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Early years in Mauritius
Hello, my name is Verda and I was born in Mauritius. I have 2 older brothers and 2 younger sisters. I was raised with a mixed religious background and I was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church. My parents were separated and my mother left to work in Lebanon to support us. We were left with friends and family to look after us. Unfortunately, these people could not be trusted and we were often neglected and abused.
I used to visit the most beautiful churches in Mauritius as I wanted to know what God is like, and ask Him how He could let me live like this. I knew all the saints’ names but I still couldn’t find who God was.
My fears and anxieties grew and I would often cry myself to sleep. It was only when my eldest brother became a young man that I felt safe again under his care and protection.
War in Lebanon
I was sent to be with my mother in Lebanon, as I was now a young lady. By then, Lebanon was a war zone and was being bombed every day due to a religious war. I began to smoke heavily and my mother feared for my life so she sent me to live in London where my brothers and sisters had made their homes.
New life in London
When I first met Costas, my family already knew him well through his father’s car trade and through the restaurant Costas managed. We soon became good friends and shared our problems. We fell in love and had a quiet registry wedding.
A few years later, we were blessed with our first 2 children. They were baptised into the Church of England, as the Greek Church where Costas had gone from a young age told us that our mixed cultural marriage was not a good example to others. Although Costas was welcome, I didn’t fit in with their rules, traditions and ceremonies. We felt discriminated and condemned. Worst of all our actions had consequences on others, as we were now arguing in front of the children about religion which hurt and confused them.
By the time our last son Andreas was born, the Greek Church had a change of heart and agreed to baptise him after I was baptised. Shortly before the baptism, I received the call that would shatter me. Costas’ sister told me that she didn’t want to be a Godparent anymore, as I had been hiding behind God and using her religion to hide my superstitious background. I felt abandoned by God with no hope.
Finding God’s peace and forgiveness
I knew that day that I needed God and I went to my nearest church which was St. Saviours in Walthamstow. A lady called Penny could see I was very upset and comforted me. I told her I did not know who God was anymore. She told me that if I truly wanted to know who God is, I should come to the bible study on Monday morning and ask for a lady called Katherine.
When I arrived on that Monday morning, I was made to feel very welcome. Each of the ladies there gave a short testimony about their lives and I soon realised that I was not the only one with problems. We prayed and read passages from the Bible that were filled with hope and compassion.
I was now reading and taking in the living Word of God. I also started going to a second meeting during the week at David & Jane GIbbs’ house. Katherine was leading us through the Christianity Explored course every week and I realised that God was mighty to save.
I read the Bible at home, prayed many times a day and started to surrender my fears to God, through Jesus His only Son. I asked for forgiveness and I started to change from the inside out. God also helped me to quit smoking through his power.
This caught my husband’s attention and he asked me why I was changing for the better. I told him I now had complete faith and trust in God and I did not fear people anymore. I was walking with a newness of life and praying for wisdom in every difficult situation.
We were praying for perseverance in my life and I knew I had to forgive others if I was to be forgiven. The only way to God was by accepting the Prince of peace as my Lord and saviour. There was now for the first time in years peace in our lives, and when Costas agreed to attend a service at Grace Church Wanstead I knew my prayers were answered.