Amanda, 36, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At age 12, I was sexually abused by a 20-year-old man. By the time I realized that something wasn’t right, it was too late. It was horrifying. The abuse stripped me of my childhood and dreams, leaving me with a deep distrust of men, depression, and suicidal thoughts. For 18 years, this was my secret.
Shame plagued me, even when I finally began telling people. There was a massive void in me. In an attempt to fill it, I went in search of money and fame. From 2013 to 2016, I worked as an actress in Rio de Janeiro. I hoped that external validation would feel like love and enable me to finally love myself…of course, it didn’t. As my career and profile grew, my state of mind remained the same. I wasn’t happy at all; I was on TV and in films, but I still had the same sense of purposelessness.
Fortunately, God had a plan. From the foundation of the world, He knew that He would bring me out of darkness and into His light. It began in 2013, when I “randomly” asked my boyfriend if I could visit his church. I was surprised by my own request; at the time, I didn’t even believe in a higher power, let alone the God of the Bible. In hindsight, it’s clear that God’s hand was in it!
At church that Sunday, the pastor presented the entire story of humanity’s salvation, from the Fall to redemption through Jesus Christ. When I heard John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” — I wept. There in that church, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes. The weight and consequences of my sins were apparent. In tears, I asked God for forgiveness and confessed Jesus as my Savior. I was then overcome by a supernatural outpouring of love. His love is the greatest love that I’ve ever felt! What an irresistible grace!
In the following years, I got very ill. After undergoing lung surgery in 2016, God very clearly instructed me to quit my career, break up with my boyfriend, and leave Rio de Janeiro. I obeyed. I left Rio for the small town where my mom and grandma lived. I spent that time serving at a local church, growing spiritually, and waiting on God. I eventually decided to sign up for a ten-day trial of a Christian dating site. Within only a few days, I’d met my now-husband, Brandon. After 3 months, we got married and I moved to America. My husband is a godly, loving man and caring pastor.
Before Christ, I maintained the image of a proud, independent woman, though I was battling profound hurts and wounds on the inside. When I met Jesus, I met a different kind of man — a man I could trust. His love is faithful, freely given, sacrificial, and restorative.
Knowing Jesus as my Savior and Lord has radically changed me, and His love continues to bring healing and wholeness into my life. I still struggle a lot with my health, but I have peace in knowing that my Heavenly Father is in control; moreover, His power is made perfect in my weakness! Christ is the living water…the peace, joy, and love we’re all so thirsty for is found only in Him.
I am deeply loved by a Heavenly Father. His tender, divine love rescued me — and it’s available to you, too.