My name is Shatrina Jones. I am 29 and I grew up in Timber Creek, a remote Northern Territory community.
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. Mum 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 bloke 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 realised 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 on to Daly River, then on to Katherine, still drinking and smoking marijuana.
In Katherine, I thought, I’m just going in circles. Is there more to life than this? I was searching on YouTube for gospel music when I came across a song called “I Surrender” by Hillsong United. The song 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 Marian Jones and Sue Wilson (literature evangelists) 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.
"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."
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 Desley Green (local Katherine church member) arrived at our door. Talking to Pastor Don made me realise 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 realised 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 apologised to everyone whom we had wronged. Since returning home, my sister and I have shared with our family. We try to encourage them to follow what we have learned.
One year later I was baptised—July 15, 2017—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.
Now, I live by these three texts:
Mark 4:39,40: “Then [Jesus] arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’”
Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
I work two-part time jobs and I’ve got a place of my own. I owe my life to Jesus.