My upbringing wasn’t what you would call a ‘great upbringing’ by far. I was 13 when I was kicked out of home.
I was always told I’d get nowhere in life and amount to nothing, and there were factors in my life that played a big part of it. For example, I did well while in school but always got told that others were better than me.
Things had to get worse, I guess, before they got better. Out on the streets at 13—sniffing glue, drinking alcohol, smoking drugs. Everyone around me was doing it, and I needed to fit in and it made me feel better.
I overdosed a few times. There was even one time I was deemed to be clinically dead, when my heart stopped and I stopped breathing. There was a time when I was sniffing and I thought I was getting carried away by demons, and when I came to, a few of my mates were holding on to me. I ended up in gangs (two times)—being part of something still meant something to me.
No matter where I was or what I was doing, violence followed. I put the fear into many lives that crossed my path. But looking back, it was me who was fearful. Satan had a hold on me for such a long time; I didn’t know what else to do.
Then something wonderful happened. I found God—or God found me! At the time, my son and I were living with a Christian couple and their children. They went to church regularly, never missing a Sunday. They invited me to go, but I just said, ‘That’s not me, no way.’ I had problems to sort out and better things to do than to go to church. That’s what I thought anyway. Visiting my mates or just staying home and watching TV was fine for me.
Then, one day when I was home trying to watch a movie, I felt a rush of warmth come over my whole body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I felt a happiness I’d never known before, a joy that made me weep.
I felt so good, it was like being high all over again, but without the drugs or anything else. A massive burden was taken from me and a real deep peace given to me in its place. It was as if all my sins were washed away and the darkness of my life was turned to light.
From searching in all the wrong places for somewhere to belong, I now truly belonged to a real family—God’s family.
By Robin Huriwai (abridged from War Cry, 16 June 2012, p9)
Robin is part of the church family at The Salvation Army’s Hornby Community Ministries