"I began to truly believe my life had value" Gladys' Story
Below is Gladys’ story. She wants to share with you exactly how God has transformed her life and her thoughts and dreams for the future, from a childhood that seemed devoid of hope.
Gladys with her daughter and Debbie, 2019
Born into a family of seven, Gladys and her siblings rarely had enough food to go around, and resources were limited. From the very start of her life, Gladys had little belief in her chances of getting ahead in her studies and becoming self-sufficient. Her mum suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father, and so her home never felt safe. When she was very young, her dad passed away from alcoholism and it wasn’t long before her mum found a new partner and had two more children. Tragically, the new partner began abusing Gladys when she was only five years-old, and it didn’t stop until she left home when she was 15.
“It was hard, because I was a kid, and I just wanted to play, study and have fun. My heart got filled with hate and resentment. My thoughts became very negative.”
Gladys contemplated suicide often, and on one occasion, drank rat poison to try to end her life. Her life didn’t end that day and looking back, she wholeheartedly believes that God rescued her.
When she turned 15, she went to live in a children’s home consumed by negative thoughts, feeling good for nothing, and having very little faith in God. Living in fear, with no hope, she remembers praying “God, if you really exist and want to do justice, I ask that not what I want but that your will be done.”
When Alastair & Debbie visited Gladys at her home in 2012 and offered to support her through Nicodemus, she broke down. She couldn't believe that someone wanted to help her and believed she was worthy of support and her life had purpose.
She didn’t stay long in the home, as her heart remained hard and closed to change. She got a local job in the hope of gaining independence. However, this turned out to be another turn away from the right path; the friendship group she became entangled with were into drugs and drink, and this quickly became part of her life too. Before long, she moved out of her mum’s home and moved in with a guy she had started dating. Feeling independent, with no one to tell her what to do, she started to consider what her future could hold.
It was at this time that she was offered an education scholarship by Nicodemus, which she initially met with resistance. She had little confidence in her ability to shake her negative thought patterns, to apply herself to her studies and to make the scholarship worthwhile, yet with minimal self-belief and hope, she tentatively accepted the offer, and took a step forward onto the path set before her. With Nicodemus’ help, Gladys finished high school, along with a group of young adults who left the children’s home when they turned eighteen.
Gladys with a girl who lives on the streets, listening and encouraging her to take the step to leave the streets and drugs behind.
Shortly after, some of Gladys’ church friends started speaking to her about Jesus and she was able to accept and hear the words for the first time. She’d heard it all before, but this time, she was receptive, curious and wanted to hear more. People in her past had sown the seed, and it was now beginning to germinate.
“I knew God was healing and cleaning my heart, and I simply couldn’t explain it. God was working within me, and when I turned 21, I gave my life to Jesus.”
Her negative thoughts began to change, “I began to truly believe my life had value, that I'm God’s daughter, and that He has a path for me.”
Throughout this time, Gladys was mentored and discipled by Daniel and Deborah, a Christian couple from her local church, and they supported her as she came off drugs and drinking. Daniel used to be the lead singer in a heavy metal band, and is a recovering addict himself, so from his firsthand experience, was able to help her significantly. They discipled her on a weekly basis, counselling her, calling her on the phone and regularly visiting her. They played a key part in Gladys’ transformation.
“I’m grateful to God for all of them, I now have hopes and dreams for the future. I want to learn English fluently, to become a bilingual secretary.
Gladys graduated from high school as a bilingual secretary and wants to keep improving her English to increase her chances of finding a job.
Gladys (right) with her mentor and some friends from the Youth Mentoring Programme in Guatemala
The rest is in Gladys' words:
“I now feel happiness rather than hate. I thought I’d never get married, and that I’d always be alone, but God gave me a husband and a daughter, and I have learnt that He is the King of my life.
Learning about God’s forgiveness whilst studying the Bible, has taught me to forgive my mum and leave what happened in the past. I now spend regular time with her, we are affectionate with one another and have a much better mother-daughter relationship.
I’ve learnt the power of gratitude. I could see what people were doing for me in the past but couldn’t appreciate it and show how thankful I was. As God healed me, I could embrace the love I’d been shown.