This week's Lenten reading is John 15:1-17 and is at Afternoon tea (None) and the video for this week introduced by Bishop Justin is from Nick. It all ties together for me with Wesley Sunday and yesterday’s celebration of John and Charles Wesley.
I shared some of my story last week and Nick and I have a lot in common. After reading the passage in John and watching the video, I am going to share a little more of my story. The only male role-model I had growing up was my great-grandfather. I was raised in his home, he used to call me his little angel. He died when I was 7 years old, that was the end of my safety. I suffered abuse and hurt in the following years and then as a young teen encountered Jesus. I clung to that connection and looked to God to be my Father, he was the only Father I knew.
We all have a God sized hole in our souls, that only He can fill, and for all Christians he is our Heavenly Father. Growing up without an earthly father, not even knowing who he was, with what I had been through, I was left questioning my idenity and with a gaping wound in my soul. He had to be more for me than just my God.
My biological father passed away before I could meet him. It took a long time to prove my parentage, and unlike Nick I was not exactly welcomed with open arms. Only a few welcomed me and reached out, the few who do accept me and have connected with me have made it possible for me to learn where I come from and connect with my heritage, which has finally given me that sense of wholeness. Sadly I have not always been welcomed with open arms by my Christian family either. Christians aren’t perfect and there are many out there who have been hurt by churches, I am one of them. But Jesus accepted me with open arms and God has been my Heavenly Father and my only father. He loves me and I know He always will.
Like Nick and Bishop Justin, when I look back over my family tree - my vine - I can see where God tended the branches. This is the Wesley connection. My maternal great-grandmother was the daughter of a lay-preacher - her father and brother, preached in the local Taranaki area, they were Wesleyan/Methodist Missionaries in Purangi/Inglewood. Today I continue to abide in God, providing this website. As you know from last week I also continue to reach out and discover those hundreds of connections through my whakapapa, and work to help others find their connections. I choose to forgive those that hurt me, as Christ commanded. I maintain a connection with a local Church, not one of the churches that hurt me as I no longer live in their location and God in his wisdom called me elsewhere. So if you have been hurt by a church or by Christians, I am sorry - not perfect, just forgiven. My suggestion, be brave, don't think people and churches are all the same. Jesus will accept you, even if others don't. Pray, forgive and go where God leads you!