My name is Joseph. Growing up I lived on a farm with my twelve brothers. My dad, Jacob, married twice - once out of obligation and once for love. As anyone that has grown up in a big family would know, life can be hard.
On top of that, my brothers didn’t like me at all. They said, “Just because dad thinks you’re God’s gift doesn’t mean that you are.” If I am honest, I was young and arrogant and that didn’t help the situation.
God had given me a gift of interpreting dreams, and it had saved a few lives. Once at dinner, I was telling my brothers about the dreams I was having. In the dreams, they were in trouble and they came to me for help.
Dreams are a strange part of life and I didn’t really know what mine meant but I knew enough to know that it mattered. I had a history with dreams, an ability to understand and interpret them.
I was dad’s favourite and no one liked that, mostly because I was the youngest. My birthday made things worse because dad gave me a new red pick-up truck. I would have been happy with an iPad, guitar or even a technicoloured coat. But as you can imagine, this made my brother furious.
On top of the truck, dad had decided to give the whole farm to me! This was the last straw for my brothers. Dad’s decision mixed with their anger led to the moment that changed my life.
Dad asked me to check-up on how my brothers were going with moving some sheep. I got in my truck to go see them.
James, my oldest brother, said words I still remember to this day. “Nothing’s going to change unless we change him.” They took a swing at me, they beat me up, branded me, and threw me onto my truck. I hit my head which knocked me out.
I woke up thinking it was all a dream but when my senses were hit with the smells from the truck, reality came rushing back. I was caged in the back of the truck, I didn’t know where I was heading and I wanted to know where God was and why he let this happen.
My dad taught me how to listen for God. He often said if you can’t hear God, it’s because you haven't learned to listen. He said if you’re unsure where he is, just ask and listen to that small voice.
I was dumped in a city I knew nothing about. What was I doing? I decided to hitch hike to the town centre to find something. God answered my prayer. I got picked up by a stranger, even though I looked like road-kill.
He let me stay at his house. The kindness of this stranger was unbelievable. He offered me a room to live in and even got me a job working for his boss.
Life Goes On
It's not often you’re given a whole new start at life. This was my opportunity to embrace this new life. Work was going really well. I impressed my boss, Mr. Potter, so much that he gave me promotions after promotions.
There were days when my family was but a distant memory but there were also days where I couldn't escape the thought, hurt and pain that they caused me. Apart from those memories, life was good.
Mr Potter was a powerful, successful man. I started to notice his wife Mrs Potts hitting on me around the office. She was very attractive. I brushed it off and told myself that she was just being friendly.
Another moment that changed my life was Mr Potter’s birthday. He was having a party at his house. When I arrived he wasn’t there yet as he was working on closing a big deal.
I took a call from him upstairs. When I finished the call guess who was standing behind me? Yes, Mrs Potts.
I was very conflicted at that moment. I knew what she wanted. She said she wasn’t in the mood to be rejected. I couldn’t disrespect my boss or my God like that. I left immediately but I was accused of sexual assault.
I was put in prison, in hell I could never have imagined. I was terrified. Again like in the truck, I listened for God’s voice and to my surprise he said, “I’ve got you, everything is going to be okay.”
My cellmate in prison, Jason was a Christian and he said, “Look, man, Jesus knows where you are and he scarred his hands up real good to do something about it. It's up to you man.”
One night, I was sitting in my cell really struggling with the pain my brothers caused. Ultimately, they put me here.
I used the tools my dad taught me. I forgave my brothers for the pain they caused, I disagreed with the lie that I am not worthy and I asked Jesus for the truth. He told me that I am worthy and that he really likes me.
Life was different after that. Something shifted and I wasn’t angry anymore. I knew who I was.”
This is all I can share of my story this time but tune in next time to hear how I am set free from prison, my life is restored and I am reunited with my brothers.
Barry Kirby is a disciple of Jesus Christ, living in relationship with Father God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Barry works and worships with the Salvation Army based in Wellington, New Zealand.