Blessing Mlambo experienced deep depression after leaving her home in Zimbabwe, but when she attempted to take her own life, God showed that he knew her by name.
I was raised in Zimbabwe and went to a Salvation Army school. I initially struggled with a father-based religion. My father had sixteen wives, and he was quite abusive—I am completely deaf in one ear because of a beating. I enrolled and got involved with The Salvation Army after graduation, because it was what my school friends were doing. It was only in my late twenties after a personal encounter with Christ, that it took. I had such a vibrant prayer life. I would pass someone in the street and feel the spirit say, ‘pray for that person’, even if I didn’t know their name.
Because of the troubles in Zimbabwe, my husband and I decided to come to New Zealand with our four youngest kids. We were one of only two black families in Greymouth. People were not unkind, but I think because they are worried about offending you, they stay away. It’s an oxymoron, but I felt invisible, yet sticking out like a sore thumb. I became very depressed—I couldn’t get up, couldn’t bathe myself, I slept for hours and would weep all day. I couldn’t pray anymore—it felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling.
I was walking through town and saw the Salvation Army crest. It was something familiar from home. I went in mid-service and met the Corps Officers, Michael and Sharryn. It was okay, but I left soon after. I was so depressed. All I could think was, ‘Lord, you have abandoned me’. Six weeks later I tried to take my own life. Now that I am studying nursing, I know that the number of pills I took should have killed me. By the grace of God, I just got horribly sick. I was disappointed at the time and decided to make a second attempt two weeks later.
I went for a walk one last time, and ended up outside the Greymouth Corps. I said to the Lord, ‘Show me a sign that you know me by name’. All these weeks later, four people each greeted me by name as I walked in. They were so pleased to see me. It was Christmas time, and they played the YouTube video Christmas According to Kids. For the first time in months, I laughed until tears came down my face. At the end of the service, Michael asked if he could give me a hug. That’s my love language—my kids call me Mama Hugs. As I left, I threw away the pills and cried all the way home.
The following day, I went to the hospital. The nurses sat with me and listened as I wept. They explained that I was feeling the grief of displacement. Because I couldn’t afford to get the help I needed, they called me every day. The GP put me on antidepressants. Suddenly, I could sleep. Suddenly, there was hope. Sharryn visited me at home. I broke down and shared my story. Right then, Sharryn told me that I was her daughter. That’s why I call her Mum now.
I re-enrolled as a soldier—my paperwork from Zimbabwe had been lost—and I’ve moved to Christchurch to study nursing. Sharryn introduced me to her friends there, and they’ve become my family. When I got sick, my other mum, Grace, called to check up on me, paid for my doctor’s appointment and medication, and ensured I had cooked food for the week. My mother died when I was very young, but the Lord has always provided older women to meet my deepest needs. One of my mums, Heather, clean gave me a car—if that isn’t the Lord, I don’t know what is.