Growing up in an abusive family, Diana Best-Hutchison felt lost. She turned to drugs as an escape, and even began dealing. But now she knows that God was there all along, waiting to rescue his lost child. Today, she has been found.
I was born in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands. My father was from Australia and met my mum when he was in the Solomons working as a logging truck driver—he had two children already, and my mother also had an older son. We all moved to Oz with him, but when I was two-years-old my parents separated. He had met another woman, also from the Solomons. I moved in with them in Australia, while my mum moved to Upper Hutt. From then on, I hardly ever saw my mother.
My step-mother taunted me, saying that my dad was not my real father. My dad worked away a lot, and my step-mother was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive. I remember trying to hide my dad’s keys so he couldn’t go away.
At school, I was teased for being black—the kids taunted me and made fun of me. So I didn’t feel safe at home, or at school.
We moved from Australia to the Hawke’s Bay. But when I was 12, my dad and step-mother separated. My dad blamed me for their break-up. He became very depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. He told me I had to get a job to help pay the bills, so at the age of 13, I began working at Glassons.
I was good at school, and got into Napier Girls’ School due to my sporting ability. But at home, I cooked, cleaned, paid the bills and kept the household going. I loved going to stay the night at my friends’ places, because I could be a ‘child’ again.
When I started to get my own money, I began drinking and getting piercings. I was doing well at school, but the rest of my life was spiralling out of control. By 15, I was smoking marijuana and getting tattoos. My first boyfriend was abusive—he took my money, and when I got pregnant he insisted I get an abortion. At the time I didn’t realise this was abuse, I thought it was love!
At 19, I had a serious car accident with another boyfriend—he was going 120km an hour in a 50km zone. Although my car was written off, we walked away with just a few scratches. I can only put it down to God’s protection.
I got more heavily into alcohol, and started a side-hussle dealing drugs. I was caught drink-driving, and was getting into trouble with the police. On the outside I looked like I was okay, but on the inside I was dying and afraid.
By this time I was back in contact with my mum. She asked me what I was going to do with my life, and without any shame or remorse I said, ‘stripping’. So I started working in the sex industry. I began using methamphetamine. I met another man and got pregnant with my oldest girl Isabella. I left stripping and we moved together back to Australia.
The only place we could afford was at a resort (which was actually cheaper than renting). It was there that I stumbled on a Gideon’s Bible. I remembered that my mother had once said to me, ‘If you ever feel alone and afraid in life, read the Bible and pray’. I randomly turned to the book of Matthew and started reading. As I read, I wept and wept. I got down on the cold, hard, wooden floor and gave my life over to Christ.
I asked God for three specific things: please send me a woman who can minister the Bible to me, help me get to a Baptist church, and give me transport to get there. Every night, while my baby Isabella and her father were asleep, I would quietly read the Bible and pray.
Two months later, I saw a woman sitting on a chair by the pool. I could tell she was reading a Bible—I took Isabella over to the pool area. She immediately looked me in the eye, and asked, ‘Do you know the Bible?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ It turned out she was living in the cabin next to ours. She said, ‘I want to check out the Baptist church’ and asked if I wanted to go with her.
I cried tears of joy.
In 2012, I was pregnant with our second child Serena, but I separated from their father. I moved back to New Zealand with the two girls and one suitcase, and we came to Upper Hutt because my mother lived there.
I started to make a life for myself. But one day I got a call from my sister saying that my father had passed away. I cried and numbed myself with pot and alcohol. I went to Australia for his funeral, and left my girls there with their father. Back home, I kept drinking and doing drugs. I wanted to die.
I had two people from The Salvation Army church come into the store I worked at. We struck up conversations about God. My friend and I decided to go along to a Sunday service, where Lieutenant Karl Foreman was speaking. At the end, he encouraged us to ‘give yourself at the mercy seat’. I went up the front and knelt, pouring out my burdens to God. I told my friend, ‘I want to change, I need God’.
I prayed to God that he would give me a husband and best friend. Not long after that, I met my husband Chip. Initially I said ‘no’ to him, because I wanted it to be me and God. But I knew he was ‘the one’. I got my girls back, and the four of us were together. We were married in November 2018, at The Salvation Army corps. We now have four children, including our youngest two Le Bron and Josiah.
I no longer wanted to rely on anything but God. In November, I became a soldier in The Salvation Army. What I now know is that God has been at work in me throughout my whole life—he has had his hands on me, protecting me at all times.
I feel like the ‘one sheep’ in the parable—Jesus left the 99 to find and rescue me! He knew me in my mother’s womb, and he knows my past, present and future.
I declare in Jesus’ name that I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, and a daughter of the Most High God. I know that he is breaking generational bonds and my children will know their mother as a Salvation Army soldier.
Through all my brokenness, God is putting me back together. He will do it again and again. I am being made whole in him.
By Diana Best-Hutchison (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 15 December 2018, p10-11. You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.