By Shelilah Read
My first memory of being alive is being sexually assaulted. My mother had mental health issues was unstable and took me to a Brothel and left me there. I was neglected when I was young. The police would pick me up on the streets. My older brother told me that at one point my mother was zoned out and he stopped the car from going over the cliff with us onboard. She would go from Vancouver to Calgary to Winnipeg, well pretty much all over the place. When I first got saved Minister Cawley was preaching about how they tried to kill Jesus and I can relate to that story (chuckle). I was in a foster home in Winnipeg for a week and I was abused again while my uncle was trying to get custody of me since I was a ward of the state. My aunt kept me because my grandmother would give them money so they agreed to keep me. That provided some stability for me.
I ended up staying with my Aunty and Uncle in Laurier in a wealthier part of the city. It was rough for me when I was young. I would go to school with no one to take care of me in the richest part of the city. Nobody knew what nationality my father was, my hair wasn’t combed nor was I kept clean. They had 5 kids (me included) so it was hard for them to take care of us. My aunt was very depressed. She didn’t want me. I was a very angry child. I was sexually assaulted several times and abuse in school and out of school. I experienced developmental delay and no one was breathing positive words into my life. My uncle was an alcoholic and he would beat me whenever he was drunk and he would say negative things to me.
I drowned myself in sports. I would play hockey, soccer and just about any sports I could play. When I started to understand that my family that raised me didn’t love me I started to smoke a lot of weed. Whenever they spoke to me it was so negative that it killed my self -esteem. At Seventeen I was able to get on student financing and I was able to continue to my schooling.
I was living on my own and friends moved in with me but we got kicked out for being too loud. By this I had started to attend church and I met the mother of one of my friends who asked his mother to take care of me. I lived with her awhile and heard her praying for me. I would start attending church and she would embrace me like a mother and showed me the love of God. I knew she cared about me.
The same Sis. took me to her house and she gave me some of her clothes because I had nothing to wear. I was coming to church in a mini skirt under my butt, I didn’t know anything about Jesus. I just knew there was some guy that died on the cross for me and I was told about Moses in a basket. I would still attend reggae party and I thought there was a little part of me that knew that there was a God. I think it came from a little red bible someone gave me. I would pray in my quiet time. I was sad, lonely, neglected and I didn’t have any parental support. My friends’ mom had a great impact on me because I was longing for a mothers love. She was kind to me and she mothered me a bit and I didn’t know how badly I needed it. I gained a lot of weight due to my depression. I was so empty inside. Living with her was enough to get me stable. Her house burnt down so I was on my own again. I moved 22 times in 2 years because I wasn’t stable.
I remember this convocation and Dr. Cawley was preaching. Someone came and took me to the altar and was prayed for. Something had happened, it was then that my mind began changing. Prior to this I would dress like a thug. It was not until the following year in February that I made up my mind to commit to the Lord. The Lord kept dealing with me each Sunday that I would go to church….sometimes while being “high.” It was a slow process. I kept going to prayer meeting. That helped me a whole lot.
I remember the first night that the Lord touched me. It was a Sunday evening and the whole service stopped. It was just everyone praying for me. I was so shocked because God stopped the service for me. I couldn’t believe that people cared like that. In that moment God did something for me. I was mean and rough but God did something for me.
I remember I didn’t want to give up pants. I remember I went to the retreat and they asked us to say something. I was tarrying for a long time. I didn’t know how to tarry for the Holy Spirit. But I remember the flow of the spirit because God was dealing with me. I would cry and swear because too much love was coming to me from the brethren and I didn’t know how to cope with it. I think God regulates my heart by allowing me to cry. The spirit of God would take over me.
This one time I messed up and I was honest with God. The Lord speaks English through my tongues.
That is how I know I have the gift of interpretation of tongues. It was through this process that He directs me. But God has kept me. I couldn’t read the bible or fast but I would cry and through that process he would speak to me about his mercy and his love. He would say “you have mercy” while I was speaking in tongues. There was so much stuff that God had to process out of me. He got a hold of my heart and cornered me and I couldn’t turn to the left or to the right. I thank God for my Pastor and Brother Noel and other Ministers that didn’t judge me but took the time to consistently talk to me and encourage me and prayed through things with me.
When I came to church I was a perfect testimony for God because of where He took me from. I wouldn’t stop talking about God and the impact that He has had on me. I told my friends about the change that God was doing in me. I was so happy, I encouraged a lot of people who were so broken, and I started to grow and develop. There was a lot of people that got baptised after me because I found someplace that I was accepted and I found inner strength and that was huge for me. I found value and peace. Prior to coming to the Lord the only things that gave me a sense of worth was my body and sports. I didn’t do well in school because I couldn’t focus. Because of my past life I am working in the field where I am today, with broken kids and those who were exploited. I really want to be God’s spokesperson. I want to be a role model and the person that save people the way the Lord saved me.
A lot of people left the church because people were judgemental, intrusive and aggressive. A lot of my friends had a high risk lifestyle and were in and out of jail. So they left but I am still here and that is how God established me through the church. It happened mainly because people were consistent with me in the early days, after that it was all God. Jesus truly saves!