BY GOD’S GRACE- THE TESTIMONY OF CATHERINE DONOVAN

kathylarkman,

Silhouetted women holding hands
Cathy Photo

CATHERINE DONOVAN, contributor for today’s blog post 

We have been studying about God’s grace and our thorns and these series have come to an end. There are many thorns in my life, but even more evident is God’s grace. For me, one of those constant thorns or pain in my flesh and soul has been the sense of loneliness through my life. By God’s grace, I have learnt to dress up in the mantle of God’s fatherhood each day.
I was born in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, in East Africa. Tragically my mum was shot when I was 6 and I found her body. My dad was murdered when I was 10. Left a total orphan in a country that UNICEF estimates to have 2.5 million orphans, it is a miracle that I have never lacked clothes, slept on the streets or gone a day without food. God has been my Father. Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 11 when a call was made to come forward in Church after a sermon. I knew I had no one and God would be my refuge. At the time when my Dad died, I was left with one of my stepmothers who took out her frustrations on me to the point that I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking she was shouting my name. I worked hard to go to the best secondary school in the country, a boarding school that banned corporal punishment. I found out more about what it meant to be a Christian in that school and joined the Christian Committee.
My faith was quickly tested when at the age of 15, I was purportedly rescued from my step mother by a maternal uncle. When he came to collect me from school his financial circumstances had changed and he gave me over to his very rich best friend, who had a daughter in the same school. Unfortunately this rich man wanted me for a wife. I spent my time hiding from him and locking my bedroom door with a belt through the door handle and keyhole. God protected and delivered me from that situation. However, my faith faltered as I could not understand how God could take me from one state of suffering to the next. I stepped down from serving on the Christian Committee because the rich man’s daughter had spread the word in the school that her dad was my sugar daddy. I left their home but did not know where I was going to live or find school fees. I was filled with hatred, had a hit list and asked a local security man to teach me how to use a gun so that I could enact vengeance on those who had wronged me. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”(Leviticus 19:18).
Overwhelmed by life, I took to blanking my mind using transcendental meditation through a book I read. This situation was turned around when staff members introduced me to a Pastor and his wife who opened their home to me and the staff members sorted out sponsorship for me. Their commitment took me through my secondary education and I passed highly enough to get a scholarship for my University education and qualify as a lawyer.
I am grateful that: the Lord rescued me from the rich man as many young girls died of AIDS because of him; because of my stepmother’s ways I ended up in that specific secondary school; God has been a Father to me and has brought healing, deliverance and bestowed the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair- Over and over in my life (Isaiah 61:1-3). Truly, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose“ (Romans 8:28).