My life was not worth living before Ibecame a Christian. I used to phone the taxi rank just to hear another voice. I was so lonely I wanted to die, but I had a daughter so I couldn’t commit suicide. I was abused sexually as a child, and wanted to die back then, but when I was eighteen I became engaged to be married.
I was so happy to have found the love of my life. But just before we were due to get married, my fiancé drowned. I thought my life was over. I left home in Switzerland and came to England. At that time, I really felt I had died – I didn’t care any more what happened to me.
My first day in England I met a man. I didn’t know he was a professional jewel thief, that he was married, or that he had just been released from prison. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. We ended up getting married, but were very unhappy. I tried to commit suicide by cutting my wrists.
I experimented with drugs and drank too much. Things went from bad to worse. When there was a knock at the door I never knew whether it was the debt collectors, the police coming to arrest my husband – or someone from the criminal world coming to shoot off his legs. Eventually, I left him.
I was so lonely and so desperate. I couldn’t go back home to Switzerland because by then I had a daughter and didn’t want to expose her to the sexual abuse that I had suffered there. With a child to support, I started shoplifting.
I was smoking forty cigarettes a day and had such bad asthma that I spent most of my summers in hospital. They said I would be a cripple by the time I was thirty. I couldn’t walk the length of a room because I couldn’t breathe.
Then, lying on the floor one day, I said, ‘God, if you exist, there’s got to be more to life than this – come and take my life over’.
Shortly after this, the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door and told me about God. Some time later the Mormons also visited. But eventually, some real Christians came. They told me that God forgives sins and can heal your life.
I thought that was fantastic – but because my father had sold my soul to the devil when I was a child, I kept thinking that God could do nothing for me. I was too much of a sinner and, anyway, I belonged to the devil.
A battle raged within my heart. Eventually, I knelt down, confessed all my sins to God, and went to bed.
The next morning, I was filled with the most incredible joy. I was still a single mum in a one-bedroom flat. I was still very ill. But for the first time in 28 years I felt my burden of guilt and shame and dirt had been lifted off me.
I didn’t know what was happening, but I started dancing around the room and shouting, ‘God loves me’. God came so close to me and I knew I was clean in his sight. I went out into the street asking people, ‘do you know that Jesus can save?’
Someone gave me a Bible and I read that if you are in Christ you are a ‘new creature’, old things have passed away. So, I thought, ‘If I’m in Christ, I won’t need tranquillisers any more’. I flushed them down the toilet. I got up the next morning and never had a moment’s breathing trouble again. This year I am planning to run the marathon!
However, I was still addicted to cigarettes. I tried all sorts of things but couldn’t stop. My mum had just sent me 400 cigarettes in a packet for Christmas. I prayed and asked God to help me give up.
He answered my prayer and I never smoked another cigarette. I had no withdrawal symptoms – nothing. I didn’t even need the cigarettes under the Christmas tree.
But I still had a lot of problems to sort through. I said to God, ‘Lord, you know I would do anything for you, but please don’t ask me to forgive the person who sexually abused me’. But some months later, I felt the Lord was prompting me, ‘it is time to forgive’. It was very hard, but God really changed my heart.
That was when my service for Christ really came alive. God is so amazing. That was 25 years ago, when my daughter was 7 or 8. She became a Christian shortly after.
Today I am seeking to serve God, both as a handicapped support worker and in helping persecuted Christians across the world.