Mrs. Mirella Duffield’s Testimony
I come from a broken home. My grandparents and eldest sister looked after me to the age of four whilst my mother went to work to get some money. At the age of four I, with one of my two sisters and brother, were taken to a children’s home in the south of France where I stayed for five years, then finally we were taken to a convent / monastery for our last year in France before we came to live in England.
As a child I was taught first as a Seventh Day Adventist and then attended a Roman Catholic convent in France. I was never given a bible to read but lots of books on the life stories of saints, which taught me to fear God and also to try and be good, as they all were in those books. Saints were so good and suffered so much, no wonder they were saints! I definitely had the impression that one had to be like those people in those books to get anywhere near to God, and certainly I didn’t stand a chance as I had always been so naughty, I knew that as I had been told enough times. I remember thinking that if only I could be as good as the saints I read about I might get to be near God. But there was always something else to be told off about!
I believe the biggest and most destructive influence, that was driven into me as a child, was a fear of people and authority. I was always scared of doing the wrong thing, so inevitably ending up doing it, and then being punished which was also inevitable. I lived in a world of fear, always trying to please others but never seeming to accomplish it.
I always felt belittled; I never looked right, walked right, said the right thing, so I just learnt to hide within myself. I remember feeling such a low human being that walking down the street was a very difficult thing to do as I thought everyone was looking at me and thinking how ugly I looked. At times I found putting one foot in front of the other to walk down a street was akin to a nightmare, I would rather have disappeared down a hole in the ground.
At one point my life, around the age of 18, I remember, as I felt that I was old enough to make my own decision then, my sister and I took the same decision to stop going to church, this was a big thing as we were both Roman Catholics. We both felt that the church was full of hypocrites. I remember thinking that if that’s the way people behaved who go to church and call themselves Christians and claim to know God, living one kind of life during the week and then pretending to be pious on Sundays, then I just didn’t want to know any more,
Shortly after that my sister and her family went to live in Canada to start a new life, I missed her terribly. Then one day I was very shocked after I received a letter from her, and immediately thought that she had turned to religion in her time of need as we were not there for her. This letter was all about what the Lord had done for her. So I thought that I would straighten her out when she would come back. When she finally did come back, she talked about this Lord Jesus in a way I had never heard before, He was real to her, and actually doing things in her life, He was a very real part of her life and I was totally confused and didn’t understand the things she was telling me, but one thing stayed with me which made me seek what she had found; she looked so happy and at peace when she talked about her new found Jesus. My sister had left me a little book to read which mentioned a Pentecostal church, so I thought I would go and look for such a church, it took me quite a while but I finally found one. The next Sunday I climbed in my car and set off to the service.
It must be understood that I had been accustomed to Roman Catholic services, where you never said a word, everyone was very quite and reverend, and you spent half of the time on your knees. As I walked up to the little Pentecostal church there were some people outside who welcomed me in and asked my name and where I came from, this impressed me very much, they were interested in me. When inside everyone spoke to everyone else and they were all so happy, I was of two minds, wondering whether this was alright or not to behave like this in God’s house, plus it didn’t look like God’s house as it was so plain, the gold paint and statues were missing. Anyway, I sat through the first service with incredulity to see people behaving as they were, clapping hands, saying amen in the middle of the service, plus they were enjoying themselves, what was this? I was so curious that I had to go back that evening and the next Sunday and carried on going, taking my children with me. I was hearing things I had never heard before. I was being told that once I became a Christian (I already thought I was a Christian!) I also became a priest! a saint! an ambassador for God! I heard that Peter was married, Jesus had brothers and sisters, Mary was just the mother of the human side of Jesus and not the mother of God!. These things were revolutionary as they were contrary to what I had always been told, but they were also shown to me from the Bible, so I had to believe them. My head was spinning, it was so different, I felt as if I had been conned all these years but finally I was hearing the truth.
One day I invited a Christian lady to come and have a cup of tea at my house, I had so many questions to ask. By then I had been going to the Pentecostal Church for a few months and had been very intrigued and curious, but my life carried on as before. It was the first time I had talked to this person so she didn’t know any of my past or the need I was in, and during our conversation this lady read a passage of the Bible to me John 3:16 but instead of reading the word ‘anyone’ she inserted my name, I would never have identified with ‘anyone’ as I felt even lower then that, I couldn’t believe what she was saying, so I asked her to show me “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that if anyone (Mirella) should believe on Him they shall not perish but have everlasting life”! I said to her, “but don’t you have to be good to go to heaven, are you saying that all I have to do is believe in Jesus and I shall be with God for ever?” she said “It’s not what I say but what the Bible says.” I believed those words, and I accepted Jesus as the one who paid the price I had always thought I eternally would have to pay, I realized in a moment that I could never be good enough but Jesus was, and He was saying “It’s alright, you can come in because I’ve died for you paying for ever all you ever thought was bad, now you are clean and can come in the presence of my Father”. Well I had waited too long for this, it didn’t take much to convince me, with tears rolling down my face I thanked Jesus for what He had done and accepted His gift to me of eternal life. Immediately I felt a change in me, when my husband came home that day I knew I wasn’t the same. As time went by I realized that I wasn’t reacting in the same way to situations that arose, the terrible feelings of insecurity which caused most of my problems had gone. I had found the author of love himself. I was so grateful to God for sending His Son Jesus to save me, which in turn saved my marriage and my life.
As a young Christian I was very hungry for the milk of the Word of God and soon went on to solids, it was the most amazing time of my life learning the things of God. There was so much to learn and there was so much to do for God, so I thought. I used to go to every meeting I could possibly attend, with my husband’s consent, even though he didn’t understand or like what had happened to me, God and Jesus all of a sudden had taken the prominent place in my life my husband now came second. It must have been very hard for him, but then I was propelled by such a spiritual energy I knew I just had to follow Jesus. Such love and light came into my life I just had to learn more of this Saviour who really did save me. As more and more light came into my being it somehow began to uncover all the pain and inadequacies of my past. I found myself crying more and more, with more and more pain, depression and darkness engulfing me. I had thought that becoming a Christian would overnight put everything right about my personality, but it didn’t happen like that at all, the pain grew worse. I just thank God that He had given me a person I could talk and cry with at any time. As much as I loved my husband he would never have understood what I was going through, neither did I but I knew God was at work in me. One day there was such pain, darkness and a complete void, I cannot really describe this void, it was the most awful feeling that I had ever felt, that I cried to my Father in heaven and said “what’s happening to me, am I going mad? I immediately had a picture of a computer with many wires hanging everywhere, as if it had been destroyed, then this conversation took place in my mind and heart –
“What do you see?”
“A broken computer”
“How can this computer work again?”
“only if the person who designed it can put the wires back together in their proper place”
“I made you, you’re broken like this and I will put you back together again.”
I knew then that God was going to make me whole as I should have been. He also showed me a picture of a little girl working with her father in a park, at first she would not let go of his hand, she was so afraid of being left, but eventually she let go and was running and skipping by herself knowing that her father was there, she had so much confidence that she eventually was free to wander by herself, free to go back at any time knowing that her father would never abandoned her, she didn’t even look back to see if he was still there as she knew He was there.
Thirty odd years on I can now look back at my life and see what God has done through His Holy Spirit, He has made me whole to the point where I don’t have to run after Him any more. I now know the scripture “Be still and know that I am God”. He has given me an identity, a self I can relate to and am comfortable with, He has given me self esteem, self assurance, self confidence, self pride, self acceptance, I can say for sure that I love myself, therefore now I can love my neighbour as myself. All these things didn’t happen overnight, it’s taken all the time that I have known my Lord. He had to build a personality out of complete chaos, and only He and I, and I am sure others who have trodden the same path, some with far greater heart breaking experiences than mine, are the only ones to understand fully what He has done.
Now that the Lord has made me whole He has shown me that every man, including this new person full of assurance, must die to be able to live. We have all broken God’s Law and fallen short of His glory, no one could be good enough to be able to come before God and say I am clean by my own works, we are all pitiful creatures in God’s sight and yet He loves us. I can now see why I had to go through these last few years of self building as I would never have been able to see fully his plan of salvation for man, with so much hurt and obviously so much self centeredness because of so much pain. Now, because God has made me whole as a person, He has shown me from this place of normality that man’s heart is desperately wicked including my own, always seeking it’s own, therefore God sent His only begotten Son to be our saviour, to pay for the sin of the world as no other name in heaven or earth has been given to pay for our sins only Jesus. I am now learning to walk moment by moment relying on His strength alone, I don’t want any part of the old self, I want that self to be dead and buried and I want to live as His new creation, no more in condemnation and I want to stand completely in His grace being empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish what the Lord has set before me.
I can now say with much assurance that I am experiencing the ‘Peace that passes all understanding’ compared to what I used to feel, because where there was such confusion and such darkness now there is peace, and I know that what He’s done for me He has done and will do for others who are willing to put their trust in Him and no one else, because He does accomplish what He sets out to do, that is His promise. I know that He still hasn’t finished with me, but I am so grateful for what He’s done already.
As the pain from a completely broken and hardened heart has left me to be replaced by the greatest love and peace given to me and to mankind, as a present by the only begotten Son of God “JESUS”, another emotion has entered my heart, and I know it doesn’t come from me but from the Father who loves us all; this emotion is a compassion and a burden for all those who are feeling lost, alone, ashamed, unwanted, unloved, desolate, all those who have no one to turn to, all those children who have never experienced the tender whisper of a mother’s love to her child, the pride and powerful yearning of protection from a father’s love. But I do hope that if anyone identifies with my past life that they will also do as I did, and that is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path”, and He will be to you all those things I’ve just mentioned and far, far more.
Mrs. Mirella Duffield