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On 30.6.95 my life was to be totally turned around. At 13 I had started abusing prescription pills, this was the first step in a drug battle which was to last 15 years. Like all drug addictions my journey was progressive. Starting with pills and solvents around home and bought over the counter, I soon moved onto marijuana, hash, alcohol, magic mushrooms and LSD. For a time it was controlled. However, my dance with drugs was to have a cruel backlash. When my drug use began to seriously affect my work I began to use speed as an attempt to hold off the slowness and irritability that were the aftermath of nights on other drugs. I first used Heroin while on holiday in Australia and it quickly became my drug of choice. I would use cocaine or speed only if heroin wasn't available. I was now in search of the "rush" of shooting up more than the actual effect of the drug.
I came from a family where spiritualist activities were the norm. I had taken part in seances and, as children were "more open" to the spiritual realm, I have distinct memories of being asked to share what I was seeing or hearing to my mother and her friends. In fact my first vivid memory of a demonic encounter was at about 3. My mother and father separated and, although I was no longer encouraged in the spiritism and witchcraft type activities, I continued to experience demonic manifestations and would often find myself "automatic writing", practicing divinity through dreams and hearing voices. This active spiritual side of my life, combined with a father caught in full blown alcohol addiction, and myself being sexually abused as my parents battled out custody in the courtrooms, gave fear a massive stronghold in my life.
I was an incredibly introverted child, unable to establish or maintain relationships with others and preferring to spend my time in a dreamworld, in the bush or with animals rather than people. When I was 10 I wrote a poem titled "Hate" for a school exercise. The teacher recoiled with horror at the intensity of what I had written. She had me moved out of her class shortly after and rang my father to instruct him to seek psychological help for me. My fathers reaction was one of condemnation but no action. To him "mental illness" was the lowest form of human condition, and from then on I was threatened with being institutionalized whenever I showed any emotion. Soon after I moved into a state of total rebellion and became a behavioural problem for teachers until I left school.
I also became heavily involved in crime. I left home at 16 to live with a boyfriend. I was to have a string of "de facto" relationships and at 19 became involved with a man 17 years my senior who was heavily involved in both blue collar and white collar crime. I learnt the power of deceit and was very "successful" at whatever illegal activity I was involved in. This supported my drug habit and ensured I retained a feeling of being "in control" when in fact my life was totally out of control. All the while I worked and appeared on the outside to have a very successful career. It was all part of "the front". As long as I was socially acceptable on the outside I didn't need to face the isolation, desperation and torturous futility that was going on inside of me.
My relationships became progressively more abusive and violent. By the time I was 25 I could no longer maintain "the front" and left New Zealand to start again in Australia. My life went from bad to worse. Now I was addicted to harder drugs than had been available in New Zealand and I unwittingly got caught up in a crime ring which now meant my life was under threat, and was in the most abusive relationship I had experienced yet. I was incapable of working and was caught in the torment of mental illness. I ran for my life and for 6 months lived in a security refuge for women. The bars on the windows there were to keep me safe, but they were symbolic of the prison I was entombed in and the ever increasing fear of the outside world.
By the time I was able to move on and after a string of nervous breakdowns, the demonic voices and manifestations were now so strong that people would not stay where I lived because of the spiritual happenings they would experience there. I was totally out of control, gripped with anxiety and agoraphobia for periods and then was outgoing, promiscuous and wheeling and dealing the next. My outbursts of temper and physical strength terrified me. My behaviour became increasingly more bizarre and I was heavily involved in the occult. I had dabbled for sometime in astral projection and was not being involuntarily taken out of my body.
It was after a shot of heroin one night that I was again taken out of my body. The terror was incredible this time with demons everywhere, but although I sensed their presence I could only catch glimpses of their red eyes and they would disappear as my eyes probed the surrounding landscape for them. I knew that they wanted to fully possess me and I was in the most intense state of terror. In an instant I became like wind and felt a peace like I had never before experienced. For the first time in my life I was not alone and we were rushing over the sea and I heard the words "new dawn" spoken into my spirit. I had encountered God for the first time.
I came to and another addict was reviving me as I had stopped breathing. This experience was the first of many encounters I was to have in the spiritual realm with God as He drew me into Him. I was so wounded and mistrusting of humanity and my mind was so far gone that God moved "not by might, not by power but by His Spirit" to save me. I often wonder if it was someone's prayers that had moved God's hand during that time.
In a series of divinely appointed events I was to attend a church service and God moved upon me. He spoke clearly and said "believe in God, trust in God, act in God's name". Those words are continuing to come into being. I sought help from the Pastor and moved into a drug rehabilitation programme where the Holy Spirit was the healer, where miracles weren't hoped for but relied on.
I had nothing to give God but hate. That's all He wanted. He wanted a relationship with me and He never insisted it be a good one. We had an abusive relationship and I spent my first three months praying for Him to take me home and hating Him for my life. But God is faithful. Jesus meets us where we are at.
True freedom is waking up without the desire to hate; it's waking up with the ability to love. It's waking up to embrace the day ahead; not praying for death to come and release you from the hell that is your life. It's feeling the breeze brush gently over your skin, not being thankful for the numbness of years of abuse. It's hearing a child laugh and finding pleasure in it, not rejecting the unborn child within you because you cannot bear to bring a child into the pain which is your experience of life. It's accepting creation not destruction.
True freedom is the light breaking into your darkness and peace replacing torment. It is realising you are not alone and that there is a way out of the obsessive whirlpool of drug and alcohol addiction. It's when freedom replaces the bondage of drugs. It's when miracles aren't something you dream about; it's when you are the miracle.
On the 30th of June two years ago I began my relationship with the Lord. It was almost ironic that the date happened to be the end of the financial year, because I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I wanted to change but did not believe I could. But God changed me.
He has healed me of the drug addiction, the manic depression and a heart murmur I had developed. He has taken the tragedy that was my life and shown me it was also a melody and a comedy. I am so thankful that I have witnessed God's miracles in both my life and other addicts around me. Thankful that my first experience of God's ministry was in a place where his power was manifest in my life and the lives around me.
Often, as Christians, our approach to life is from a position of weakness and self consciousness. Starved of God's love and enabling power and bound up on fear, we lose sight of the reality of a world of people dying outside; addicts caught in the throes of addiction, people so deceived and seduced into the occult as they search for truth, career climbers blinded to their spiritual yearning. People stuffing their Jesus shaped holes with money, sex, relationships, business or whatever they can just to fill the emptiness.
Often we are a church that does not know the power of God, because we have not learnt to walk in or appreciate the victories in our lives. God is calling each of us. We must learn to trust a God that will move powerfully as we embrace, not shrink from the task ahead. We cannot excuse ourselves by being too wounded or too busy to love. This battle is for eternal life not temporal. We must be aggressive in our commitment to His great Commission. We must expect miracles, signs and wonders to be manifest and stop limiting God. We are to walk in the victory Jesus went to Calvary to win for us. The battle belongs to the Lord and we are his chosen people. And we must do all this because at the end of the day, people are dying and Jesus came to bring life not death.
God's transforming power is truly amazing!
If you would like to meet the Jesus who changed Melanie's life, click here.
Source: Melanie Brown, Newcastle, Australia.
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