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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.

Thirty-Nine

Thirty-Nine

I was having this conversation with a woman the other day who said that her mum had kidnapped the children from their dad and I thought, ‘Well, that’s kind-of what my dad did.’

He kidnapped us from our mum and he wouldn’t allow us to see her. And even my grandfather died without seeing all his grandchildren and I know that would have broken his heart.

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As we got older we became separated. I left, my younger sister had left, my brother had left. I think we got to the point where we just couldn’t take it anymore. Just could not take the sort-of controlling behaviour. And then dad, as a reaction, took my youngest sister away to Canberra. We couldn’t find her. And it was only through a mutual friend that my other sister got in touch with that she ended up writing to her.

And so, before the days of google maps and everything, we were using an old paper map to try to find her in Canberra. And it was drizzly-dark and getting cold and we could not find this place because it wasn’t a street name. It was a building name.

And so, we went into this shop and my sister asked the person, “Where is this place?”

And the girl behind the counter said, “I have no idea.” And we thought we’d just have to abandon this trek.

And the guy behind her spoke up and said, “I know where it is. I’m going there. I live there.”

So, we got to follow him home. And I really feel that was a God moment … where it might have been all lost. But we had that real desire to be together. Because family is so important.

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So, we followed him and we found her … but then it got a bit funny.

She was involved in a youth group in Canberra and she said, “Oh. I’m just going along to this youth group tonight. You can either come or stay. I don’t care.”

And we were, like, ‘We haven’t seen you for 3 or 4 years, you know. And … you’re going out?’ So, we were kind-of a bit shocked … but we went anyway.

But we hadn’t been in church for a long time. I was pretty mad at the church. I just felt like I didn’t belong. Just felt like I always … I don’t know. It was all just too hard I think.

So, these kids were having a riotous time and having a lot of fun. Then they stopped to do their devotionals and chat to each other and talk about their week and everything. And then they all started praying. And when those kids started praying they were amazing. They just hooked into the Holy Spirit and it was like something I hadn’t felt for many years. And they prayed for us and my little sister told us later she’d said nothing about her life to them and they prayed things that only God could know.

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Later, she moved back with us and the first Sunday she said, “Well, I’m going off to church. Are you coming or not?” And that was kind-of, like, my first step back into church.

And the pastor, he called me out the front - it was a Pentecostal church – and he said, “You’re like a brick out of the wall and you need to be supported.” He took me over to the wall and he showed me the bricks with one brick in the middle and all the other bricks supporting it. And he said, “Look, there are seven bricks supporting each brick. I don’t mind if you come here or go somewhere else but you need to get back into fellowship.”

And I was, like, ‘If he’s brave enough to call me up the front and say that, then I’ll come here.’

Later, when I was baptised, I remember going down and smiling. And I was smiling so much I thought I would swallow all the water. I don’t know how all the water wasn’t going in my mouth. I was just so happy. And life just really took an up-turn from there on in.

I guess it’s like … it’s that joy that brings people. It’s that unspeakable joy that you can’t explain. The Holy Spirit is just something that you can’t totally explain but you know it’s right. I love seeing people get that. It never leaves or lets us down … and it overcomes so much.”

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Thirty-Eight

Thirty-Eight