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SPRING 2012 Volume 59 Number 3




the virgin diaries UNCOVERED

Plus The seasons of a woman’s hands The truth of the matter Praying for change

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CW contents: 15 9

Editor’s Letter

10 Motivation Matters Daily motivation is the difference between what we are and what we can become… says Amanda Antcliff 12 Something He Really, Really Needs … This must-read article is the missing link in a healthy relationship with your spouse... Berni Dymet 15 Praying for Change Looking for change? It’s time our prayers became less about what we want... Lara Phegan 18 Virgin Diaries Sex.God.Love. aren’t usually 3 words that you see in the same sentence. But the truth is, SEX is one of GOD’S best inventions! Sabrina Peters investigates

22 The Season’s of a Woman’s Hands Whatever you find in your hands to do... Melissa Arnold reflects on the power in her grasp 24 Light in the Darkness Detained in a North Korean death camp not long after discovering Jesus, young Heo Woo survived... an Open Doors exclusive 28 God Loves Rejects Ever felt rejected? We have all felt left out, lonely and alone at some point, but Ginny Mink shares some good news... God truly does love rejects!


30 I Don’t Have It All Together Corallie Buchanan opens up about a moment in time that has her questioning all she ever knew... 32 The Truth of the Matter Justin Gardner’s incredible true story of redemption from a life of crime.


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elcome to the spring issue of Christian Woman magazine! One theme that is evident in this issue is that God can use anybody! You may be a stay at home mum, a corporate woman, a freelance writer, a traveller, a grandmother or a bus driver. You may in fact do all of the above (cudos to you!). Whatever station you are at in life take a moment to stop and look around. Who is with you? What has God asked you to do? Are you bearing fruit? Are you happy? Who is following you? We have some brilliant articles this issue. Berni Dymet offers a male view on relationships and one of the most important keys to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner. I know you want to jump directly to page 12 to read... but wait, there’s more! Author Sabrina Peters tackles a sensitive topic in The Virgin Diaries (page 18). Sabrina offers some advice to ensure our young singles make it to their wedding nights as virgins. Get this article into the hands of all your unmarried friends! Lara Phegan shares on the powerful subject of prayer.

Stay connected with Christian Woman daily via Facebook/Twitter Praying for Change is more about and our website you and less about the outcome.

You’ll find her own personal testimony motivating. We also profile two incredibly inspiring people from different sides of the world. One grew up in a life of crime in the underbelly of Melbourne, while the other was shipped off to endure time in a concentration camp in China. Both survived and their stories will encourage you in your own walk with the Lord. So to you, dear woman of God, whoever you are, whatever you do, know that God LOVES you. His plans and purposes for you are far deeper and richer than you could ever imagine. Take hold of the scriptures, arm yourself in prayer, put great people around you, and enjoy this issue of Christian Woman magazine. Blessings, Nicole Danswan Editor | Publisher

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Motivation Matters Daily motivation is the difference between who we are and who we can become… Amanda Antcliff Motivation really does matter. Most of us can recognise the benefits of motivation in our lives - increased levels of confidence, satisfaction and achievement. You’ve probably also experienced what it’s like to have little or no motivation - it feels like being stuck in a quagmire - when everything is slow and tedious, and apathy reigns. Life is definitely more rewarding and enjoyable when motivation is high. Zig Ziglar stated this truth; ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily’. Motivation is transient. It comes and goes. In my words - ‘Sometimes you’re hot and sometimes you’re not’. It’s important then to understand motivation - what it is, where it comes from and how to maintain it. MOTIVATION IS FUEL Motivation begins in the heart but is most powerful when it provokes action and produces results. The word motivation comes from the Latin word ‘movere’ meaning ‘to MOVE’. Ps Phil Pringle says; ‘Being motivated is not just being inspired. Motivation goes to work. If motivation doesn’t result in action it is futile.’ A motivated person then is someone who exudes drive, enthusiasm and confidence. As petrol is to a car engine, motivation is the fuel in a person’s life. It provides the impetus to start, maintain and complete a goal. WHERE DOES MOTIVATION COME FROM? The word ‘motivation’ is derived from the word ‘motive’. The strongest source of motivation comes from a deep sense of purpose or conviction. When you set goals or embark on accomplishing something new it is not merely enough to know WHAT you want to achieve, but also WHY. The ‘why’ is the core reason for starting and maintaining action. When times get tough and motivation 10 Christian Woman Spring 2012

wanes the ‘why’ is what will keep someone going. A further source of motivation is passion. Passion has many facets. It can encompass positive emotions like vision, desire and excitement, but it can also include more ‘negative’ emotions such as fear, anger or injustice. Any of these passionate responses can provoke a person to action. Passions though, because they are emotional responses, have the problem of being fickle. So when our motivational tanks are running dry we need to be able to change gears and find energy from other sources. WHEN MOTIVATION FAILS, WHAT NEEDS TO KICK IN? Jim Rohn, says “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” In the process of achieving a goal, motivation will fluctuate – there will be highs and lows. You will go through times when you feel like you could burst with excitement and energy, and other moments when everything inside of you feels dull or dead. A number of years ago, we revived the interior of our family home. I love colour, and the house we bought was a home built in the 70’s, which had stained wood and white walls throughout. In my eyes it was very boring and lifeless. For a number of months I dreamt what my walls would look like with colour. I was so excited – vision was very much alive in my heart. I remember clearly the night before I commenced painting; I was so filled with passion that I could not even sleep. I was dreaming about colour...colour...colour on my walls. The next day I started to paint...then the next day...and the day after that...and the days rolled on. What started with great enthusiasm turned into a hard slog. But how delightful was the prize at the end of all the effort. Many goals we set out to accomplish are like that. So what is it that will keep us going? I believe it’s three key character

qualities; pure COMMITMENT, dogged DISCIPLINE and resolute DETERMINATION. In 2005, God visited me one morning and put a message in my heart. He asked me to write a book that would inspire women to rise. The burden and sense of call I felt was profound. When God asks you to do something, it often leaves you with a strong sense of motivation... but it’s so much deeper than that. As Christians the highest motivation we can have in our lives is obedience to say ‘yes’ and do whatever God asks you... even when there is a personal cost. So, I said ‘yes’ and began to write. It was a tumultuous journey. The first month or so, the words were bubbling out of me like a river. As the months went on I had to learn the DISICIPLINE and the HABIT of writing during times when inspiration and motivation were low. It took two and half years to write my book. Throughout that journey, I also had to live the message of my book which is to ‘Stand up and step out into a life of influence’. Because of this, I went through some intense personal challenges and growth which demanded me to stand firm in the commitment I had made. There were other moments that were also particularly tough. After


writing my first draft I had a number of people critique my work and to be quite honest some of their comments nearly ‘killed me’. But I kept going. Then came the editing stage...and this required ongoing tedious writing... rewriting...and even more writing. That’s when discipline, determination and commitment once again had to reign. Thankfully, I did finish writing and my book was published. (Women Rising) Let me encourage you...that whatever you choose to do...whether it’s starting a business, planting a church, studying a course, renovating a home, getting fit, losing weight, getting counselling for a heart issue or practising an instrument or a creative COMMITTED, apply DISCIPLINE and keep PERSEVERING. PRINCIPLES OF MOTIVATION Psychologists have devised many different theories on motivation. Within these theories there are some common key principles. Let’s look at two of them. 1. Difference Between Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation This principle recognises the difference between motivation that comes from

an external source (that is ‘outside’ a person) versus motivation that is birthed from within a person. We’ll understand this by looking at a sporting example. An athlete training who is extrinsically motivated, will get their impetus for competing from their desire for recognition...the need for others’ approval... to become famous... to gain financial rewards ...or to win the ultimate place and prize. For this individual their motivation and sense of fulfilment comes from demonstrating a higher ability in comparison to others. In most cases, it requires the person to defeat others and to WIN. Whereas an athlete who is intrinsically motivated will find satisfaction in the personal benefits and enjoyment gained through training and competing. This could include being fit and healthy... the strengthening of personal qualities such as discipline and determination... or establishing and beating their own ‘personal bests’. When a person is internally motivated, winning is great, but it’s not everything. Motivation more comes from doing one’s best rather than being the best. It’s not about out-competing others, but rather the satisfaction found in personal growth and achieving goals. At work, people can also be internally or externally motivated. Extrinsic factors that motivate people can be: - Work deadlines - Boss’s expectations and approval - Financial bonuses - Personal recognition - Rewards and incentives Whereas intrinsic motivators in the workplace can include: - A sense of personal pride at a job well done - Belonging and achieving in a team context - Self improvement - Mastering a goal by applying skills and knowledge - Setting and achieving KPI’s If you are in a position where you manage people, or have close relationships with others (eg your husband or children) – it’s very worthwhile to understand what motivates them...and of course yourself. When you recognize key motivators in your own and others lives, you can both provide these motivators for them and more aptly encourage them.

2. Motivators of ‘Competence’ and ‘Autonomy’ The factors of competence and autonomy are two intrinsic factors which motivate people – both in their personal and professional lives. Competence involves a satisfied feeling of being able to do something really well. Most people find inspiration in being effective, proficient or even expert at something. The other motivator - autonomy - is a fundamental psychological need that people have to be able to control their own decisions and behaviour. In essence, autonomy is when individuals are able to exert their independence. Research has found that individuals will seek and pursue activities that bring a sense of competence and autonomy. In the work place, these motivators are particularly important and reflect why employees are demotivated when they are micromanaged by their bosses. A feeling of lack of control and incompetence will generally result in low morale and poor performance. The most effective tool then for managing staff is empowering delegation. This is when employees are given tasks or responsibilities that match or appropriately challenge their strengths and talents – thus enabling a person to achieve competency. Secondly, they are given sufficient authority to perform the task without undue supervision – thus satisfying their need for autonomy. FINAL THOUGHT Andrew Carnegie, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said this; ‘People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.’ Motivation then really does matter. Casting our eyes to the past and then onwards into the will be motivation that will drive great accomplishments, compel personal excellence and MOVE forward our lives and the world we live in. CW

Amanda Antcliff is a personal coach, mentor, pastor, workshop trainer and conference speaker. She is also the author of the book Women Rising.

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A Different Perspective.

Something He Really, Really Needs...

One of the most important keys to maintaining a healthy relationship with your man... BERNI DYMET reveals


e men don’t always react to things the way that you women expect us to or would like us to. I know, I know – that’s an incredible understatement! And so the reason we call this now regular feature in Christian Woman magazine ‘A Different Perspective’ is that my job description if you will, is to chat with you from a man’s viewpoint, about some of the things that you possibly (read almost certainly) find more than a little confusing, perplexing and frustrating. Now this time around, I did 12 Christian Woman Spring 2012

something a little different in preparation for our chat. I went out on a social media expedition to ask women what issue in particular they would like me to shed some light on. I received quite a number of perfectly wonderful responses, but there was one totally unexpected suggestion from author, magazine editor, wife and mother Janelle Knox that really hit me between the eyes. This is what she wrote: I have a personal beef... I hate

it when women get together and put down their husbands. I believe women should be their husbands’ greatest advocate. We should build up and not tear down, we should encourage and wait on God for times we feel we’ve been ‘hard done by’ by our man and let go, trust God with our husbands and encourage them to pursue God in every way possible. There is a scripture in Proverbs about the nagging wife and I feel like too often we don’t give our guys

does more harm than the few cheap laughs give satisfaction. WOW! Quite a “rant” there Janelle – and as a man, I can tell you that she has hit a very big nail smack bang on the head here.

a break and the support they need. [Prov 19:13 & 27:15] Yes we do a lot as women - with multiple hats to wear and juggle - but so do our guys, and I feel sometimes women’s equality takes away from loving and serving our husbands in the best way we can - our support through thick and thin. Speak well of him in front of him and behind him because words are powerful and whether women realise it or not, tearing him down to their girlfriends

Have you ever wondered why sometimes your man seems inexplicably irritable? One of the reasons could well be that he doesn’t feel respected by his wife. Hang on a minute, I hear someone say. Respected? Oh please! Surely we’re not going to turn the clock back to those bad old days again, are we?! Come on! We live in a different world these days. All that stuff about a man’s headship in the home … that’s just not where we’re at anymore. Well actually, we’re not going to talk so much about “headship” today – let’s leave that for another time. Let’s just stick with meeting each other’s basic needs. I’ve recently been reading one of the most delightfully insightful, challenging and frankly funny books on marriage that I have ever read. It’s called Kiss Me Like You Mean It – Solomon’s Crazy In Love How–To Manual by clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor Dr David Clarke. In it, he makes this simple statement: Respect, honour and sex are three of nearly every husband’s most important needs. The danger here for any woman is to dismiss those needs simply on the basis that they aren’t her most important needs; they aren’t the things that would make her feel loved. Well of course they aren’t! She’s a woman. But from where I sit, I can tell you that David Clarke has it absolutely right – not just in the items that he’s included on that list, but in the sequence in which he’s listed them. Respect and honour are absolutely at the top of my list and if you have a husband, I’d be very, very surprised if they’re not at the top of his. It’s a point that Dr John Gray also makes in his book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

Please … please don’t dismiss your husband’s needs just because they’re different to your own. A woman’s list of needs is really quite different. David Clarke again: Nearly every wife would list unconditional love, protection and security, and emotional connection in her list of top five needs. To be perfectly honest, in my marriage, I have dismissed those needs way too often, to my great sadness and to my wife’s great detriment. And my heart, my passion is to learn how to meet those needs for her more and more each day. Please … please don’t dismiss your husband’s needs just because they’re different to your own. There’s a reason he is the way he is – because that’s how God wired Him. In that wonderful book about the love between a man and a woman – the Song of Songs – we discover that Solomon’s woman, the Shulamith, understood her man’s need to be respected and honoured: My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. (SoS 5:10) She honours him, wait for this – by speaking well of him to others. Now, I am not for one moment suggesting you shouldn’t avail yourself of the wise counsel of a trusted female friend to help improve your marriage. But you and I both know that there’s a long, long way between that and what Janelle was talking about, right? As a man I can tell you that at the end of the day, there’s one person whose respect matters to me way more than anyone else’s. Jacqui’s. She is my number one. She is my soul mate. She is God’s perfect provision for me and she is the one person to whom I look for approval. I wish I could tell you that I get everything right in our marriage. I wish I could tell you that I am always as attentive to her needs as I should be. But like any husband I am way from being

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A Different Perspective.

The thing that works best in helping me to see and overcome MY SHORTCOMINGS isn’t DISRESPECTFUL CRITICISM – either to my face or behind my back. perfect on my journey of learning and discovery to hopefully become a better husband to her as time goes on. The thing that works best in helping me to see and overcome my shortcomings isn’t disrespectful criticism – either to my face or behind my back. The thing that works best is the wise counsel of the woman of God who loves me. It’s the patience of the woman of God who’s in it for the long haul to help me be the best me I can possibly be. Giving him a break and supporting his need, as Janelle puts it, gives him what he needs to make the changes he needs to make. Here’s how it works: If he feels respected and honoured, he will listen to your wise counsel and he will naturally

want to mend his ways. But if he doesn’t, a nuclear detonation in close proximity is unlikely to move him. There is nothing … nothing like the respect and honour that my wife shows me at those times when I simply don’t deserve it, to humble me and to fill my heart with a desire to be a better husband to her. Your respect and your honour – demonstrated by how you speak to him to his face, how you speak about him in front of the children and how you speak about him in front of your friends – is one of the most powerful forces for good that your marriage will ever see. Of course it takes great courage, incredible courage, and as Janelle suggests, a deep trust in God, to respect

and honour your man in his less perfect moments. But then great courage and faith are two attributes that I believe God has endowed women with … in bucket loads. Am I right? CW Berni Dymet is the CEO and Bible teacher of the Australian based, global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week over 40 million people in 160 countries listen to the radio programs that he produces. You can chat with him on his blog at adifferentperspective. org of follow him on Twitter @ bernidymet.

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Praying for change Are you waiting for God to change someone or something in your life? Is there a negative situation or circumstance that keeps showing up for you? Have you found yourself lamenting, “It doesn’t matter how hard I try, things just never seem to change”.... LARA PHEGAN investigates.


any of us have found ourselves feeling this way at one time or another. The more we try to force things to change, the more frustrated or hurt we feel. Sometimes, after hitting our head against the wall again, we lose hope, give up, or stop trying. Fortunately true change is possible – but the breakthrough doesn’t come by asking God to change something ‘out there’; it comes from asking God to change something ‘in here’ - within us. Instead of praying, “God, we need you to work a miracle in this situation and change so and so, or such and such”, we need to say: “God, change me; make me the woman I need to be to have a breakthrough in this situation; make me the person I need to be to move beyond this unhealthy dynamic. Make me the woman I need to be to experience greater peace in this situation”. Change me I need to warn you though – it’s a powerful prayer. And the opportunities that come your way to help you change won’t always be comfortable for you. You may have heard the joke that if you pray for God to take away your anger, everything that could annoy you is going to show up in your life in the next 24 hours. It doesn’t always happen like that but the message stands true: when you’re finally ready to change, things will start showing up in your life which offer you the perfect opportunity to do so. This approach to growth and emotional healing is very different to one where you expect God to fix everything for you. It’s an approach that acknowledges that you play a part in the experiences of your life. It acknowledges that if you invite the light of truth to shine on your own heart, you’ll receive divine wisdom that offers you new perspectives on yourself and the situation at hand, revealing doorways to freedom that you simply couldn’t see before. One of my on-line students, Trish, experienced this when she took a ‘Change me’ approach to the challenges she was having with her sister. For years Trish had been on the receiving end of undermining comments from her sister, who regularly made negative statements about Trish’s appearance when Join the conversation online: 15


they were ready to go out somewhere special. Without fail, her sister would say something undermining that would hurt Trish’s feelings, make her doubt her attractiveness and ruin her evening. Trish had tried several things over the years to improve the situation but none of her efforts had created lasting change. When I suggested the ‘Change me’ approach to Trish she was willing to give it a try. And she was amazed by what happened when she did. Together we worked to create a simple prayer that resonated with Trish, and for three days Trish walked around praying, “God, change me; Make me the woman I need to be, to feel good about the body you gave me and to feel a healthy pride in my appearance”. Notice that her ‘Change me’ prayer didn’t mention her sister or anyone else outside herself. Remember, the ‘change me’ approach does not focus on other people or external circumstances. The

‘change me’ approach asks God to shine the light of truth on you, and invites divine wisdom to show you where your own emotional wounds, behaviours, ‘blindness’ or limitations are playing a part in the situation in front of you. For Trish it happened like this: she was getting dressed for work in the morning and she suddenly ‘heard’ the thoughts running through her own mind as she put on her foundation make-up: “Look at your blotches” “Your eyes are so small” “Your face is too round” “You’re so ugly” “Oooh yuk, look at that!” “You’re so fat”

Trish knew that what she was hearing were the thoughts that went through her mind every morning - in fact, every time she looked in a mirror! Trish told me that it shocked her; that she found it hard to believe what she was hearing. She said she paused for a moment, then looked up at herself in the mirror, and looking into her own eyes she Quality Education. Exceptional Value. said very quietly, “That’s mean. That’s very mean. You’re not being Wednesday nice at all”. 24th October Long story 9am to 11am short, Trish turned • Direct Bus Services her attention • Academic Excellence to building a • Affordable Fees more positive • A well rounded Pastoral Care program • A range of peripatetic activities such as music, drama relationship with her own body. Her and the arts prayers centered • Commitment to a wide range of sports on forgiving • A school family philosophy that embraces the individual and nurtures gifts and talents herself for being so • Before, After School & Vacation Care unloving towards herself, and asking Please join us to experience the Campus and find out what our College has to offer your God to help her child. be kinder. Trish For more information please call 49798484 or knew it wouldn’t visit our webpage. come naturally 256 Minmi Road, Fletcher so she made a commitment to

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16 Christian Woman Spring 2012

say one kind or complimentary thing to herself every time she passed a mirror. She also decided that every morning before leaving for work, she’d find two things she felt genuinely happy with about her appearance that day, and thank God for them. She renewed her promise to be kinder to herself by focusing on those two things throughout the day – bringing her attention back to those two positive things whenever she found herself thinking or feeling something negative about herself. As you probably know, what you focus on expands and what you give your attention to grows; so slowly but surely, Trish began feeling more accepting and positive about her physical appearance. Guess what happened with Trish’s sister and her negative comments? Nothing. She still says undermining things to Trish. She hasn’t changed at all. But Trish has. And her sister’s negative comments no longer have a devastating affect on her. Trish is a very different woman these days – and loving every minute of it. In situations like these things can still ‘look’ the same on the outside, but you’ll know a miracle has occurred because you’ll experience the same events differently. Everything ‘out there’ stays the same, but what happens inside of you in response to it, is worlds apart from what used to go on within you. The ‘Change me’ approach isn’t always just about changing the way you relate to yourself though. Sometimes it requires you to make significant changes in the way you relate to other people. I’ve faced a similar situation to Trish’s but my breakthrough required quite a different response. In my case, the undermining comments had come from a friend who, in certain situations – usually a group setting - would say something unkind about me in front of everyone. Like Trish, I’d tried several attempts to stop this from happening, or to stop it from bothering me, but none of my efforts had worked. So, I tried the ‘Change me’ approach. The wisdom I received was

extremely hard for me to ‘accept’ back then as it challenged all my ideas about what it means to be a loving woman. I’d always thought that the loving thing to do in a situation like that was to avoid making a scene, keep quiet, and forgive her in my heart. But the more I said ‘Change me’, the more I saw that I needed to let go of those beliefs and start standing up for myself instead of keeping quiet. I also saw that in my efforts to be a ‘loving person’, I often required myself to put up with unloving treatment from others. Ouch! I wanted to resist it, but I knew the next step to wholeness for me was to find my voice and start speaking up for myself. Which terrified me! Like I said earlier, the ‘Change me’ approach isn’t always an easy one. Sometimes it requires you to do the complete opposite of what you’d usually do – or to do something so out of character, so unfamiliar, so ‘risky’for you, that you find yourself thinking, “There’s no way I’m doing that!”. But sometimes the thing you’re resisting the most, the thing you’re most afraid to consider, the behaviour that feels least natural, least safe, least comfortable to you – is the doorway to your freedom. It was a few weeks before another situation came up with that friend again. Right in front of everyone she made one of her belittling comments about me. So do you know what I did? I opened my mouth and I said something in my own defense. To my surprise it came out witty and everyone laughed. Except for her. And me. My heart was thumping so hard and my hands were trembling under the table. She didn’t say a word but the look she gave me let me know exactly what she thought of me. My initial impulse was to get up and leave before I burst into tears. I wanted to go home and crawl into bed. But I didn’t. I stayed right where I was. And to my delight (and despite her scowl), I found myself chatting away to other people and carrying on as if nothing had happened. I’d found my voice, learned to stand up for myself,

and expanded my definition of being a loving woman to include being loving to myself! Like I said, ‘Change me’ is a powerful prayer. These days I don’t see her except very occasionally through a mutual acquaintance. She hasn’t made any belittling comments about me since that night, all those years ago. And I doubt she ever will. So how do you know if the Change me’ approach is going to involve a change that’s only evident to you and God, or if it’s going to mean you need to totally change your behaviour and do something completely out of character for you? You don’t. There isn’t a set formula. You don’t know until you begin exactly what kind of change is required for you to have a breakthrough. What you can be sure of though is that one way or another, you’re going to have some work to do on changing yourself, and sometimes you’re not going to like what’s being asked of you because it’s the opposite of what you feel like doing – and dealing with that is what is going to create the miracle. So, where in your life have you been caught in a repetitive, negative pattern? Who or what have you been waiting for God to change? Where have you given up, shut down or stopped trying because things seem so hopeless and helpless? Would you be willing to try a new approach and allow the change you’re longing for to occur through you. Would you be willing to try the ‘Change me” approach? The reality is that most of the time, if change is going to come, it’s going to come through you. It’s not going to come to you. You have to be what’s different. And then because you’re different, your experience of what’s occurring will be different – regardless of whether or not anyone or anything out there changes. If you do open your heart to a

‘Change me’ approach, the challenging situations in your life will no longer be sources of pointless pain and suffering. They’ll become doorways to your own personal growth and healing. With new insights, you’ll stop reacting in your usual ways. You’ll stop going down the same deadend streets. You’ll stop engaging in old patterns. You’ll change. And your life will change. So why not take your attention off everyone else and what they’re doing or not doing and ask God to shine the light of truth on you. Ask to see what it is in you that needs healing or changing or shifting in order for you to have a personal breakthrough. And commit to acting on the wisdom you receive, no matter how hard it is for you. Use the challenging situations that come up in your life as an opportunity for you to go through the fire of transformation. Be willing to leave your old self behind and move past your current limitations. Allow a new and greater version of yourself to come forth. Say it now, and set a miracle in motion: “Ok God, change me”. CW

Lara Phegan is the author of Live your Purpose, Love your Life: A woman’s guide to Authenticity, Power, Purpose and Joy. She writes in a range of international magazines and offers inspirational teachings for living a life of faith, love, fulfillment and success through her online publications and services. To contact Lara or subscribe to her free inspirational newsletter, email or visit

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Virgin Diaries

18 Christian Woman Spring 2012


Sex.God.Love. aren’t usually 3 words that you see in the same sentence. But the truth is SEX is one of GOD’S best inventions! SABRINA PETERS, author of LADY IN WAITING, chats openly about this hot topic...

ow did you get to your wedding night still a virgin?” Those were the words scribbled on the small piece of paper I held in my hands. I was sitting around with a group of young adults sharing my story and SEX was the centre of our conversation. (No surprise there, right) It’s everywhere you look; splattered across our TV screens, entangled in every twitter feed. You can’t turn on the radio without hearing a song about “love, sex and magic” or flick through a magazine without finding 10 ways to spice up your sex life. It is everywhere! Including the bible. So lets see what God has to say about it.


Before I tell you my answer of HOW I got to my wedding night a virgin. The more important question is WHY? “WHY get to the wedding night a virgin?” Because if you can’t answer that, the HOW is completely insignificant. So WHY save it?

SEX IS LIKE GLUE. If I gave you a tube of super glue and told you to squirt it on your palms and clasp your hands together, would you? Most people would say NO, right? Well sex is the strongest adhesive around yet all too often it’s treated as common, with absolutely no value or worth. I know people that have slept together and they don’t even know each other’s names. Sex sticks two people together! It’s impossible to be intimate with someone and simply walk away. Matthew 19:4-12 puts it perfectly. Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves his father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. “When you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise… whether you do or not.” - Cameron Diaz, Vanilla Sky.

IT’S A GIFT FOR YOUR SPOUSE Sex should be something special given to the one you love, not just the guy you’re into for a minute. If you had a choice between a brand new magnum ice cream or one that was passed around the lunchroom and everybody took a bite of, which would you prefer? You don’t want to give your spouse something everybody has already had. IT HONORS GOD 1 Corinthians 6:18 All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR FUTURE MARRIAGE Check out these stats. o Those who were monogamous (only one sexual partner in a lifetime) were by far most likely to be still in a stable relationship (80 percent). o A study performed by the National Survey of Family Growth found that non-virgin brides increase their odds of divorce by about 60% o Those who have had premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital affairs as well. Premarital sexual attitudes and behavior do not change after one marries; if a woman lives with a man before marriage, she is more likely to cheat on him after marriage. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! Young people today think that the bible is just full of stuff that is out-dated and old fashioned. They think God is some kill-joy that gives them useless instructions simply for his benefit. Well it’s not true! It’s not about rules or regulations or trying to be some kind of super Christian. (so you can flaunt a purity ring) It’s about you and for your benefit. Proverbs 6:34 Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants? Can you walk barefoot on hot coals and not get blisters Join the conversation online: 19


So that’s the WHY. Back to the question of, “HOW did I stay a virgin until my wedding night?” To be honest – with white knuckles, gritted teeth, stumbling all the way to the altar and thankful that his grace is sufficient. It was definitely not easy! I found my fiancé (Benjamin) ridiculously hot and everything inside of me was screaming, “just go with it!” But praise the good Lord in heaven we made it! Phew! Lets get practical in guarding the carnal treasure. MAKE A PLAN No one gets to his or her wedding night an accidental virgin! You’ve got to plan to! It could be as simple as making a conscious decision in your mind, writing it down in your journal, or even discussing it with people you look up to. Something I did was actually write letters to my future 20 Christian Woman Spring 2012

husband well before we had even met! This helped me stay focused on the finish line and reminded me constantly about the perspective of my decision to wait. RUN FROM THE LINE As a youth pastor my teenagers always want to know how far they can go. My advice: run from that line for dear life dude! It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff. You don’t want to be lingering on the ledge hoping not to slip; you want to pull back as far as you can, because inevitably you will creep closer. WHEN YOU GO TO FAR, DON’T MAKE IT OK There’s a difference between a lifestyle and a mistake. We all make mistakes! If you cross a boundary don’t beat yourself up, God pours out his grace on those with a contrite heart. Ask him for forgiveness, mean it, and just because you’ve been there once don’t make it

a habit. NAUGHTY THINGS HAPPEN LATE AT NIGHT Things tend to happen in the heat of the night not the cool of the day. Be a wise woman and don’t hang out at 2am in the morning. DON’T GET HORINZONTAL It’s pretty much down hill from here. Things get frisky when you’re horizontal. Don’t want to make a baby? Don’t share a bed. I don’t care if you’re just cuddling. It won’t be long before it’s a lot more. TALK ABOUT IT Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14 ESV) Knowledge is power. Talk to your parents, your youth pastors, people you look up to. Search out answers in the bible. Read books about it! (I read a book about relationships when

It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff. You don’t want to be lingering on the ledge hoping not to slip you want to pull it back as far as you can, because inevitably you will creep closer.

I was 18 and it completely changed the projection of my life. I actually broke up with my boyfriend and made a commitment that the next guy I dated I would marry….and well, I did! And we recently produced the most gorgeous little girl – Liberty) THROW YOURSELF INTO THE ARMS OF HIS GRACE This is by far the most important thing to remember! Only by God’s grace are we sanctified and set free! As important as all of these things are don’t trust in them, trust in JESUS! You need the power of God to get you there. No matter how much will power you have,

no matter what boundaries you set down, we need the Holy Spirit to help! Self-control is a FRUIT of the spirit. And lastly I just want to say no matter where you have been or what you have done God still loves you and you are completely forgiven! He proved on the cross just how much you meant to Him. Giving up His one and only son –Jesus - in the midst of your mess. God specializes in giving people a fresh start. Make today your day. CW Sabrina Peters is the Youth Pastor of METRO Church, Gold Coast. Author & Speaker. Lover of teenagers. Wife of Benjamin & yummy mummy of Liberty.


Lady in Waiting is a book that breaks open the truth surrounding the infamous topic of SEX GOD & LOVE in a practical way. Far from being the book full of do’s and don’ts, Lady in Waiting gives young women all the reasons why waiting will be the best thing they could ever do! Relevant, humorous and easy to read it’s a must read for any Christian teen girl. Lady In Waiting is available for purchase at

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MELISSA ARNOLD ponders the power in our grasp over the seasons of life...


few weeks ago, I gazed upon a miraculous sight as a gentle woman of the tender age of one hundred and one years old softly reached for the hand of my one year old granddaughter. As this woman’s tender, yet leather hands surrounded the smooth hands of my granddaughter, I sat amazed and awe-stuck. To watch their embrace was inspiring, and I have not been able to escape the thoughts that I had at that very moment. I had never given much reflection about the seasons that our hands, as women, experience over a lifetime. Since that bright sunny day, I have pondered the seasons of life that my hands have experienced, and I now realize that these seasons have taken their own hands and have molded me into the woman I am today. As I reflect upon these seasons of life my hands have experienced, I am reminded of the first time I actually became conscious of my hands. My family and I were making our yearly pilgrimage to share our Christmas dinner with my mother’s family. As my mom, my aunt, and I sat in the back seat of our brown 1978 Buick Skylark, my Aunt Betty whispered in my ear, “I am so jealous of your smooth, ivory hands.” At that moment, I looked down and thought, “They are just hands.” However, I kindly whispered, “Thank you” and continued peering out of the window of the car. Later that day, I remembered Aunt Betty’s words as I studied those fourteen year old hands for I guess the first time. As I examined them, I noticed that they were indeed relatively small, smooth, and extremely white, and then suddenly, I became aware of the fact that they looked exactly like my dad’s. As a teenager, the last thing I wanted were hands that looked like a white sheet of paper, and I most definitely did not want hands that resembled a man’s. However, during that spring of my life, I continued on without much thought or care about those smooth, ivory hands. Needless to say, my spring season has long passed since that fateful day as a fourteen year old, and now, as I have journeyed through the summer of my life, I realize that I would not be the woman I am today without the summer my hands have experienced. Without them, I would not have been able to nervously dial the numbers on that beige rotary dial telephone that would begin the journey of life with the young man I had loved for what seemed like my entire life. Without them, I would not have been able to stand in front of God and to pledge my love to this man as he gently wrapped his warm tanned hand around my ivory hand as we promised ourselves to each other. Without them, I would not have been able to 22 Christian Woman Spring 2012

wipe away the tears of five long years of pain I endured as each month slowly passed by without a baby to hold and to yearningly caress. However, without them, I would not have been able to wipe away the tears of joy that I felt as I finally held a precious baby boy in my hands for the first time, nor would I have known the joy of holding the sweetest little red-haired girl for the first time. And sadly, without them, I would not have been able to touch, squeeze, and pray as I held my mother’s loving hand while she slowly drifted out of my life as she took her final breath in this world. I only wanted her to touch my hand one more time, but . . . she didn’t. Since then, the summer of my life has moved on at the speed of a gazelle, and now, I have been catapulted into the autumn of my life. As a result, my smooth ivory hands have slowly taken on some added, and might I say, disheartening appearances. If my Aunt Betty could see them now, I do not think she would be so jealous. Now don’t get me wrong; they are still ivory, and they still look like my dad’s, but now, the smoothness has evolved into something completely foreign. Okay, I might as well just say it: “My hands have a billion wrinkles on them, and what’s up with that skin?” The first time I noticed that my hands had become paper-

Without them, I would not have been able to wipe away the tears of five long years of pain I endured as each month slowly passed by without a baby to hold and to yearningly caress. and with these wrinkled hands, I gingerly touched the hand of my two pound granddaughter as she struggled to survive in this world. Undoubtedly, that red-haired outspoken nineteen-year-old of mine will soon begin her new life, and these wrinkled hands will sadly, yet excitedly, wave goodbye as she heads down the road to continue on with her seasons of life. Throughout these seasons, friends have come and gone, loved ones have come and gone, and . . . hair has come and gone. Hopefully these wrinkled hands will be able to weather their final season as I stroll into the winter season of life. If I make it to be one hundred and one, I want to be able to gaze at my hands and softly utter, “You did it!” Finally, as my wrinkled, ivory hands lie folded in rest at the end of my seasons on earth, my prayer is that Jesus will gently wrap his hand around mine and lead me into paradise to begin a new season in his kingdom. All I want is to hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” CW

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thin was not the least bit soothing. I could not for the life of me figure out what was happening to me until that little red-haired girl, who is now nineteen, says, “Mom, we learned about this aspect of skin in my science class.” I anxiously replied, “Well, what’s wrong with it?” She almost stepped on her tongue as she nonchalantly blurts out these next blood-curdling words: “Mom, that’s what happens when people get old!” Just let me say that I was not the least bit comforted by her enthusiastic, scientific explanation of skin that has lost its elasticity. Admittedly, I was not going to stride willingly into the autumn of my life without a good fight, and I definitely was not willing to accept the fact that I was not in the spring or for that matter the summer of my life anymore. However, I have slowly figured out that these wrinkled hands have a story of their own to tell. Since my trip through autumn began, these wrinkled hands have sadly waved goodbye to my son as he marched off to war to fight for our freedom. With these wrinkled hands, I proudly and thankfully embraced by son as he arrived home safely from Iraq. With these wrinkled hands, I lovingly placed his hands into his bride’s hands as they began their seasons of life,

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24 Christian Woman Spring 2012


HEA WOO is a 70-year-old Christian woman who was detained in a North Korean death camp not long after discovering Jesus. She survived. Like some 25,000 other refugees from the north, Hea Woo now lives in South Korea. “For the first time in my life, I am free.” she says, “It still feels like I’m on honeymoon!”


ea Woo is a short, fragile and cheerful lady. It is hard to imagine that just three years ago this smiling woman was granted freedom after several years of detention in a Nazi-like labour camp. The story behind how she ended up there began in 1997, when Hea Woo’s eldest daughter starved to death. She was only in her twenties. Afterwards, Hea Woo’s husband left North Korea to find food in China, but he found much more than that - he became a Christian. His discovery would change the course of his, and Hea Woo’s, life forever. Escaping from North Korea is one thing… staying hidden and - worst still – betraying the regime by becoming a Christian, is another. Hea Woo’s husband was eventually arrested by secret police and sent back to North Korea, where he died in prison six months later. A few of his former cellmates later visited Hea Woo to explain how their lives had been transformed by his testimony. For a North Korean woman who, like all her countrymen, was expected to bow to the portraits of the ‘Great Leader’ Kim Il Sung and ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong Il that hang on the wall of every family home, business and subway carraige, the news was a revelation. “I was shocked to hear that my husband had become a Christian!” Hea Woo says, now. “But instinctively I realised that he had found the truth, whereas I was still living a lie. I was certain: our leaders were not godlike at all.” As Hea Woo already knew, becoming a Christian in North Korea was a

brave decision. While exact figures are impossible to establish, Christian ministry Open Doors estimates that between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians live in secret in North Korea. Based on the lowest of the two figures, a staggering 25 percent of those Christians are believed to currently be imprisoned in labour camps there. It’s for reasons like this that North Korea has sat in the Number One position on the World Watch List, Open Doors’ annual ranking of countries where Christians face the worst persecution, for the last 10 years. But despite the risk, Hea Woo’s mind was made up - if her husband had found the truth, then so would she. The journey in to China is a gamble many North Koreans take each year, and Hea Woo made the decision in the hope of finding relatives who lived there. She managed to make it across the border, but discovered, to her dismay, that her family members had already left. A church provided Hea Woo with food and shelter in the form of a safe house, and after a few years of living in China, Hea Woo’s three remaining children arrived as well. The reunited family planned to flee onwards to South Korea, but one night, two of the North Koreans staying in the safe house went out drinking and were detained by Chinese police. Hea Woo was the only other refugee in the house when the officers arrived at the address the couple gave them. She was soon handed over to the North Korean authorities, along with the two others. “The guards were relentless,” recalls Hea Woo. “They hit me with sticks and

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NORTH KOREA Leader: Kim Jong-Un Population: 24.5 million Main Religion: Juche Government: Communist dictatorship - All North Koreans are expected to worship the cult of ‘Great Leader’ Kim Il-Sung - Roughly ten million inhabitants are malnourished - Up to 70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned - arrested, tortured and even killed for professing faith in Jesus Christ HOW YOU CAN BE ‘ONE WITH THEM’ Nearly 70% of the world’s population lives in areas of severe religious restriction. Many of these people are Christians who share our faith in Christ, but who don’t share our religious freedom. Keep an eye on over the coming months, where you’ll be able to find ways to be ‘one with them’ and also order a wristband as a tangible reminder to pray for persecuted believers. INTERNATIONAL DAYS OF PRAYER The International Days of Prayer (IDOP) unite believers around the world in prayer for the persecuted church. This year, IDOP takes place 4 to 11 November.

26 Christian Woman Spring 2012

kicked me. I was so discouraged - when I came back to my prison cell, I felt completely alone. Then I heard a loud voice... ‘My beloved daughter, you are walking on water!’ I knew it came from God - I knew He hadn’t forgotten me. During the years that I spent in prison and labour camp, I heard the voice a few times. Each time it was God encouraging me.” By the end of her first few months in prison, Hea Woo’s back and throat were in constant pain, she suffered regular bleeding and was soon unable to stand unless she leant against a wall. When the guards finally took her to a hospital, the doctor told them Hea Woo would be dead within three days. “A miracle happened,” she explains with a smile. “Because the guards knew I was about to die, they gave me some extra food, and slowly I recovered. After five months I was completely healed [even though] I did not receive any medicine, I slept on the floor with no heating system… rats and bugs were everywhere. Surely God kept me alive.” Not long after her recovery (and 10 months after she was first sent to prison), Hea Woo and a number of other inmates were bundled into a truck and driven to a labour camp, deep into a mountainous region of North Korea. She says it wasn’t hard to miss the sign above the security gate; ‘DO NOT TRY TO ESCAPE’ it read, ‘YOU WILL BE KILLED’. Hea Woo quickly learned the strict, monotonous routine of the camp, which began each day at 5am in the barracks she shared with 50 other women. Like all their meals, breakfast was made up of two or three spoonfuls of rice, followed by work in the fields until 6pm, with lunch in between. The evening would herald a criticism session amongst the prisoners and ideological training. Asked now what the worst thing about her time in the camp, Hea Woo becomes silent. Then she explains; “I could not tell you. Every day was like torture. I often had to think about God’s plagues for Egypt. Being in this concentration camp felt like undergoing all those ten plagues at the same time. “People were dying and their corpses were burnt. The guards scattered the ashes over the road. We walked that road every day and each time I thought: ‘One day the other prisoners will walk over me.’” The prisoners would walk the road to the fields, twice each way. On near-empty stomachs and little hope of a future, the journey became an excruciating reminder that survival was not guaranteed. But still, despite everything, Hea Woo remained faithful to God. “I want you to write that down.” she insists. “I remained faithful and God helped me survive. Not only that, He gave me a heart to evangelise to other prisoners. Frankly, I was too scared to do it - I wanted to live. How could God ask me to tell the other prisoners about Jesus? I would die if they caught me.


“[But] God persisted. He showed me which prisoners I should approach, so I went to the person and told him or her what is in Acts 16:3 - that people have to believe in Jesus and that they and their households will be saved. It was an encouraging message for those prisoners, who walked on the edge of death each day.” Hea Woo would regularly meditate on Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” The verse drew her to sometimes share what little rice she got with others; when prisoners were sick, she would go and help them with washing their clothes. Her example encouraged other inmates, and soon a secret fellowship of Christians came into existence in the camp, despite the risk

that came with it. “I could only share what I knew and the verses I remembered,” Hea Woo admits. “On Sundays and on Christmas day, we would gather in secret places, like the toilets. There we would have a short worship meeting; I taught them hymns and we sang softly.” By now in our conversation, Hea Woo’s voice has softened to a whisper. She talks about how all five members of the little camp fellowship survived, in the end. They made sure they looked after each other, and somehow managed to stay out of trouble. Upon her release, Hea Woo again tried to get to South Korea – this time, with the help of ‘escape brokers’ organised by her son, her dream became

a reality. “I am so happy here,” Hea Woo smiles again. “I am not rich compared to most people here, but I have Jesus in my heart. He is my Shepherd – [in the camp] I felt peaceful despite the circumstances. Even though I was in ‘the valley of death’, I did not fear anything. God comforted me every day... I will dwell with him forever.” CW Name has been changed to protect identity

A survivor of a North Korean labour camp will be speaking in Australia in October. See for details.

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28 Christian Woman Spring 2012

ver felt like a red-headed stepchild? Rejection is part of life, to be sure, but the way we view that rejection can drastically affect our daily, monthly and yearly perspectives. Some of us have been deeply and tragically rejected by our own families, kicked out at seventeen perhaps, or told horrible things about our character and potential. However, rejection isn’t always as bad as it seems. In fact, truth be told, our Father loves rejects! We find assurance in the Psalms when we’re told that even when our families forsake us, our Heavenly Father takes us in (27:10). Very few of us, if any, have been as completely and wretchedly rejected as Joseph was. Recall your readings about his life, how his brothers despised him so intensely they desired to kill him and even convinced their father that he was dead. Imagine the depth of loneliness he must have felt at the bottom of that well. Certainly he imagined he would die there utterly forsaken and starved to death. Thankfully one brother, Judah, had mercy on him and instead he was sold into slavery. Again, conjure up the image of him being led away in chains. God saw, and allowed, it all because he had a greater plan for this reject. Obviously we know the story, how he became the head of Pharaoh’s house and eventually in charge of the kingdom itself. He reveals his own joy in having been spurned when he tells his brothers, “What you planned for my harm, God used for good,” (Genesis 50:20). You see, God has special plans for the unloved and the unlovely if they’ll but pay heed to him; if they’ll accept his offer of adoption. Joseph would never

Self Worth. point but GINNY MINK Ever felt rejected? We have all felt left out, lonely and alone at some shares some good news... God truly does love rejects! have thought, in that dark, damp cistern that friends are often the perpetrators. that one day he’d wear Pharaoh’s ring Such was Moses’ situation. He was and save a multitude of people. Sure, he directed by God to rescue his people and had prophetic dreams but it seems quite when he attempted to, Moses’ Hebrew probable that even he couldn’t fathom brothers asked him, “What makes you them coming to fruition in those bleak think you’re boss?” (This is a liberal moments. Neither do you know the plans paraphrase. Read the specifics in Exodus the Father has for you, but Scriptures 2:14). It’s most amusing that people quite assure us they’re for our good, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11) if readily reject those who come to help we love him and are called according to them. The Israelites were slaves to oppressive foreigners but they didn’t his purposes (Romans 8:28). Joseph wasn’t the only rejected want to accept freedom under the Biblical character, and to try to illuminate leadership of one of their own. We them all would be quite a task too large see people in our own lives, friends, for such a small space. So, for the sake poking fun at our callings. It seems very of this article, we’ll just focus on one difficult for others, even believers, to more: Moses. Perhaps we grow tired of openly accept that God has spoken to us. “Mosaic” focus, but when talking about Sure, the Israelites knew Moses’ shortCFT-180x120-0912 18/9/12 conclude 12:27 PM comings, Page 1 that he’d murdered someone, rejection we can certainly

and undoubtedly our friends know the myriad of our flaws, but if we understand our King, even slightly, we know he delights in using the unworthy. He takes joy in utilizing the lowest of these. The Israelites had much to learn and though they scorned the teacher, ultimately they were subjected to his leadership. Isn’t it wonderful that when God ordains something or someone, no manner of rejection, spurn, abuse or scorn can make him deviate from his plans. We truly serve an Awesome King and though we are unworthy, wholly, he delights to use us against the odds. He is able to take our sorry-reject-selves and make us rulers, leaders, teachers and spiritual providers. Praise him for rejection, especially when it comes upon you because of your affiliation with him!

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I DON’T have it all TOGETHER I know. Shocking isn’t it? CORALLIE BUCHANAN opens up about a moment in time that has her questioning all she ever knew...

30 Christian Woman Spring 2012

feel like a failure. Honestly. I wish I had my life all together. Fact is, I don’t. None of us do. But oh, how we like to pretend we do. The reality hits hard, the rubber meets the road. We don’t have as much grip as we appear to have. The tyres begin to skid, the black marks begin to show. We get out the paint and try to cover it up. No, we are alright, we have our life all carefully mapped out ahead of us. Until that fateful day that something happens. Someone decides to throw a spanner in that well-oiled machine of yours that you call a life. Just when you thought everything was perfect, something comes in to mess it up and make chaos out of organisation. The journey suddenly gets very rocky. In the last six months, I was confronted with a very bizarre situation. This was something that I never saw coming. Neither my mind nor my heart was prepared for what was to come. I am going to take a personal risk here and share some intimate details with you. I know a lady called Jane* who has been a lifelong friend. As a young child, I looked up to her in everything. I believed every word she told me. As the older out of the two of us, and with a lot more life experience than I had, she was my childhood idol. My life was an extremely difficult one. I have experienced the divorce of my parents not once, but three times. Growing up, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety attacks. I had an autistic brother. I was failing at academics. I was victimised at school. I was bitter and angry. I hated life. I wanted out. Let’s just say that my life was a mess. The one constant thing in life was Jane. Sure, she complained to me a lot about how bad her own life was. However, when I truly needed somebody to support me, Jane was always there. Late one Sunday afternoon, I received a rather abusive phone call from Jane. I was quite shocked, because the call was completely unexpected. I had seen Jane struggle for many years with a lot of emotional problems, and had seen her turn on other people. I never expected it to happen to me. Out of her own pain and refusal to deal with the truth of her past, Jane would react in anger towards anybody who would challenge her to do something about her bitterness. Eventually, I had to confront Jane about these same issues. I thought by virtue of who I was to Jane, she might actually listen to what I had to say. I was wrong. I left my meeting with Jane thinking that a little space between the two of us would be a good thing for both sides. It seemed to go well at the meeting, but afterwards was when I discovered the most painful news. What I thought would turn out to be a reunion of our close friendship turned out to be a disaster. Not only did


Jane withdrawn all of her love from me, but she now treats me like her worst enemy. In an instant I was cut off, both emotionally and physically by the one person who up until recently has been the closest friend I had. The most stable relationship in my life was falling apart. It was then that I began to realise a great many truths about my life. Jane used me as her ‘emotional dumping ground’. When she had a problem, I heard about it. I was a child and not designed for being Jane’s emotional support. I began to question my entire life. I questioned my memories of my childhood. Of the memories I did have, what ones were actually true? How many lies had I been fed by Jane? How much of what I remembered about the past was true? My testimony of forgiveness was a big part of my life, and now my whole memory of my childhood was being questioned. Were my memories of events just fabrications based on the lies I was being fed? What I thought had been love was actually manipulation. As long as I was listening to Jane’s problems, everything was fine. Once I challenged this status quo, I was cut off. I have been driven to my knees like never before. When you begin to question your life in the same depth that I have had to do the last six months, you have no other option but to go straight to your knees. I don’t understand why Jane turned on me. There are things that I have tried to understand over the last six months, and I just can’t get my head around any of it. I just can’t make sense of what happened, and I don’t think I ever will. It is times like these where you realise that your life is completely out of control. There are even more things in my life right now which make me feel like a failure (but I won’t go into those). Occasionally, life throws curve balls at you, and you just have to get used to the fact that you might drop a few. It is okay not to have everything together. Recently, God reminded me of a very awesome promise to hold onto. It comes from a well-known Proverb, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 4:5-6)

my curly paths straight if I will submit my life to him. I thought this person would always be in my life. I thought they would always be there for me. Life has thrown me a really curly one, and I have not been able to grab a hold of it. I dropped this one. But that’s okay. You too may have some things in your life which force you to rely on God like never before. It may not be the loss of a very important relationship that you thought you would always have. It may not be questioning the memories of your past. Whatever it is that you are facing, know that if you commit your way to God, he will eventually make everything right again. Like me, you also need to ‘become okay’ with not having your life all together. Face it, you are human. You don’t know what trials are coming around the corner. Things may happen to you that make you question your very existence on this earth. You need to be okay with this. We rely far too much on feeling stable. Sometimes I think God needs to shake us up a bit in order to keep us from falling asleep in our Christian walk. He needs to knock out the props from underneath us. That way we rely on him all the more. Be okay with feeling out of control. Be okay with not having your life all together. If you feel like you don’t, choose to be okay with it. Remember, even if you can’t see the path in front of you, God will make the path straight if you trust in him and follow his way. CW

At the moment, my paths seem very curly. I don’t know what is coming around the next corner. My whole life and my whole testimony has come under question. Nothing is as I thought it would be. I have questioned myself as I have never done before. However, I find comfort that although the journey may sometimes be unclear, God has promised to make Join the conversation online: 31


of the matter‌

JUSTIN GARDNER is a pastor in Melbourne and runs a church that has planted two orphanages in Kenya. He comes from a criminal background and has a heart to see people become all that God has created them to be. He knows what abandonment entails‌ Lynn Goldsmith 32 Christian Woman Spring 2012

Real life.

every child has a destiny within them. “God has created them for something. They need more than just food, clothing and shelter. They need mentors, mums and dads, teachers to release their destiny


o see The Lost Found and The Found Crowned- let me explain. I meet many people who are Christians and they don’t seem to know who they are in Christ and how awesome they are and the authority in Christ that they carry. They are saved and seem to be sitting and going through the motions while they wait to get to Heaven …So I have a passion to inspire people to pursue Christ’s best for their life and the world around them, so that when they die the world will know that they have been here… So what makes a guy who has led a life of crime decide to start churches and orphanages? Well, Justin Gardner’s background has given him great empathy and compassion for children who are abused and forsaken. He is one courageous and inspiring man and this is what following Christ is all about. His story goes like this: He was brought up in a Catholic home in a place called Sunshine in the western suburbs of Melbourne, which is a really rough place. He grew up with five sisters and a violent alcoholic father. He had always been in trouble at school – his dad was very hard on him. “He would make me swim 30 – 40 laps at the indoor pool before school in Grade 4 and he would withdraw his love from me if I didn’t make the times,” Justin says. “He was a very hard man, an alcoholic and violent and abusive.” His mum and dad eventually divorced and his mum was left with Justin and five sisters. “I was very out of control, no one could help me - psychologists, counselors, big brother programs – my mum tried everything, but nothing could help me. I was probably drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes at 10 or 11. I started smoking dope and was selling it at 12. I scraped through primary school and mum sent me to a Christian Brothers school. She thought their strictness would help, but it didn’t. I was out of home by 14 and out of school by 14.” Justin had been stealing ever since his hands had been moving and he says that if you asked his mum when he started stealing, she would say it was before the womb. Justin lived a criminal life until age 22. He explains, “In that time I had people witness to me – they could come out on the street and talk to me about Christ and being born again. I would spit on them and say things about their mums to try and prove that it wasn’t real.” Then one of his sisters became a Christian – she was attending an Assemblies of God church and she would pray for family members. So one by one all of his sisters made a decision for Christ in different places and churches. His mum got saved and he was the last one. He was suicidal at 22 and says he was going to murder somebody. He was close to taking his life, but he remembered

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Real life.

Far left: Justin in his former days; Above: Kickboxing champions Stan and George Longindis with Justin; Inset: Justin at his book signing

what the Christians had told him: that he could have a personal relationship with Christ simply by asking Him into his life. “I realised I had never asked Him in as Lord of my life – I had been brought up in a form of Christianity or religion where it was chosen for me by my parents, but I remembered what the Christians said and it rang true,” he states. “So I called out for Him one night and asked Him into my heart. I started going to church and things started changing in my mind and my heart. I still had suicidal thoughts for about six months intensely and then one day God set me free of that and 16 years later I have never had a suicidal thought again.” Justin explains that his heart went from being someone who was very selfish, to a man who was changed in so many ways. He would be in church, crying in every service. His life was so 34 Christian Woman Spring 2012

touched by God that he wasn’t in church to connect, but just to feel the presence of God. Touching God was his only driver to be in church. “I felt He had become my Lord,” he says. “In church I still had a cap on and dark glasses and still covered in gold chains right through the services, but I would be crying all the time through the worship. What was happening was God was healing me of the pain and abuse in my life. My heart was becoming softer after every church service. I would continually go off to every service, anything that was on because I felt things were happening in me.” The church he was attending had gone through a rough time with the founder leaving and doing his own thing – people were really disillusioned and hurt, according to Justin. He goes on to say, “I see that God had one son and He

was a missionary and so if the church loses this it becomes focused inwardly, and that’s a dangerous place to be. So I knew I had to do something.” About seven years before Justin went on his first missions trip he attended a missions conference, leading to an experience that changed his Life. He could see in his mind’s eye that he was holding babies in Africa. “I was just crying uncontrollably – it was crazy, creating a scene at a mission’s conference! The weird thing about that was I had a fear of Africa. I don’t know why; I certainly am not racist – but I also had a fear of public speaking and a fear of heights and flying and all those things I do for a living now.” Justin felt he needed to go over to Kenya. A year before he had sent a team over and fighting had broken out in Kenya. They had shut the airport down and there were mobs in the street cutting

peoples’ heads off, and a young group of guys from his church were caught in the midst of that. Justin’s church was sending money over there and these guys were locked in a compound at night – in the daytime they were going out and buying food from farms because children were left orphaned everywhere. It was a disturbing scenario. Justin and his team went back a year later to plant a kids home and for two weeks they learnt about agriculture and farming, dealing with corruption and governments and business people. They travelled into villages with social workers and did reports on children to make sure that people were telling the truth, and also to find the worse kids – those who were desperate to be looked after. “I met a lady who was 104 living in a hut in the middle of nowhere in Kenya in the hills,” Justin says. “She was with her great-great-great grandchildren because AIDS had killed all the family and we got to bring those kids in. We chose 20 kids. I was going into villages where there were no parents, just kids – and grandparents – a generation removed. “While I was over there I got to minister to people with AIDS and to

lead people to Christ who had AIDS and pray for families and children. It was quite incredible.” Justin also got to hold babies who had been abandoned and left in gutters and sewers to die. While he was holding those precious babies he remembered what he had seen in his mind’s eye in that missions conference seven years ago, and he felt like he was walking in destiny. They successfully planted their first kids’ home with 20 children which was an incredible happening in just two weeks. “A guy in the slums in Kenya sought us out – he was probably one of the richest guys there,” Justin says. “He had seen our team there a year before – he was shocked they came back, it drew his attention and he basically opened doors for us into the government and elsewhere – it was quite amazing.” Justin was getting reports back that there was a 4 year old girl sleeping out the front of the orphanage. Unfortunately the government only allowed 20 children in a compound, so Justin put this situation to his church and they set up another orphanage. Thus, this 4 year old girl and another 19 children were rescued. She

was HIV positive and if she stayed in the slums she would have been sexually abused. “We had to do employment agreements and hire cooks,” says Justin. “It is expensive – we take full responsibility for the kids – all their medical care, schooling. We have upgraded their schooling to the best we can give them because we want to treat them like we treat our kids in the western world. Not just provide food, clothing and shelter - no-one looks at their children like that here and they want to raise them up to be the great adults they are meant to be – whatever that is.” Justin was kicking a soccer ball with one of the boys in the orphanage. He was thinking about what this boy would be – a doctor, police officer, a writer and so forth. He says that every child has a destiny within them. “God has created them for something. They need more than just food, clothing and shelter. They need mentors, mums and dads, teachers to release their destiny. This affected me so much that I came back and changed the name of my church.” CW Justin Gardner is the Senior Minister of Destiny Christian Center

Justin has written a book called CrimeSon. What inspired him to write the book? “I had hit about 10 years of flat out ministry. My upbringing in ministry in church was a really busy one. I was out 4 -5 nights a week, I was travelling a lot – just a growing church, lots and lots of work and hardship, dealing with people with debts and sexual abuse. All sorts of things.

From the dark streets of death and crime in the UNDERBELLY of Melbourne, crimeson is the rough and raw account of Justin’s life and how God saved him..

“On the 10th year of ministry I hit a wall and probably started breaking down a little bit and I just hopped on a plane to go to Kenya to plant a kid’s home to rescue orphans off the street and start a church there. This church that I am now the pastor of was going through a really hard time, where the founder of it had left not long before that – there was a lot going on in the church. Justin GARDNER

“My hands were starting to shake and my mind was starting to switch off – while I was driving my children to school, my mind was starting to switch off and on. I can’t explain it any more than that. I had a second blank in my mind which was quite frightening, thinking that I might kill my kids while driving a car. The pressure was intensifying in my life and it needed my leadership and at the time I couldn’t do much about it. I didn’t know if I would make it through that time. So I wrote this book for my kids – I’ve got two sons – in case I didn’t make it through. I didn’t want them to think that it was the church’s fault or to have any hard feelings towards God. I wanted them to know my life story, that there are no regrets of what I have done for Jesus; I fully love what I’ve done for him.”

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