Michaela has been a valued Bible Society staff member for two years. Here, she shares her personal journey of faith…
I was born and raised into a family of hard workers on low incomes. My mother often went without to ensure that us kids had all we needed, and most of what we wanted. The three of us kids were all baptised into the Presbyterian Church, but it was more a formality than a spiritual event, and our family’s faith walk was limited to a couple of church visits.
We were loved very much by our parents, but from a young age I yearned for more. I recall watching television with my mum one Saturday night, which consisted of a movie, and at 8pm, Lotto. Mum and Dad were really struggling financially at the time, and I remember praying, “God, if you let my Mum win Lotto, I will always believe in you.”
Sure enough, the prayers of this ten year old were answered and my Mum won Lotto! It was 6th division, probably about $30, but I was ecstatic.
I had never really thought about it until now, but I guess that’s where my relationship with God began. I have always kept this promise to God, and have always been a believer, but I got caught up in this earthly realm.
At 12 years old I began smoking cigarettes, had my first real kiss, and by 13 I was drinking alcohol at weekends. By forth form, I was wagging school every other day, and was just ‘plan old trouble’. I felt invincible and being a larger tough kid, people were scared of me and that gave me permission to intimidate anyone who stood in my way. My parents were losing control and I was becoming a lost cause.
It was my Father who intervened. My Father and his 12 brothers and sisters were raised in a strict Māori Catholic household. I was wagging school one day (something that I had promised Dad I would stop) and he drove past in his van, swerved around and opened the door. I knew I was in serious trouble.
He pulled me out of school and became my boss. He was a mechanic and I was his gofer. I did correspondence and went to a few select classes at school, where my dad would drop me and then pick me up. I think I was ready for this to happen, and slowly but surely I was heading down a much better path. I ended up gaining school certificate and then sixth form certificate.
School was never something I excelled at, and after 6th form I left. I worked a few jobs here and there, some management positions, some labouring work.
Then at 19 I felt like all of my dreams had come true when I meet Marshall.
He was tall, thin and handsome and completely out of my league, but he liked me and I liked him. I guess it was love at first sight. He and I had such a passionate relationship, but both of us struggled with addiction and were binge drinkers.
A marriage and three kids later, we were drinking a lot less, but when we did drink we were hurting each other with our actions. I was feeling sick of being sick, and I felt an incredibly strong pull from God.
Our youngest child was only a few months old when a friend popped round for a cuppa. Her number plate read “TO GOD” so it was no secret that she was Christian. I shared with her that I was being discipled by the Lord himself, but I wasn’t sure what to do.
She apologised for not sharing the Lord with me, and later decided to engage young Mums to study their lives and how it all fits into God’s plan.
I loved these classes, we were able to share about what we did, and how the Biblical principles would make family life so much better. The lesson that stood out the most to me was about submitting to your husband. I found it fascinating that the act of submission was about so much more than enabling my husband to lead our family. It was about me trusting in God and submitting to Gods plans for me. I still find this principle the most challenging, but I do try.
I took on a job at a local church and began attending that same church. I learned more about Jesus and the importance of the New Testament’s promise. I began reading the Bible more often, and certain passages spoke to me. The main one and the one I always recite when feeling crappy is Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” There is so much wisdom and beauty to be found in the Psalms, and this verse is no exception. It affirms to me that irrespective of what is happening in my life, God made this day for my enjoyment so I must see the good in everyday.
I began to lead a much better life in partnership with the Most High and gracious God who sacrificed his Son, so that my sins would be forgiven. I retook my baptismal vow and was confirmed by Archbishop Phillip in 2014. I was gifted a pounamu cross (my very first) from my close friend and Reverend of the Church, which is my most prized possession.
In 2015 I began thinking that I had so much more to offer and began seeking full time employment. One of the first jobs that came up was at Bible Society. I applied and prayed that they would see my potential so that I would be able to continue my spiritual journey. They did, and here I am today involved in the Well Good Christmas campaign, which has by far been my favourite part of the job.
Sharing with people the real Christmas story is great, but this book offers so much more. To people who have never encountered the Bible, it’s a simple and effective summary. So I prayed since the beginning of this initiative that those receiving these books will be inspired to dive deeper into the story of Jesus, and to lead a better life. Not only for themselves, but for their tamariki too!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16(NKJV)