When I was thirteen, I was sexually abused

When I was thirteen, I was sexually abused. I know I am not alone in saying that. I’ve met so many people who have experienced this for themselves, some much younger than I was. Like so many others, as a way to survive, I put up walls around my life to protect myself from ever being in a position of vulnerability again. These walls kept me safe but they also kept me isolated.

Sure I had friends, but I never allowed anyone close enough to penetrate the barriers I had put up around my heart. No one saw the ‘real’ me. Instead, they saw the facade I had created, and all the while inside I felt so alone. Although I had been the victim, it felt like I was the one who ended up serving time in a prison cell.

Even going to church didn’t really seem to help. I sang the songs, listened to the sermons and even felt the ‘spirit’ but the freedom I so desperately wanted to experience always felt just out of reach. Then I met Peter Campbell.

He was someone I wrote about in my book ‘You Are Never Alone.’ Peter and his wife Jan moved to Sydney in the early 1990’s and became my pastors. He wasn’t the sort of preacher who could set the world on fire through his preaching, but he knew how to tell a story that kept you on the edge of your seat. He had so many stories, especially from his days farming in New Zealand, which always left me wanting to hear more. He had a simple faith. His strengths were his genuine love for people, his joyful spirit and his ability to encourage people to trust God even when things seemed bleak. He took me under his wing and became more than just my pastor. He was my mentor, my spiritual dad and my friend.

He was someone who I knew would be there, not just to listen but also to speak the truth when it was needed. Little by little, he helped me take down the barrier that I had created and helped free the teenage boy who had been locked away inside.

There is a story in scripture about a time when Jesus was speaking in a house, and it was jam-packed. Some men arrived carrying a man who was paralyzed. Undaunted by the size of the crowd, they climbed onto the roof, cut a hole in the ceiling and lowered their companion down right in front of Jesus. The man experienced freedom that day because of his four companions. Do you have people like that in your life?

People you can lean on when times are tough? People who have the strength to carry you somewhere when you can’t seem to stand by yourself? People who aren’t put off by what they see but push through the crowds and the circumstances. These are people who don’t claim to have all the answers but who understand that the freedom you long for can only be found in the presence of Jesus. And they do whatever it takes to get you there. Peter was one of these people for me.

I have learned that we are not designed to do life alone or in isolation. We are at our best when we have the right people close by. My own experience tells me that people like this don’t just appear on the scene to save the day. We need to be brave enough to stretch out our hand and ask for help. And then be willing to let them in.

While he was preaching God’s word to them,  four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Mark 2:2-4 (NLT)


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