully, we can be saved because Jesus lived that perfect life in our place. He took the burden of all our sins past, present and future with Him and died with them on the cross. Because of what He has done, we’re forgiven by God and able to have a relationship with Him! This was all crazy news to me and it all sounded too good to be true.
I told my sister that learning all this was very interesting, however I wouldn’t pursue finding out more until the next year. I was wishfully thinking that once I’m in university, I would have more freedom and it would be fine for me to go to church to check it out!
By God’s grace, my plan of checking out church was brought way closer than I thought. There was this Sunday where I was out with friends, goofing around as high schoolers do. I wanted a ride home that day and asked my sister for one. She told me to meet her at GracePoint church. So I walked into the hall where people were just finishing up their dinner. I awkwardly sat down at a random table and was like “Hey I’m Juliana’s sister and I’m waiting for her here”. A Christian friend from Gracepoint who I knew from before came up to me and invited me to join them next week. My first response was “Yeah nooo, I’m okay thanks”. But right before I left, they asked me again! This time I was like “Yeah, okay! I mean, it’s not like I was going to be studying for my HSC”. So I rocked up that coming Sunday! That day, the sermon made no sense and I was like “What is this gibberish this guy is talking about” but 3 weeks later, I was crying. Someone had asked in QnA, “How do I love someone that I find hard to love?” For me, that person was my parents and I was deeply moved to know that even as we are hurt by people, we can still forgive them because God forgives us first.
As I learnt about who God is, His gracious love for us all and that He is love! In Christ, I found out what true forgiveness is and God filled me with so much love and joy that I began to understand why and how my sister could be so loving and forgiving to my parents.
Becoming a Christian didn’t mean that all my problems and questions were solved though. Even to this day, I still battle with depression and anxiety. However, I now have a reason to live and if it was not for Jesus, I would probably not be here right now. Jesus says that whoever goes to Him he will never reject. He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. I tried to find my security in people, relationships, work, money, approval and many weird things. You name it, I’ve tried it. Finding purpose in anything but God will always disappoint. The one thing in my life that has never changed, the one person I can stand firm in has been and always will be God.
Now I live a life depending on Christ. He gives me strength, love and life. He gives me the courage to love and forgive others. So now I’m asking you all, my fellow brothers and sisters to continue to walk on this journey with me. To my dear friends and family who don’t follow Jesus, my hope is that you might. My hope and prayer is that you would come to know how good it is to follow Him!