WASHED CLEAN

I was brought up in Ahipara; a little settlement nestled along the Ninety-Mile Beach in the far north of New Zealand. It is a delightful haven. It is here that I remember Jesus mentioned during cooking, cleaning, and going to Sunday School. I loved hearing the wonderful stories about Jesus. I remember being a happy child and singing "Jesus loves me, yes I know" all the way home.

I was seven years old and it took one family member of our community to turn my little world upside down. Molestation wasn't heard of in those days. I remember being frightened and being told not to tell anyone. I harboured fear inside me and soon became a very unhappy child. I stopped going to Sunday School, I even stopped thinking about Jesus, and I was too scared to tell anyone. I became a total mess.

A few years later I was taken to Auckland, the big city with so much to offer. I was a rebellious teenager and adapted to city life instantly. I took life by the tail, swung her around and went for it. My woes were to become many: thievery, alcohol, drugs, night life and many prison terms.

I lived like that for 25 years during which time I had a daughter whom I gave up for adoption. A family was found for her through the Social Welfare. I didn't know anything about this family, nor that they were Christians. All I knew was that I wanted my daughter to be brought up in a safe and happy environment, with much love, security and have real family values.

For the next 10 years I lived a life of guilt and destruction until I had another child, a son. Something happened inside me at this time. A motherly protection rose up in me and I determined to face up to my responsibility as a mother. I wanted to make up for what I hadn’t given my daughter.

With my son by my side, I went from one city to another throughout New Zealand looking for "something" to fill the ache inside me. I finally came home to Ahipara, the place of my childhood. My son was growing and I wanted him to have a sense of belonging, to know his roots and his family.

I was amazed to see Jesus working in my family. My cousin Jennifer and her husband Ben had given their hearts to the Lord and I was impressed by the transformation in their lives. I watched them for some time until one day Jennifer came to visit and shared Jesus with me.

I remember thinking, "Oh, here we go, this is it." Jennifer invited me to a Praise and Worship meeting two weeks later at their church, the Abundant Life Centre. It was a Friday night and I was squashed in the car with her and another couple with their children. Gospel songs blared from the car tape deck but they had no effect on me.

I gave my heart to the Lord that night - 1st August 1995. Benny Tan, the pastor, picked up his guitar and played "The Spirit is Falling" and all I remember was sobbing out rejections, pains, hurts of the past and everything else I had locked up inside my heart.

I was a different person when I went home, I felt free and wondrously happy and I remember wearing this huge smile on my face. Strangely enough, when we got back into the car, the same music that had no effect for me earlier had now taken on a whole new meaning. It was beautiful.

Oh how I praise our Lord Jesus Christ for cleansing me with his precious blood and setting me free. I thank God for showing me that I am a real woman. I thank God that my son has given his heart to the Lord and that he is a better person to himself and others.

I thank God for helping my daughter to find me. We are now corresponding and declaring our love to each other. I thank God for filling that empty gap I had for 25 years and that he has linked my children and me together. This is my awesome God.

Psalm 68:4-5 is special to me,

“Sing unto God, sing praises to His name...and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.”


ATAROA HADFIELD

Ahipara, Northland, New Zealand (Written 1999)

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