By Joanne Standfield, 2011.
On reflecting on my journey with God, I guess my first realisation that He was real came when I was a little girl aged about 9. I was an only child at the time (my little sister was born a couple of years later) and I had a black and white cat that I loved dearly, who would wait in the front yard for me to come home after school and then one day she wasn’t there. Days went by and there was no sign of her and then one night as I knelt by my bed to say the Lord’s Prayer (which my Mother who had been brought up Lutheran had taught me to say), I wondered if I could pray for my cat, so feeling game, I did. The very next morning there was a knock at the back door and when I opened it, there was a lady standing there with my cat in her arms! She and her husband had heard it crying all through the night and went searching for it, finding her stuck in the cavity of a double brick wall of a house that was being built next door. The lady said she felt compelled to knock on people’s doors to find her owner.
Some years went by and I didn’t really think much more about God (except I knew for a fact He was real) and then found myself becoming interested in occult things. One Good Friday some friends suggested we use the Ouija board; I’d never done so before. On this night I discovered that this realm was also very real…. I contacted who I thought was my dead grandfather, answering questions no one else there would know the answer to. In later years I discovered it was familiar spirits I was communicating with. I witnessed the glass flying around the room by itself and the candles going out. Although terrified at the time it also fascinated me and I started holding Ouija board sessions myself. Eventually I believe demons took residence in me, not only could I sense their presence but at times would say things I didn’t mean to say and then one night before going to bed, as I looked into the mirror, one manifested. Fear gripped me as I thought I would end up in a mental institution, so I prayed “If there is a God , you’ve got to help me” I prayed for what seemed like hours and then suddenly my hands shook violently and I felt this thing ebb and leave…. and I knew I had been set free! I started telling people about God and how I knew he was real…. even though at this stage I didn’t know that I needed Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
A few years later my mother got saved while visiting her brother, who was a pastor and had been praying for years for his family. She invited us to go to her baptism…. I thought she had gone way over the top, especially as she was attending a church where they spoke in tongues (in my mind it had to be a cult!) and I really didn’t want to go but did in the end although very begrudgingly. In that church I felt the tangible presence of God, not that I would tell anyone…. but I was led to visit occasionally over the next year or so.
To cut a long story short…. after many tests by two specialists, I had been told I would probably never have any children but my mother asked if I’d like the church to pray, so I said okay. I became pregnant with Leah and during the pregnancy visited the little church more regularly. When she was just a couple of weeks old I was worried as she had a bad cold, so I took her out the front to be prayed for and got more than I bargained for…. I got saved and baptised in the Spirit. Since then I have had three more children.
We have witnessed so many miracles, some of which are…. my third daughter didn’t breathe for 20mins when she was 2wks old (all the ambulances down the road were out and we had to wait for one to come from some distance away). We found her in the pram purple and stiff, with her eyes bulging and tongue out…. they told us later in hospital that she had been fitting. She didn’t take a breath until the ambulance pulled up. She had no brain damage whatsoever. She has had two more major attacks in her health since then, one that could have left her brain damaged and the second a life threatening illness. Once again the Lord brought her through, healed and whole.
We have had attacks on our other children’s health as well…. one doctor said he’d never known a family to get such rare things. Our wonderful, faithful God has been faithful to heal, over and over again. I myself have nearly bled to death three times, the first where the doctors thought they were going to lose me as my liver was haemorrhaging following a serious car accident, the second after miscarrying a baby and the third time when a stomach ulcer haemorrhaged and I was given a blood transfusion. In 1983 Adelaide experienced the Ash Wednesday fires that burnt through not only South Australia but also Victoria, many lives and homes were lost. We had just bought a small property two months before. The raging fires burnt through our neighbour’s property but, through prayer, stopped at our boundary fence when the wind changed and went the other way!
Along with the times of great blessings and joy, there have also been times of great trial but Jesus has been in the fire with us, to strengthen and bring us through. I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage, of nearly 36yrs to my darling Greg. He would tell me at the close of every day that he loved me and we held hands wherever we went; Jesus was our joy and delight. Last August he was diagnosed with cancer and went home to Glory just 9wks later. This I believe is the most difficult time of my life as for some reason we didn’t get his healing, which both of us were so confident would happen but this one thing I do know, even though God’s ways are not ours, His plans are of good and not evil, plans to give us a hope and a future.