My name is Shatrina Jones. I am 29 and I grew up in Timber Creek, a remote Northern Territory community in Australia.
I never attended church; the only thing that brought me close was a funeral. My family was very cultural. My grandfather was an Aboriginal elder but he was also a pastor back in the ’70s so I guess that’s why I knew a little about Jesus.
When I was 12 my parents split up. Mom took me and my siblings to live with her family. That’s when I went to my first church but I didn’t understand much about Christianity. At 17 I started smoking because the other girls were doing it. At 18 my family arranged for me to marry a young man through our cultural ways. I had never been with anyone before him. I had my baby boy at the age of 19 but I broke it off with his father because I realized he didn’t love me. I chose to raise my son Joel on my own. When he was about five-years-old I started drinking and eventually using drugs, mostly marijuana.
I loved to party and I thought I was so cool. I started getting into public fights and twice ended up locked up in a cell. One night my sister and I got into a big argument with my family and they kicked us out of the community. So we went to stay with our sister in the city. I began to question my life but I was still partying. We moved from one community to the other, still drinking and smoking marijuana.
I’m just going in circles, I thought. Is there more to life than this? I was searching on YouTube for gospel music when I came across a song called “I Surrender.” It touched my heart and tears started to flow down my cheeks. I thought about all the bad things I had done. I went online to find a prayer to give my heart to the Lord. I read it and then and there I surrendered my all to the Lord Jesus. Then I started doing Bible studies. I didn’t have a Bible so I downloaded a Bible app on my phone.
I prayed for someone to come with a Bible. A couple of days later literature evangelists Marian Jones and Sue Wilson came to our door selling Bibles. After ordering my Bible, they gave us a little book I really liked. It was the story of a little Aboriginal girl named Bett Bett who talked to the stars. I read it that night. At the end of the book Bett Bett talked about the Sabbath. I was confused so I prayed to God to explain it to me. The next morning Marian and Sue came back and happily explained it to me.
That night, I went to a Sunday church. I asked the pastor’s wife about the Sabbath but she quickly shut me down. I was even more confused. I went home and prayed that God would help me find the right church. The next day Pastor Don Fehlberg, his wife Eileen and a local elder arrived at our door. Talking to Pastor Don made me realize I had found the true church. I looked at my sister and said, “This is the church I choose.” She agreed.
My life started changing and I began to live by biblical principles. I gave up drinking, smoking and marijuana in one day. When I realized my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit I also gave up unclean foods. My sister and I decided to go home to Timber Creek. We apologized to everyone we had wronged. Since returning home, my sister and I have shared what we have learned with our family. We try to encourage them to follow what we have learned.
One year later—in July 2017—I was baptized by Pastor Don and assisted by Andrew Johnson.
All my life people told me I would amount to nothing. I searched for their love and approval but I found nothing until I found Jesus. He made a nothing into something beautiful. I found love, not from family or from a man, but from Jesus alone.
I owe my life to Jesus.