My first real memory of God is from when I was about five years old. My father was Hindu and my mother was a nominal Christian but the people who worked for us in and around our home, practiced a mixture of, Islam, ancestor worship and animism. One day one of the kitchen staff told me that they had put a curse on me. I still remember very clearly that my first response was to get a cross and carry it around for protection. I was only five but I prayed to God that he would protect me and I felt like he did.
When I was nine we moved from Malaysia to Australia. The next ten years were very challenging for me. I was a black woman growing up in the very white suburbs of southern Sydney in the 1980’s. I preferred studying to surfing and would rather read a book than go to a party. My teenage years were shaped by the persistent belief that I didn’t fit in and that I never would.
University life opened my eyes to a whole other world. Amongst the emerging gay party scene I found a group of fellow misfits who were happy to include and accept me into their community. When you have spent so much of your life feeling like you don’t belong it is such a relief to find people who will accept you as you are. Although I wasn’t gay, the gay community gave me a safe place where I could express the uniqueness of my personality without rejection. But life is not one continuous dance party and it wasn’t too long before my studies were suffering and I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I needed a break so I went home to visit my parents for the weekend. All I wanted to do was sleep and regroup but on Sunday my mum, who had recently become a born again Christian, invited me to go to church with her.
To be honest I can’t even really remember much about the church service. I know that there was singing and then a message about Jesus and then the guy who was speaking asked if anyone would like to become a Christian. I wasn’t even aware of putting up my hand but I did it. I had such a strong sense of God drawing me towards Him. I felt compelled to respond even though I knew I didn’t understand the full magnitude of what I was doing. Growing in up in Malaysian culture I was very aware of the reality of a spiritual world. I had no problem believing that God would speak to me and I sensed His presence in a very tangible way.
I left the church meeting feeling invincible. The restless exhaustion that had been plaguing me was replaced by a sense of peace unlike anything that I had ever experienced before. I took a short break from my studies, walked away from the party scene and started attending church regularly. That was over twenty years ago. The journey has not always been easy but the same God I called out to for protection as a five year old brought me peace and purpose as a twenty year old and remains my anchor today.