It felt like there was no colour in my world. I felt like there was no life. It was just dead and it was empty, and that was my reality for so long.
When I was fourteen, my parents broke up. I’d got home late one night. I'd snuck in and my dad just started hitting me. I didn't know what to do with that, really. I remember waking up the next day and he was gone. I never saw him for about nine years after that.
I had started taking drugs. I'd started getting into marijuana and just hanging out with, I suppose what you'd say, the wrong crowd. I had a good friend who was prospecting for a gang in Invercargill. It was a white supremacist gang. And so I soon discovered other drugs. I got into LSD at fourteen. I guess I found a family. I was looking for acceptance, looking for love.
I suppose I was quite spiritual. I used to read tarot cards. My family had generations of tarot card readers. So I knew there was a spiritual realm. I knew I could see different things that other people couldn't see. And I loved that. I guess I looked for the darkness. I looked for those encounters and those moments that just made me feel different.
The age of eighteen was probably one of the worst years for me. My grandparents died. I was really close to both of them and they died within three months of each other. It felt like things were just falling apart. I'd never been one to acknowledge God but I remember standing in the rain one night when my grandad died, screaming. There was thunder and lightning and I just thought, “God why? If there's a God, why didn't you take me? You know I don't wanna be here.”
I'd wake up in the morning and I'd cry because I was awake and I was alive. And I thought, “I don't want to be here.” It seemed to happen every morning, it was so hard to get out of bed. It probably happened for a few months when I realised something was actually wrong. It was hard to admit it, but I went and got help. I started seeing some counselors and some psychiatrists. I was diagnosed with manic depression and medicated.
I went to a gentleman's club in Queenstown and offered to work as a stripper. I'd had some dance experience, so got a job quite quickly with them. And while it seemed like kind of an empowering job because I had a bouncer with me, and sometimes they'd fly me places, I actually just developed a real hate for men. I hated them. I hated the way they looked at me, the way they treated me. And I started treating people really badly. I met a man in a bar, as I did quite frequently, and pretty much the next day he moved in. His dad was quite high up in Black Power and within a week he'd given me a car to use. He gave me a job and I was selling drugs for him.
My long-term neighbours had started going to church. Not just one or two of them but their whole family and their parents. I thought that was really weird. They kept asking me to come to church, week after week. And in the end, I went. I didn't really understand what was happening but everyone looked really happy. And I wasn't sure why. The man at church asked people, “Do you want to give your life to Jesus?” And I thought, “Why not? I've tried everything else.” I came forward and I accepted Jesus into my life.
Nothing changed immediately. I remember the first couple of weeks telling all my friends and family and they were like, "Oh, it's just a phase" or "Oh it's a cult, you don't want to be into that sort of stuff.” And people were just a bit negative about it. So I remember praying one night and I said, “God if you're real and You can really hear me. I want the pastor of this church to say something to me on Sunday.” I was at the Invercargill Christian Centre and the pastor hadn't been there for about four weeks. He'd been away on leave, so it was his first service back and he kept looking at me as he preached. And then at the end of the service, he said, “All night God has been highlighting you. It's like everyone's in black and white and you're in colour. And God's just wanting you to know that He loves you.” I remember just crying and crying, saying, “Oh, He's real.”
About a month after that, I got baptized. The night before I got baptized was the last time I took drugs. I'd been heavily addicted to drugs for ten years, even while going to church. But I got baptized and it was taken from me in a moment. It was like the addiction was completely gone. I came out of the water completely free from that addiction. It felt like the colour came back. It's like God rescued me. He reached into this awful darkness where I'd been for so long and all of a sudden I could see the light. I felt so incredibly free. I felt unstoppable.
If you're feeling trapped or isolated or alone, I know what that's like. I've journeyed through that for so long. You can't see any hope, you can't see any light. If you're lost or you're alone or you've got nothing left, give your life to God and just see what He can do. Because He changes everything in a moment.