Our worker Jennifer Garibay shares her testimony.

Before Jesus

New Jersey, where Jennifer is from
New Jersey, where Jennifer is from

I came into this world like an 80s power ballad – the illegitimate child of a police officer and a waitress at a diner. I wasn’t wanted. My home life was a mess – my angry, controlling stepdad found fault in everything I did. My father subjected me to sexual abuse nearly every other weekend. I was bullied mercilessly at school. But at 11 years old, I knew that God was going to be ‘my boss’ – that I was important to him.

But all the abuse led to a battle with depression and a suicide attempt just before my 18th birthday. Sadly, I became angry at the God I once loved. Why hadn’t he stopped the abuse? After that, it was sex, drugs and rock–n–roll – none of which healed any wounds.

Meeting Jesus

After a few years of this, I grew tired. I met a girl who cared enough to remind me of God’s love. I asked God to forgive me and take full control of my life. Life, the world and sin had broken me – shattered me. I’d become sharp, hurtful and dangerous. But God’s power and grace came like a mighty ocean to smooth out my edges – to give me a different purpose.

Life now

God uses my story to break down barriers with those who struggle to trust because of abuse or rejection. Recently, a contact was surprised to hear we’d had a similar history and wanted to hear more about my path to healing. Others want to know how I overcame the physical and mental side effects of abuse to move to England from the United States, hold down a job and have healthy friendships. Sharing my testimony always leads to questions that can only be answered by ‘God’. But it’s quite personal – I’m not always ready to expose those parts of myself to others. But God hasn’t let my story go to waste. He’s using it for his glory both as a missionary for London City Mission and in the rest of my life.


This article first appeared in Changing London.


Jennifer Garibay

Missionary at 105, our centre in Vauxhall

Because London needs Jesus