Naija’s family lived in a small remote village that was Christian in name only. She did not know Jesus personally, nor did her family attend church. “Christian” was just a word without meaning to Naija. Sunday School, VBS and Bible stories—so familiar to most Christian kids—were completely foreign to Naija.
Naija grumbled as she worked in the field. All her friends were hanging out and having fun during their school holiday, but, as the oldest of eight children, she had to work to help support the family. Her grumbling fueled the growing anger in her heart. Life was so unfair.
Once home for the day, Naija released her anger toward her parents, complaining about the hardness of her life. She knew how her parents would respond—scolding or possibly even a beating—but she couldn’t hold her frustrations in.
Being the eldest in her family was a burden Naija resented. All throughout her childhood, she missed out on fun with friends, while she watched her siblings or worked in the fields. By the time she was 13 years old, Naija hated her life and felt unloved and uncared for.
Standing at the Crossroads of Love and Hate
School was Naija’s escape from family responsibilities. She started lying to her parents, saying she had to stay at school longer to work on projects, while she was really having fun with friends. She never thought of the moral implications of her actions. In fact, being unchurched, she never thought about spiritual things at all.
Then, one day, one of her classmates invited her to a Vacation Bible School organized by a GFA congregation. Naija was hesitant, but her friend pleaded until Naija finally gave in.
For three days, Naija sang songs that praised God and heard Bible stories about Jesus. It was a turning point in her life. Her encounters with the Word of God challenged her. Hearing teaching on the Bible for the first time, she was gripped by the message of love and forgiveness. She was excited by what she heard. Happiness bloomed in her heart.
After VBS ended, Naija continued to think about what she learned. She would hum the songs she learned as she went about her daily tasks. Her sadness about life gradually faded away. She began attending Sunday School at the church, stoking the flames started at VBS.
Forgiveness Replaces Bitterness After VBS
At Sunday School, GFA pastor Karmjit, who had also overseen the VBS Naija attended, saw the need to teach the teenagers more specifically. He started meeting with the teenagers of his congregation, helping them know the saving love of Jesus more clearly. During these meetings, Naija opened up about her struggles to the pastor, sharing how meaningless her life felt and how angry she was toward her parents. She felt they were ruining her life.
Through the insight of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Karmjit encouraged Naija to forgive her parents for the hurts she felt and to trust Jesus with her life. Naija recognized the damage unforgiveness had brought to her heart. Convicted within of her sin, she confessed to the Lord with a broken heart. Naija determined to forgive her parents just as God had forgiven her.
This caused a great change in Naija’s life. Joy flooded the deep places in her heart and overflowed to those around her.
Publicly demonstrating her faith in the Lord, Naija is now an active member in the local body of believers. She hopes the Lord will use her life to bring faith to her parents and siblings. Her dream is to one day worship together, side-by-side with those whom she once blamed—those whom she now loves with Christ’s love.