It wasn't until my teenage years when I was living way up in Mount Isa with my aunt and uncle that I had any other religious encounters. My aunt and uncle were not religious nor were they against religion either, they were beautiful people, my aunt a nurse and uncle a police officer, very hard working people, that had taken me in at the age of ten away from a mother with drug and alcohol addictions.
At high school up in Mount Isa that me and my best friend Becky met an Indigenous teacher at our high school that happened to be a Christian and went to the local outreach church. I'll never forget him his name, Jason.
Jason had glasses and he gave me and Becky money at lunch time to spend at the tuckshop whenever we saw him - if we didn't have any lunch because we had forgotten it or because we though it was much cooler to eat from the tuckshop than to eat what we had brought to school for lunch.
He always talked to us about church and if we go to any church or were interested in going, being teenage girls, I don't think we really took notice of what he was saying. I think we were so consumed in our own teenage worlds at the time. Eventually after getting to know us for two school terms, Jason invited us to attend his church.
First we would always say 'yeah we will be there' but never go, but we started to feel bad about always getting tuckshop money off him and always saying we would come to church, but never going even if it was only a few dollars.
When we saw him, it meant a lot to us that someone cared outside of home to come sit with us and yarn and look after us in making sure we had food, so maybe our guilt of that caught up to us and then when he asked again, we finally said 'yeah we will be there' and actually meant it.
We made it along to church as nervous as anything and not knowing what we were heading into. This Sunday morning Becky's father Rob, dropped us off and we went into the Sunday morning service and if memory serves me correctly, it may have been a youth service because there was a lot of other young people there of all different backgrounds.
There were even other young people from our high school that we wouldn't of even imagined them as 'church goers' - as we would say. The service started and the young pastor at the church did the service and it was nice of what I can remember.
I can't remember much of the service because I mainly remember the end of the service he was asking if anyone would like to come up and give their hearts to the Lord and to put their hands up if they wanted to. We were sitting next to Jason who looked at us and quietly asked us if we would like to give our hearts to the Lord.
We didn't really know what it was all about and the pastor said he will give them all some time to get ready and if anyone would like to ask any questions about what it meant to give your heart to the Lord you could go and ask the pastor.
So we decided we wanted too, because all the other young people were all giving their hearts to the Lord, so Jason took us over to line up to ask questions, and I honestly can't remember what we asked, but we lined up when everyone was ready at the altar and we were nervous and confused and so many emotions.
We liked how we were told, we would be 'saved' and when it was our turn, Becky went first than I followed the pastor, put his hand on our heads, said a few words and we gave our hearts to the Lord that day. I don't even think we fully understood what that actually meant at that time but it was a significant time in my young life. I was only thirteen at the time.
We went to church a few more times after that and we did feel like new people. We tried to keep it up but the busyness of our lives and family had gotten in the way. It wasn't until a few years after that when I moved back with my mother after she finished a rehabilitation program, down in northern NSW.
I found out how really hard it was to keep up with religion with my mother being dead set against anything religion, but I would always seem to find myself praying every night before I went to be alone in my room. I could never tell my mother that I prayed and that I believed in God.
I remember once in my life she took us to church and we walked in sat down then everyone got us to sing, and whilst singing an old woman fainted and my mother left and we ran out with her and that was that. My mother went to a Lutheran private school in Brisbane on a sports scholarship but other than that she wasn't religious nor did she ever talk about God that I can remember.
It wasn't easy for me to want to be Christian and learn about God and live in her household. I remember we were shopping together with my sister and my mother and I saw a beautiful silver necklace, nothing too expensive, that I wanted to buy with my own money.
It was a necklace of a small cross and my mother went ballistic about me wanting the cross necklace saying that "that" (meaning the cross) had nothing to do with us and that 'we' (our family and our indigenous people) had our own religion and culture and that I'm not a Christian, as if to say, she was telling me that I wasn't allowed to be Christian. I was shocked to get that response from my mother.
Still today that type of response that my mother gave me is the same sort of response the rest of my family gives me when I tell them I'm now a Christian as an adult with my own family. This is sad because being a Christian and following Jesus is the most wonderful experience to share with others in fellowship and it's sad to me that I probably won't ever get to share with my family members the joy of Jesus Christ but its something I will always continue to pray for them.
His language and dreamtime
However it's great to be able to raise my own children in a Christian household were they still learn their culture through my husband who teaches them his language and dreamtime stories through his artwork and since accepting Jesus into our lives only four years ago, we have discovered many dreamtime stories and bible stories are similar with similar messages and everything all points back to God the creator.
God made the world and everything in it and we are truly blessed that despite both our backgrounds and people trying to keep God away from us, God is more powerful than anything and we believe he was their with us our whole lives, just waiting for the right time for us to come to him and fully give our lives to him.
Today, we are living for him and bringing our kids up to hopefully, one day be strong Christian indigenous leaders for all people. Today we live on the Gold Coast / Tweed, my husband Edward and I have been here four years and our forth year as Christians, We still have a long way to go, but thankfully the Lord has blessed us with an amazing church family who has become our real family, and we love and appreciate them so much.
God has placed us with such lovely Christians. It would be so much harder, even though every day is a challenge, without this church family, and we're getting stronger in our walk with Jesus, as we grow and learn more about him our relationship with him which strengthens our faith.
Tisha Williams is an indigenous home maker and mother on the Gold Coast / Tweed. He husband Edward is an indigenous painter, training to be a carpenter and teaches their children his language and dream time stories which have parallels in the Bible.
Tisha Williams' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tisha-williams.html