(This article is also featured on CBN.com)
Abuse? Alcoholism? Bullying? Do you believe God can’t use all the broken pieces of your past? Think again.
During my seminary studies, I was fascinated by a story of a missionary named Mary Slessor. In the jungles of Africa, God used her to save the lives of abandoned infants. It wasn’t her mission or passion that intrigued me. Rather, it was the painful childhood journey that prepared her for the call God would place on her life. It seemed that early on, Mary resolved to give God all the broken pieces.
A Broken Past
Mary Slessor grew up in the slums of Scotland in a poor and abusive home. She frequently witnessed her mother being battered by her alcoholic father. When Mary was just seven years old, she decided to intervene. Mary began to taunt her father when he returned home from work in an effort to deflect his rage. She would then tire him out as she raced through the house as he tried to catch her. Mary was petite for her age and often, but not always, succeeded in escaping his wrath.
A few years later, when Mary was only eleven, she was sent to work at the local mill. She worked and went to school twelve hours a day. In her precious spare time, Mary decided to start a Bible study for the street children in her poor neighborhood. However, a local bully began threatening her and the other children. Though Mary was younger and smaller than he, Mary stood her ground and in an ironic twist, the bully became her group’s most loyal guardian and protector.
God’s Call Into Ministry
In her 20s, Mary Slessor came to admire the work of missionary David Livingstone. She decided she wanted to follow in his footsteps. Mary set her sights on Africa. This, despite the fact that she lived at a time when it was nearly unheard of for single women to enter the mission field. Upon arriving in Africa, Mary discovered hundreds of slain or abandoned twin babies and their outcast mothers. They were rejected because the villagers believed that twin children were conceived by the devil.
Filled with compassion and the Truth of God’s Word, Mary got to work. She began rescuing the children, caring for the women, and introducing God’s love to the people. Her years enduring abuse, bullies and threats prepared this petite, fiery redhead to confront even the most imposing of African chiefs. She quickly won them over, earning both their respect and the freedom to minister to their women and children.
Give God All the Broken Pieces
Is there something in your past that you believe is holding you back from God doing a marvelous work in your life? What if you were to give God all the broken pieces and let Him use those very things to pave a path to reach others with the glorious news of Jesus Christ?
Each of us, with all of our triumphs and failures, joys and heartbreaks, scars and all, have been given an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Do not underestimate what God can do with a life solely surrendered to Him. Give God all the broken pieces, for who knows if you are where you are today “for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
“If God is for us, who can be against us?…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39, selected)
Adapted from my Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. Copyright © 2017 by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers.