Kingsley is the father of Oscar, one of the participants of our Living Free program. Together, they recently celebrated Oscar’s baptism, which Kingsley says was a dramatic change from the ‘toughest, roughest days of hell [they] endured over the previous decade’.
I had the privilege of raising Oscar as a single father. Our family loved Christmas time, but Jesus was not our focus in life. Oscar was a cute and happy boy who loved his family and Bob the Builder. But little did we know, he was the victim of a serial paedophile. Scared and anxious about life, he kept it inside and said nothing for eight years until he was 15. By then, his life had been changed. His schooling suffered, and drugs had come as an escape. First a little and then more and more, until it became an addiction, with ten years of heartache and trauma.
We experienced a cycle of hell over and over and over. Drugs, anger, psychosis, traumas, homelessness, guilt, shame, suicide attempts, hospitalisations, and much more. Never-ending grief seeking an end. I was too afraid to turn the phone off and afraid of what might await if it rang. I often never knew if he would make it to the next day, with a perpetual fear of loss. I am so thankful to all the healthcare workers who saw his true heart and helped over the years.
I saw a pain in Oscar I never knew could exist, and I lived and felt that pain with him. He pleaded with God to kill him to escape. He fought hard and, at times, made much progress, only to have it destroyed again. I could see the love and hope deep inside him, fighting for survival.
I did everything I could to help him. I invoked the help of others, prayed through many sleepless nights, and, when there was nothing else possible, surrendered and let him go to God.
Last year, Oscar lost everything again – his job, house, car, money, fiancée, stepson, daughter and the trust of those close to him. He came to me broken and ashamed with soul-destroying guilt.
Then Jesus arrived. We took the first step and opened our hearts of hope to the Lord by attending my local church in Queensland, and then Oscar went further with his first rehab stint, and then on to Teen Challenge South Australia, and, wow, have miracles happened.
Six months in, Oscar is living and breathing God’s word 24/7, has put on 20 kilograms, is fit and healthy, was baptised and is preparing to study ministry, wanting to help and save others. I was also baptised a month ago. We have seen and felt Jesus’ work in our hearts, healing Oscar, healing me, healing our family, absolving the guilt and giving hope, joy and love.
We no longer spend our days talking of drugs and hurts and traumas, but we read the Bible together, share gospel songs and shed tears of love and gratitude for what we have been through and how Jesus has saved us.
Oscar says Christianity is the last thing he tried and the first thing that worked. I agree with him. We now know who to serve and give our lives to. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Teen Challenge SA.
Pictured: Oscar (left) at his baptism with his seven-year-old daughter Annabelle and his father Kingsley.