Our worker Jennifer Garibay shares her testimony.
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.
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.
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.