Hope, peace & prayer: A story of redemption


I have always thought of myself as “Special”. I blame my parents for that!

From a very young age I was told that I was special because they CHOSE me! I was adopted by George and Loma Evans a few months after my birth in November 1965 and I sincerely believe that God Himself chose these wonderful people to be my parents and for Greg and Peter to be my siblings. Keep reading and I think you’ll see why.

He said, 'Your name is written in the Book of Life.' A sense of peace like I had never experienced before came upon me and I fell into a deep and restorative sleep.

I had a happy childhood. I attended Wahroonga Adventist Church in Sydney with my family and went to school at Wahroonga Adventist Primary then Strathfield Adventist High until we relocated from Sydney to Dora Creek and I then attended Avondale Adventist High. 

As I entered my teen years I became rebellious. Despite my parents’ concerns, I chose to attend church less and less and began following my own path. 

In spite of this, God continued to provide blessings in my life—probably due to my mother who has never ceased praying for her children. Parents: never stop praying for your kids. God does hear and He promises to return them to His love. 

I completed high school and studied nursing at the University of Technology Sydney. I loved my studies and when I began work, I loved being a nurse. But I was still too busy for God. I had a generous and loving family, great friends, I did well in uni and then at work. Why did I need God? It was while I was at university that my brother, Peter, became very ill with HIV and eventually succumbed to AIDS shortly after I completed nursing. I blamed God. We had all prayed so hard that he would be healed but there was no miracle of physical healing for Pete and this left me feeling bitter and confused. 

Mum reassured me that a miracle had indeed occurred as Peter had embraced God before he died, after having been an atheist for most of his adult life. She explained that sometimes God sees a better path . . . Peter was safe from temptation and was asleep and waiting for the return of Jesus. I, however, wanted Peter healed and present in my life as we had been very close. This was a significant blow to my faith at the time. Now my walk away from God wasn’t just a casual drift out of disinterest; it was a deliberate rejection. God had failed my family, I felt. I didn’t want anything to do with Him. And yet God still continued to bless me.

In 1991, Murray Gould and I married and God gave us two lovely children: Angela, born in 1992, and Peter, born in 1996. Sadly our marriage did not last and we divorced after seven years. We both went on to remarry and we have been fortunate enough to retain good family relations and friendships with each other and the extended family. I still think of Murray’s family as my own and am kindly treated that way when our paths cross. 

I had remarried and lived for some time in Bonnells Bay with my children and husband, Phil. Phil is an atheist, having had no exposure to religion until he met my family. I think our Christian background has made an impression on him as he often comments on the lovely relationships we share with each other and the peaceful way we conduct ourselves when together. I live in hope and pray that one day he will accept Jesus as his Saviour. I pray for my children to be awakened to their need of God, and also my friends and family. Prayer is such a powerful tool in the Christian life.

Three years ago we sold up and relocated to Berry Park, near Morpeth. Twelve months after our move, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I elected to have surgery and then chemotherapy; feeling reassured by my doctors that my chances of relapse were very low. I still didn’t need God. I was going to get well! I had my treatment and returned to work.

Eight months after I finished chemotherapy, I started to suffer very bad back pain. On investigation it was discovered that cancer had returned and was now attacking my bones and liver. To say I was shocked was an understatement. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I was special! But here I was . . . given 12 months to live. At almost the same time, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, as was my husband’s mum, Ethel. It was an awful triple whammy.

As news got around about my illness, I know that many people started praying for me. I believe these prayers continue to sustain me and have been instrumental in me turning back to my faith. I am so grateful for those prayers.

For a couple of months after my diagnosis I became very depressed and disappeared down the rabbit hole of grief. Sometimes I would wake in the early hours of the morning and pray. It was one night, after I said “amen”, that I had the most beautiful experience. Lying there in the dark with tears running down my face and feeling no hope for a long and happy life with my family and friends, I heard that still, small voice. He said, “Your name is written in the Book of Life.” A sense of peace like I had never experienced before came upon me and I fell into a deep and restorative sleep. That was the moment I realised that Jesus had never forgotten me. He had been waiting for me to recognise my need for Him. I had hope and peace. Something I thought I would never experience again. 

As the Bible says, “Though you were once far away from God, now you have been brought near to Him because of the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NLT). And “I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone O Lord will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8 NLT).

The next morning I woke up and started my day with prayer. I went to my bookcase and pulled out Steps to Christ by Ellen White. This had been a gift from Eveline Simpson, the director of Nursing at Avondale Retirement Village many years ago. She wrote in the front of this little book: “Remember the Lord loves you and His word to you is ‘Fear not: For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine’” (Isaiah 43:1). Wow! This was just what I needed to read. I was hungering for more of God’s word and picked up my Bible. I started to read and pray on a daily basis and my hope and peace grew stronger with my new-found faith. I experienced the promise: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV).

Jesus in His love has given me wonderful family and friends but in His infinite wisdom, He knew I would benefit from some company on this spiritual journey and I soon received a phone call from my ex-husband’s wife, Liz Gould. She asked if she could visit me. I agreed and we had a lovely time together and Liz asked if I would like her to come weekly and study the prophecies with me. I gratefully accepted and we have been meeting each week for six months and studying God’s Word. A couple of months ago, Liz asked me about baptism—something I had already been giving serious thought to. I was convinced that Adventists had the truth and I wanted to follow Jesus and His way. Baptism was the next logical step in my spiritual journey. I met with Pastor Danny and then Pastor Vadim and set the date for my baptism.

I lost my earthly father, George, in September last year and we lost my mother-in-law, Ethel, in January this year. I don’t know how I would have coped without my faith. We have a hope that we will see our loved ones again one sweet day when Jesus returns to take us away from this sad earth and restore us to eternal life with Him. I hold onto the promises: “I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13 KJV). “And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4 KJV). “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:18). 

If you haven’t invited Jesus into your life, I can highly recommend the experience. It’s my belief that our time on earth is very short and that Jesus will soon return to claim His believers and destroy Satan and sin forever. How I long to see that day! I pray that we will all be ready to go home with Him.

I’ve always thought of myself as special because of the extraordinary love of my earthly parents. Today, I know I’m special because of the extraordinary love of my Heavenly Father. I face the challenge of cancer with complete trust in Him. 

Jayne Susanne Evans is a nurse, mother and animal lover.