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Girl Meets Boy: The Bad and the Blessed

My First Encounter

The man who kidnapped and raped me for five days told me his plan. He planned to take me to Miami, sell me as a sex slave, and put me on a boat to China. God, however, intervened! I was a child of His, having asked Jesus into my heart when I was 10 years old. It was God who put fear in the man’s heart and kept him from fulfilling his plan.

The day I returned home, the only comment my father made was, “Well, the queen has come home!” I was always the one my father took things out on. He was a hurt person, and he hurt people. It appeared to me that it didn’t matter what had happened to me. So I didn’t tell my family. Besides, the man had warned me that if I told, he would kill my family.

Two days later at school, my best friend came up to me and said, “Where in the world have you been? I’ve been so concerned about you.” I broke down and sobbed, and my friend led me to the dean of girls. I told my story, and in the end, the dean called my parents and the police. I was the man’s seventh victim.

One of the worst things my father said to me after this was that I “got what I asked for.” He also said that it was a subject my family didn’t want to discuss. For fifteen years I carried around in my mind and heart that I did this to myself, and that I got what I asked for.

My First Marriage

By 1984 I was out on my own—and married. My marriage was so rocky that I wanted to rededicate myself to Christ. The relationship I had with my husband was filled with infidelity, drugs, alcohol, and abuse. To him, I was a non-person. He didn’t look at me, talk to me, or acknowledge my existence. Often I would come home from work, lie on my bed, and cry out to the Lord.

One day my husband told me that he had to leave our city because there were warrants out for his arrest. He later called me—from a bar where he was with another woman—to tell me that a guy had walked up to them and said, “I don’t know who you are, but you need to go home to your wife.” This encouraged my faith and fueled my prayers for my husband. He did return home, but before long, he was gone again with his new lady friend.

During this time I was working at a church, answering the phone lines when people called in needing prayer. I would go for an early morning prayer time and then work the prayer lines. One morning I was struggling with hopelessness and my past as I tried to pray. I lay down on my stomach with my hands palms up, when all of the sudden I felt I was in Daddy’s lap. I felt unconditional love, acceptance, and peace. (I never remember a time when my earthly father hugged me.) In that moment I desperately needed God to hug me, to assure me that I was loved and that I had a loving Daddy.

I continued to pray for my husband and to seek God for him and for our marriage. When he called and said he wanted to come home, I so wanted to believe that he would not leave again. But it was not to be. As he was leaving for the last time, we rode together to the bus depot. I was looking out the window with tears streaming down my cheeks when—out of a clear blue sky—it poured rain for 15 to 20 seconds and then stopped. Out of these moments of refreshing rain, I heard the Lord say, “I will never leave you or forsake you; I will be with you to the end.” God was planting a seed of hope in my broken heart.

I believed God wanted something better for my life than this, but I was so devastated by this act of rejection that I slowly turned away from God for a season. For the next five years, as I tried to mend my broken heart, I wandered on and off of the right path. Although I made many bad choices and decisions, God’s faithfulness remained in my life.

The Broken Path

Longing to be married, I started dating a man that I met at a club, and we became engaged. My fiancé was excessively abusive. The full fury of the devil lashed out at me, and numerous times I didn’t know if that day would be my last. During the two years we were together, I was taking a full load at school as well as working two jobs. Somehow, through the grace of God, I graduated with a 3.86 GPA.

At times, the spiritual and mental abuse was worse than the physical. I would arrive home from school, and my fiancé would lock me in the bedroom for hours, calling me horrid names, even saying I was the devil himself. Then I would have to get up and study for tests or classes and carry on as if everything were normal. Twice my fiancé almost killed me. One time he threw me into a bookshelf and dislocated two discs in my back, which fortunately the doctor was able to manipulate back into place.

I finally cried out to God, asking Him to help me get out of this mess, and promising to serve Him all of the days of my life. I told God I didn’t want to date anyone anymore—I didn’t want to be hurt again. I told Him I would wait until He brought me the husband He had chosen for me. I knew that since God had established the foundations of the world, He was big enough to let me know the one that He had chosen for me. My own track record of choosing was pretty lousy.

My spiritual maturity and walk with the Lord was definitely a work in progress. God brought into my life a Christian counselor, who gently befriended me. One day she queried, “Do little children ask to be abused?” I angrily responded, “No, of course not!” With that, she looked into my eyes and said, “Neither did you.” The chains just broke off, and I finally saw truth. God was taking what Satan meant for evil and was turning it for good!

The Bridegroom Arrives

In September 1994, I decided to move to Dallas to look for work and to be nearer my mother and stepfather. One evening, I went with them to church, and the pastor put us in groups of three or four to pray together. I met a man that evening, and—I lack words to describe it—I sensed in my spirit that he was going to become my husband.

Randall’s wife had left him ten years prior, and he was praying and believing that God would restore his marriage. Randall never took off his wedding ring, never went to a singles church event, and he never dated another woman for ten years.

In February 1995, Randall’s ex-mother-in-law wrote to let him know that his wife had remarried in November of 1994. God helped Randall to mourn for her. And God miraculously spoke to Randall through the words of his pastor. He explained to Randall that all of the prayers he had prayed for his first wife, God would now pour out the blessing on someone else.

Randall and I began to be together in groups and in casual settings. On walks, we talked about his past life, his business, and what the church meant to him. Long-time friends began to say that they thought we would be a great couple and just right for each other. During the spring months we began going out to eat together and on picnics, but up to this point everything was low key—at Randall’s request. Then in April at a home fellowship, a prison chaplain asked if we were seeing each other. Randall revealed that we were and that God had been working in our lives. Everyone was thrilled and encouraged us.

On Palm Sunday, Randall proposed to me in the most unusual way. He asked to speak at the end of the morning worship. He recounted the story in the Bible (Matthew 25) of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Only the virgins who were prepared with oil in their lamps were able to enter with the bridegroom into the wedding banquet. Then Randall dropped down on one knee and asked, “Paula, if you have oil in your lamp, and you are ready, will you marry me?” Our pastor ushered me up onto the platform and I hugged Randall, crying. In the quietness, I spoke, “I would be honored to be your wife.” The pastor’s wife handed Randall a bouquet of roses to give me, and the church burst into shouts of joy.

In May, the assistant pastors of our church hosted a couple’s shower for us at their home, and the presence of God was so strong. The entire party anointed us and prayed over us. On May 27, 1995, Randall and I were married.

I can only say a gigantic “thank you” to my phenomenal Daddy (that would be “Lord”) for His astounding work and gracious hand in my life. When I was going through the pain of my previous life, I had read Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” God has indeed fulfilled His Word in my life, and I am eternally grateful.

(Paula and her husband, Randall, live in the Dallas metroplex and are active in their church, the Word of Life Ministry Center. Grateful for God’s transforming work in her life, Paula shares her heart of understanding with young women who struggle to overcome the pain of their past. She knows God will continue His work in her until she sees Him face to face, in heaven. )

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20150102
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Jan-Mar 2015. CCMUSA.