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“When I was a child in Cote d’Ivoire, I had dreams about God. Even then, I knew he was watching over me. When I was small, my mother left my father, because he had four other wives. I did not see her again for a long time. I was raised by my grandmother until I was eight, then I went to live with my father, my stepmother and her children. I did not want to leave my grandmother. It was so hard for me. Two cousins were also living in this new house. I could not speak in French to talk to them, as I only spoke Twi (a language in Ghana). My stepmother did not like me. She made me cook and clean the house after school, and did not let me go outside to play with my friends.

Father did not believe me

My father paid a teacher who sometimes came to teach us at home. I did not trust him because he was always touching me under my skirt. I was so afraid, because my father would not believe me when I told him about it. I was only nine years old and this teacher used to hit me for refusing sex. He told my father I was not studying well, so my father hit me too, although he never hit his other children. I was often blamed for things I did not do, and then my stepmother would beat me with a belt. Sometimes I ran away to try and find my grandmother. Many nights, one of my cousins came into my room and raped me. I told my stepmother, but my father told her that I was just dreaming and that was why I screamed in the night.

Selling soap

My father used to make soap, and in the school holidays I had to go and sell it in the big city. It was hard to sell all of the soaps each day. A man told me he wanted to buy all my soaps – if I went to his house. So I went there every day. He started to put his finger under my skirt. I thank God that a neighbour realised what was happening, and stopped it. The day after, the man killed himself because he had been found out. I prayed to God very much that my mother would come back and pick me up out of this hell. I found her address and a neighbour helped me write a letter.”

“Please come back, mother”

Josephine’s mother with her new husband did come back and took Josephine to live in Europe. “My stepfather truly loved me and adopted me. This experience helped me to come to understand God, who is the ultimate wonderful Father who has adopted us as his own children.” Sadly, her stepfather later killed himself because he owed money to the tax office. When she was older, Josephine left her mother’s home and went to live with a boyfriend. “I was looking for someone to accept me and love me. Then I met a Colombian guy, his name was Jefferson.

I thought he was perfect for me and I would be taken care of, for the rest of my life. My mother knew better, but I did not listen to her.” Josephine had two children with Jefferson, but these were terrible years of control, abuse and violence from her boyfriend. In the end, she was able to escape.

She then found a new boyfriend, from Africa. He suggested she read the Bible. “That was another step on my journey to God”, she says. But later, the boyfriend left her. She was so upset by this, she started drinking a lot and taking drugs such as ‘ecstasy’. Yet she knew inside that God was wanting her to turn round and give her life completely to Jesus.

Terrible years are ended

Josephine’s daughter had a school-friend and Josephine felt sure (because of what had happened in her own life) that the girl was being sexually abused. She wanted to bring God’s help to this girl. But Josephine realised that she herself needed to understand God’s truth better. Josephine used the Internet to find out more about the Bible, and studied some lessons online.

Now Josephine says, “It took a lot of hard, hopeless years, but I can finally say that I am found again by Jesus, and I’m happy with who I am and what I’ve done with my life. Now I am born again as a new person. Now I feel I have arrived at the Truth.”

This is a short version of Josephine’s story. Read her complete story online (and other true stories): newchristian.org.uk/josephine.html