Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

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A True Story

by Annette Stafford

My Journey to a Relationship with God and How He Healed Me and Made Me Whole Again.

In 1990  my husband and I were introduced to a Chinese man who had met my mother-in-law through her work in psychiatry as a doctor.

My mother in law formed a close bond with this man and over time he became a friend of our family.  In fact he concentrated his attention on my husband and me particularly and we felt a real need to help him. 

My mother-in-law in her professional capacity was able to nominate his wife to Australia from China and soon she became pregnant and they had a baby boy.  We were delighted for them.  They resided in a home we owned right next door to us for which they paid a nominal rental. We paid their telephone accounts and we were on call for them whenever they needed us - in every sense they were an extension of our own family. One evening they approached us to ask if we would consider helping them begin a business importing goods to Australia from China.  We had no interest because we already had a business of our own and plenty of stresses with a large young family but we also wanted to help them because they insisted they needed our English skills to be successful so we agreed to finance this venture and became Directors of the new company.  I spent much time canvassing and marketing the imported products from China.

Over time, with various other people helping, we were able to secure his whole family out from China.  That included his wife, his sister, his mother, his father, his wife's mother and father.  They all lived in our little house beside us and we used our garage to house all the goods brought out in container ships that we had purchased on behalf of their business.

It just seemed to creep up on us how entwined our lives had become and we were oblivious to the fact that there was a huge imbalance forming in our relationship.  Over time we did notice that they all seemed rather lazy and didn't contribute much, if anything, to the business but they were always so nice and warm towards us that any negative feelings were pushed to the background.

One day, about 7 years after befriending this man I opened my eyes and I saw some huge irregularities.  I tried to ignore them but it became too apparent and I tried to tell my husband about a few things I had discovered but his eyes weren't open then.  Tensions grew between us and I didn't know it but the family we felt we were helping had banded together obviously seeing a window of opportunity for themselves.   In that time I had little idea that they were working against me in every possible way.  All the while I had never done anything at all to ever hurt them and so it never occurred to me that I may have been vulnerable in any way.

I was wrong.   After two years of deception my marriage was in tatters and everything I had ever worked for was slipping away.  I became isolated and mistrusting.  I had no power over the situation because these people had successfully divided my husband and me with a web of deception.  

I didn't believe in God before but I started to bargain with Him.  I asked Him to please help me.  I prayed that if He would just help bring my family back together then I would never doubt Him and I would live by his rules rather than my own.

Very slowly changes began happening.  I prayed daily and I became dependent on prayer.  In my world things were very much out of control but when I prayed I felt that my prayers were being heard.  Within time I had no doubt that God was helping me - to begin with changes were small and then the most extraordinary things started to happen for me. 

In time I was able to expose the family working against me for what they were and I walked away leaving everything in God's Hands. Prior to any relationship with God, I would have felt a need to 'get them back' but I had made a pact with God and promised to live by His rule. Finding my faith allowed me to walk away knowing that I was not their judge and though much  healing needed to be family was still together.

The family didn't go quietly however, and their vendetta which was aimed entirely at me continued for a short time afterwards.  Lucky for me my husband stood firmly in support and I know that God was with us all the way.

That's not the end of the story.

The anger and hurt didn't just disappear.  It manifested itself in a deep angry resentment.  I didn't realise at that time how easy it is to make indefinable behaviour transfer to a definable person.  The unconscious racist undercurrent was being reinforced at every turn.  Suddenly I was so irrational and emotional that what I saw wasn't the actions of human beings ruining my life but rather the actions of a specific race of people.  If they had been German I would have had that bias against all Germans, if they had been black I would have manifested my anger and judgment towards all black people.  As it turns out these people were Chinese and I therefore wrongly placed my free floating anger on Asian people in general.   At the height of my deep feelings of racism I was at Eastwood one day and a Chinese lady was crossing the road in front of my car. She was taking a long time to walk across the road and my foot on the accelerator flirted with the idea of mowing her down.  Rationally, I knew that what I was doing and thinking was so wrong but emotionally I couldn't stop myself from feeling that way. 

To make matters worse, within a short space of time my eldest daughter fell in love with a Chinese man, my eldest son with a Japanese girl and my middle son with a Vietnamese girl.  I was being confronted at every level.

A Chinese woman who had done small amounts of sewing for me was hard not to like and despite my gnawing resentment of Asians at the time...I really liked Jill.  I particularly liked that she wasn't greedy in any way.  In fact she charged me so little for the sewing that there were times when I was embarrassed.  I questioned her on her prices and she said that she gave my money to her church.  That really struck me - Here was a Chinese woman who also must have been good inside.

The cold hatred within my darkened heart formed the tiniest crack and in came some light.

Slowly, slowly I met other people from Asian countries who were obviously good people.  Over time I came to Church and from my very first visit  I met Chinese people who made a huge impression on me.   They invited my husband and I to lunch and we were the recipients of wonderful hospitality, generosity and kindness.  Over time a relationship with this lovely family started to grow and then the healing process for me began in earnest. 

Its easy to keep the quotes of Jesus for special occasions to show people that we know the quotes of the bible but its more important to live those teachings.  In my case I couldn't see the log in my own eyes and yet I had already cast the first stone.  Like all of us who cannot see, I only really hurt myself. 

The world is full of these bias'.  Who amongst us cannot look at a Middle Eastern person on an airplane and not draw parallels with terrorism?

I can honestly tell you today that, through grace, I am a reformed racist.  The friends I met at my church I now consider them to be my family, we are that close.

If anyone had told me just 7 years ago that I would be having a half Chinese grand-daughter I would have jumped off the Gap. 

Today I shudder at the thought of how I was before and I feel very ashamed of myself. 

Today, with the grace of God in my heart, I couldn't be more happy and proud.  I think its exotic and wonderful that she is a little Eurasian girl.

I know that God heals and I know that God performs miracles.... because I am living proof of it.

Galatians 3.28     There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for all are one in Christ Jesus.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 23 - June/July 2008 > A True Story