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Josephine's Personal Testimony

 

An African European speaks of her experience of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and how she found God through the Bible.

My name is Josephine. I am a new Christian single mother of 2 beautiful kids; I decided to seriously give my life to Jesus Christ. I studied of Him, I passed the examination, I have just now been baptized, and I know that I am saved because of Jesus now.

But I want to share my life story with the world because I believe that God wants to use to tell the world about our lives and our paths to Him. I want to shout aloud about His grace, what He has done for me, and therefore, what I know He can do for you too. I can see now that the Lord was preparing me to write my story some day.

So I will begin with my childhood in Africa, in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). When I was a child I had dreams about God; even then I knew that He was watching over me. He has never left me. What I am writing in this account are things which are faithful and true. My story is to let people know that there is a God, He is a miracle working God and He is real. I pray that people will understand my story in a spiritual sense and see how their stories are not so different. I want to say at the start of it: Listen to me, people. Jesus said to repent, give your life to Him, learn of Him and be baptized; for Jesus loves you so much.

Until I was 8 years old in Ivory Coast, my life was like Cinderella. My mother had separated from my father because my father had 5 wives including my mother, so she left and I never saw her again in my childhood. So I was raised by my grandmother till 7 years old; I didn't know my own mother. My grandmother and I used to live in a forest. One day we were sitting there alone and we heard a lion coming our way, so we ran and went into a room and closed the door, but the lion was still there waiting for us. So we prayed for 10 minutes, and then the lion went. I thank God for that day and I will never forget. It made a big impression on me, and I have had to face many other 'lions' in my life.

At the age of 8 years old, I was separated from my grandmother and went to live in my father's house, with my stepmother and her 2 kids. I didn't want to leave my grandmother and it was hard for me. Broken relationships have been a big thing for me, but they prepared me for the true relationship with Jesus and His people.

In the house of my father there were also 2 cousins of ours also living there. I couldn't speak French to communicate with them, as I spoke only Twi (Ghanaian language). I went also to school at that time, even then I was not happy, I missed my grandmother and I was worried about her. I used to pray that someday she will come and take me away. My stepmother didn't like me, she made me cook, clean the house after school and I couldn't even go outside to play with my friends. I was very clever at

School, all teachers loved me and respected me but they felt sorry for me that I had a wicked stepmother. My father was always strictly against me. My father paid a special teacher who sometimes came to teach us at home but I didn't trust him because he was always touching under my skirt, and I was so afraid because my father would never believe me

Because I was only 9 years old. The teacher used to beat me up for refusing sex and told my father that I didn't study well so my father also beat me up. I was frozen with fear; my father would grab me tightly by the upper arms or slap me. He never beat his others kids and I was the only person that he always beat. My father used to beat me sometimes when I went to play outside after my homework. I always used to get the blame for something I didn't do and my stepmother beat me with a belt. Sometimes I ran away from home and went to seek my grandmother, but my stepmother would find me and bring me back and start beating me again.

At that time almost every night one of my cousins used to come into my room and force me and rape me. I told my stepmother but my father told me that I was dreaming and that was why I screamed. One day, I was alone at home with my cousin and my cousin jumped on me and raped me, and I told him that I will tell my father. I remember to this day how he told me that if I tell my father, no one will believe me because I am an outsider, and he started to laugh and manipulated me so I shut my mouth for 2 years. One Sunday I went to church, but suddenly I had pain between my legs so I went to the toilet and saw that I was bleeding. I didn't understand what was happening to me. There was blood on my clothes so I walked back quickly from the church to home. My father saw that I was bleeding, so he asked if I had my period. I remember how I didn't even know what a period was. My cousins and teacher weren't the only people who sexually abused me. My father used to make soaps, in

the holidays he would give me the soaps to go and sell in the city. He ordered me that I must sell all the soaps, and return each time with empty hands with the money for the soaps. It was hard to sell them all each day. A man told me he wanted to buy my soaps, he told me to come to him each day and he would buy them all. So I went there every day, at that time he started to force me and put his finger under my skirt, I remember now the scars I developed there. I thank God that a neighbour realized what was happening and intervened. The day after that, the man hung himself because of shame, he thought that his neighbour had told his wife about what he was doing to me.

My cousin continued raping me. Sometimes he was kind to me and gave me money and candies. But as I got older I tried to fight him off me. Some nights I would fight him hard to stop him raping me, but he usually won as he was so much older and stronger than me. The raping continued till I was 11 years old. Then I started feeling tired and I slept a lot at home and was feeling very sick. At school, I felt very sick and I started to vomit. So my teacher asked me if I am pregnant but I didn't know what was wrong with me. Then I realized she was right. I was pregnant. I had only started having periods and I was totally confused. So I took a big stone and started to hit my stomach very hard so my period would come and everything would be OK again.

Again, God was developing me, because I prayed so hard, and also that my true mother would come and pick me from this hell. I went to the room of my dad to find the address of my real mother who lived in Europe. Then I went to my neighbour who cared about me and helped me to write a letter, and I prayed that God would answer my prayers.

Two months later my mother came from Europe with a white man that she met in Europe. It was an answer to prayer. I could never recall having seen her. She had left me as a baby. While she was with me, my cousin tried again to rape me, I fought very hard and he left me. So my mother decided to take me with her. We went together to Europe. I arrived there in December 1987. My true mother's husband, my stepfather, found out that I was pregnant so I told him that I was raped by my cousin. So I had an abortion and started high school. After my abortion I was legally adopted by my stepfather, I got my passport so fast. I was so close with my stepfather that sometimes at school when we had a break he would bring me McDonalds so I could share with my new school friends. My stepfather spoiled me so much. No one could come between me and my stepfather. He truly loved me and adopted me, and through this experience, I was prepared to come to understand God, who is the ultimate wonderful Father who has adopted us.

The 20th January 1991, I was at school, I had a break so my stepfather came to school so upset and I asked him what was wrong. He told me that he is very angry on the tax office so he is going there to talk with them. I said that I wanted to go with him because I didn't feel well; but he said to go to school and to promise him to be a good mother to my kids someday. And I said ok. The 21st January at 22:00, 2 policemen came to my place and told me that my stepfather hanged himself in the toilet of the taxes office. I couldn't believe my own ears, I though it was a joke or something so they gave me a letter that he left for me; he wrote that he was so sorry that it had come so far. But he had to do this so the tax office would leave him alone; and that he loves me very much. Later my mother said that my stepfather had a debt of 25.000 euros. I was in shock. The story was in the newspaper. Up till then I had been very good in the class, but I lost my grandmother in Ivory Coast and now my stepfather, and I started to be bad at school.

At home was also not going well with my mother. I was looking for someone to accept me and love me. Then I met a Colombian guy, his name was Jefferson. Jefferson was very handsome, bad boy, charming, witty, intelligent, bad with money, and was a master of psychology. He was gregarious and confident. I thought he was perfect for me and I thought I was going to be well taken care of for the rest of my life. My mother knew better, she never liked him and tried to warn me but I didn't listen to her. Anyway I felt that my mother didn't want me anymore. So at the age of almost 18 years old I moved from the house and went to live with my boy friend, I gave him all my money because he was treating me as being more special than any other person. He also had problem with his mother. So we went to a relief house for 5 months, pretending like we don't know each other. Whenever a guy started to talk to me he got jealous, he started to insult me, calling me a bitch etc and then when I told him that I wanted to break up with him, then he started to apologize to me that he is sorry and he love me so much, and I forgot everything. At that time Jefferson rented a room for us so I was living with him whilst also studying. I wasn't doing well at school. When I came home late, he used to get angry and through my clothes on the steps and tell me to go back to my mother. I couldn't do this, so I would tell him that I am sorry and he is the only man who loves me, and so he forgave me.

I found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to keep my baby but we didn't have any money and it was very difficult situation. I had to sell my rings, just to have money for food. He was very lazy and could never hold a job. After my daughter was born, my life changed, Jefferson was treating me very bad and I didn't like the way he was touching me, he was forcing me and raping me. I remember he once said that he is a man and if I don't give him sex he will be like a dog to me.

He ordered me not to have friends, but he would invite his friends to the house and sometimes he insulted me in front of his friend. Everyday I would cry and pray to God because I was living with a monster. Jefferson taught me how to steal. I was very shy and I was afraid to steal. I had never considered going to a woman's shelter-I hadn't even thought my situation was bad enough to. I had never realized that it was domestic violence, even if he hit me and later he would say that he is sorry and he loved me so much, he said if I left him he would kill me. I now realize I was a victim of domestic violence but I didn't realize it then. He broke a glass in pieces and he put it around my neck and told me if I leave him he would kill himself or me like that glass.

Sometimes we had to steal food and meat at the shop because we didn't have money to even feed the baby and we were very lucky that time. Sometimes he would hit me and insult me in front of my daughter, and then the girl-friend of his brother would come round straight after that and pick me up to go to the shop and steal food, it was always that same procedure. I went with my daughter to the shops, once I was seen stealing meat and warned, then I was caught again, the Police took me to the cell for 24 hours and my daughter was taken back to Jefferson. I was so scared. The police told me that I must stay there for 24 hours, when they left me there alone I started to cry like a baby and I knew that it was my own fault.

I went down on my knees, I started to pray for 15 minutes and I heard a policeman opening the door and he said I must tell them why I had stolen the meat. So I told him that I don't have money to buy food and meat and that is why I had stolen the meat. He said I am free to go home but I must promise him that I will never steal again but they will send me a bill; and he started to laugh and I gave him a hug. I thank God also for that day and I will never forget it.

One month later we were arguing and he almost killed me with his hands, so I called the police and he ran away from the house. Nights he was calling me that he wanted to come back but I said no, he started to call me names by insulting me and was telling me on the phone that he will kill me, and I was so scared, with only God to look after me. I called him, took him back and we moved to another city and I was nice to him so he would not kill me. We started a new life together and away from everybody we know. I became pregnant again. He would regularly get into fits of rage and start punching me and pulling my hair, I was simply frozen with fear but I thank God that my baby was ok. My nose was bleeding, everywhere was bleeding after he would hit me when I was so pregnant. After my son was born a few months later, he became physically violent after a few weeks, throwing things, shoving me in front of my kids, because I came late home and he became physically violent and I tried to

leave but he trapped me in the house. At one point I went to the kitchen, pulled a knife on him and he said if I kill him I will go to hell. I started to hit him, the kids were screaming. He literally tried to break me in two. He said he would, that he could, and he was going to. Only my little daughter grabbing him saved me from that. And I learnt from that, that from small things God works. He took all my money and left, I had so much blood coming into my left eye, my eye was bloodshot for a long time after that. I went to the police and signed an Order, which kept him away from me and barred him from the house.

Then I met an African man who helped me with money and we started dating and having a relationship with him for 5 years. It was he who suggested to me to read the Bible. So that was another step on the journey. But later he broke up with me. I was feeling hurt so I started going to disco with friends, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, taking ecstasy and smoking weed. All the time I was not feeling happy and I felt that God and His Spirit which is in me, the breath of His which keeps me alive, didn't agree with my behaviour and what I was putting into my body. I felt He was warning me to repent, give my life to Jesus, and know that Jesus loves me.

Then God gave me a chance, a small thing, to show grace. My daughter had a friend, I could sense she was being abused, although only a child. I felt the time had come to start to work for God and do for others something on the basis of what He had brought me through. She came to me and asked for Euro 20, but I didn't even have enough money for any food that week.

But I showed grace and I gave her the money.

One week later my daughter's friend gave me the Euro 20 back, and the next day I dreamed about a black woman who was very sick but I didn't understand the dream so I prayed. The next day, someone rung on my door so I opened the door and I was shocked because it was the woman of my dream. She introduced herself that she is mother of my daughter's friend. She invited me one day to see her, she told me of her problems and sadness, and I found myself telling her that Jesus will heal her and she must believe and give her life to Jesus Christ.

I realized I had to find the truth. I started on the internet surfing, I was searching for free Bible literature to explain the Bible. God led me to one website and I registered there and asked for a free Bible basics course. In a few weeks I received it. For a couple of months I had emails from them. I would stay up very late at night after the kids had gone to sleep, reading things on the internet. I prayed to God to be baptized, for Him to send someone to baptize me. And then I got an email straight after that from D, saying he was coming to my country on some business and suggested we meet and talk. He came with his wife C. When I got the email saying that baptism was a possibility, I thought that I was dreaming. I pray and I thank God for his blessing. It is God's miraculous work.

Brother D and his wife called me and we talked on the phone and internet too. They came to my house, I cooked them a meal, we talked, we discussed all things. We joked, D had been in Ghana and we laughed about Fufu [maize food]. I was surprised by joy really. The only thing I was worried about was that I really had no money to pay for us for the entrance fee to the swimming pool. So Brother D told me that we will pay for everything and I told myself thank you, God. I was baptized that special day by Brother D and his wife made some pictures. After the baptizing we went home and later they want to leave so we thanked each other and Brother D put Euro 50 in my hand and he said it is for the kids. I said to myself; my God, thank you for the blessing and He knew. I want to thank Brother D and his wife for the help and may God bless them, in Jesus' name. Amen. I want to thank God for all His blessing for me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose from the dead so my sin can be forgiven.

So what are my conclusions? My childhood was very bad and I was in an abusive relationship that lasted for 5 years but God was always there pulling and protecting me, even when I was weak. I'm much stronger in the Lord and wiser now. It took a lot of hard, desperate years, but I can finally say that I am found again by Jesus, and I'm happy with who I am and what I've accomplished. I have my 2 angels of the kids, and I am very happy with my new life with Jesus. My childhood, my griefs and the abusive relationship, you know something, through that I became strong in the Lord and now I am born again as a new person. Now I feel I have arrived at the Truth. Now I see why it all had to happen as it did. It wasn't just bad luck, nor just my weakness or the sin of others against me. God was in all this. I dreamed that God spoke to me that I must give a message to people; they must repent, they must give their lives to Jesus and know that Jesus loves them so much. I know that God wants to use me and do His work. Repentance from Sin, in Jesusí name. Amen. (Luke 24:47; Tim. 2:25, 26; Matt. 9:13)

And so I want to reach out to YOU. Thank you for reading this far. I love you and so does the Lord. God bless you.