My story is one of footprints in the sand. As I look back on my life I can see only one set of footprints but I now know it was then that God carried me. Some of what I will share I didn’t actually remember occurring until I was an adult.

One of my first memories was at the age of five. I was living in South Australia. I had whooping cough and German measles at around the same time. I remember sitting in my bed coughing away and being touched inappropriately by my father.

My parents would argue a lot and supposedly because I was sick my mother, brother and myself needed to move to another city for a while away from my father. Three months later everything was ok so we moved back to home. It was only a short time though because my parents needed to move back to Adelaide to start a new life.

Once we moved to Adelaide things seemed to be better between my parents or so I thought at the time. My mum would often see other men and they would quite often be at my grandparents instead of my father but I just thought that was normal. We would even go on holidays with my mum’s friends and once my grandparents came on the holiday as well. After the holiday we would just go back home to Dad. It all seemed quite normal to me at the time. I never really thought anything of it at the time because my family all went to church and my grandmother used to always remind me what a good Christian woman my mother was.

At the age of ten my parents split up briefly and we had to move. Again my mother, brother and I stayed at my grandparents. My grandparents would often tell me what an evil man my father was and that whenever I was naughty it was because I was an evil witch, which I inherited from my father.

At the age of thirteen my mum told me that Dad and she were going to start a new life and move up to Leigh Creek where my father had got a job as the town manager. They told me I would have to live at my grandparents place so I could go stay in school in Adelaide.

During that year my grandfather would often come into my room and touch me inappropriately but I always thought it was ok as he told me how much he loved me. My grandmother knew this was happening but chose to ignore it.

It was during that year that a man by the name of John from the Gideons came to my school, and spoke during the assembly and then handed out the Gideon testaments to all the students.

My testament had one of the sections missing and because I liked my new little bible I decided to ring John whose contact details were in the bible and ask if I could have another bible. He came to my grandparent’s house and gave me a new copy of the bible. He showed me a couple of verses and told me how I could become a Christian. Even though I had gone to church with my family before then I still call this my conversion time.

One verse he gave me was Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord and he answered me and freed me from all my fears. This became a very important verse to me.”

John gave me his number and said if I ever needed anyone to talk to ring him up.  He often came and visited me at my home. One day he invited me over to his home to meet his wife. They were both lovely and made me feel at peace. I told them a little bit of my life. During the next few years John would come and visit my family quite often. He showed me the section in the front of the bible which had verses related to different topics or issues you may be facing and told me to look them up when I needed.

When I was sixteen I started my nursing degree and I got my license. My grandparents gave me their old car. As John had often said I could use his computer for my assignments I decided to take him up on this offer. I would often go over to the their house to do my assignments and then talk to them both in the kitchen. They would often ask me how things were going at home and John would often show me a verse in the Gideon bible to take home with me and recite and they would always pray with me.

In 1988 when I was 20 I started living with one of my many boyfriends. He used to smoke Marijuana and drink quite heavily. Although I lived in that situation and did drink a bit, that was as far as I went. It was a very volatile relationship and yet for some reason after we'd been together for two years we decided to get engaged. My engagement lasted two weeks. The next week I moved back home only to be told that my parents had decided to get a divorce.  I was told not to tell my Grandfather as he was dying of cancer. He died the next week. Suddenly my whole world in one month fell apart. I had not been at church for the last two years and was actually quite anti church. A couple of months later my mother-attempted suicide (she actually jumped in front of a train and was only saved because someone pushed her out of the way), and according to my grandmother it was my fault. She was in Sydney at the time.

I contacted John and his family during that time as I felt I had nowhere else to turn. They prayed with me and showed me various verses in my Gideon bible to help me. They encouraged me to go to Sydney to be with my mother. I actually remember taking this bible with me and sharing it with my mother.

One bible verse I was encouraged to memorise was Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings in all ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”

God has directed my path and taken me on an amazing journey, which is far from the one I went through when I was young. God has given me a husband who I adore and who has been a significant part of my faith journey, as well as the gift of our wonderful children. I now have a good relationship with my father, who I have been able to forgive.

I asked John to speak at my wedding because of the influence he and the Gideon bible had had on me. For me that Gideon testimony that was given to me when I was 13 and John and his family had a huge impact on my life and helped shape me into the person I am now.

I thank God for giving me life, for setting me free and because of that I believe. Thank you for listening to my story.