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Amazing Grace

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

I was born in Imatra, Finland, in 1964 and was abandoned by my mother at seven months of age. I was taken in by a family who migrated to Australia when I was four. They were unable to legally take me with them, so I was then returned to my biological mother whom I had not seen since she abandoned me.


She would put me outside in the snow, naked, and her husband often took pleasure in fondling me. If I cried or talked she would whip me with a crown of thorns she proudly hung in the living room. I can clearly remember the immense pain and fear I felt. A neighbour who lived up on the hill witnessed some of what was happening to me. He called the police and I was soon removed and taken to an orphanage.


I recall an elderly woman cooking for the children upon my arrival and I found some comfort in her warm smile. The older boys would come at night. I didn't want them touching me. Just like my mother's husband, they would cover my mouth and do as they pleased with my body. Each night, paralysed in fear I lay waiting for the torment.


After suffering one year at the orphanage, my family who had migrated to Australia won a court battle to legally adopt me. I was flown to Australia alone at the age of five. Filled with confusion and surrounded by camera crews, I was finally reunited with my adoptive Finnish family at Adelaide Airport.


In the months that followed I was unable to speak due to the trauma I had endured in Finland. In those days psychological help wasn't very common. An uneasy feeling resided deep within me. I didn't feel safe or that I belonged, anywhere. Then, at the age of twelve, my parents separated.


Feeling inadequate and alone on my first day of high school, I was quick to become the class clown. I was drawn to the older boys. As my friendship with them developed I started taking drugs and skipping school.


One night I went with a friend to the city. We hung out there all night, walking up and down the street with some local gang members. From that night it was like I become addicted to hanging out in the city. The guys were all protective of me. For the first time in my life I felt somewhat safe.


One night a black Valiant pulled up where I was walking. The guys in the car said they needed me to take them to one of the local gang members. Believing them, my friend and I got in the car. We had to sit on their laps, as there were already six of them in there. Within minutes I knew we were in trouble. My friend and I scrambled to get out of the car, however only she was fortunate enough to get away. I was taken to a nearby house full of rough looking men. Pushed and dragged inside, I was violently raped.


I became filled with hate for the men who had violated me; for my biological mother for bringing me into the world; for my step-father for hurting us and not protecting us. Hate for life.



I was done.


In my remaining adolescent years I lashed out, committing crimes as a coping mechanism to deal with my anger and hatred. Lying on the floor of a prison cell, I wondered what was going to become of my life. Would I ever find anyone to love me, to love me unconditionally?


At the age of twenty I discovered I was pregnant. Part of me feared I would treat this child as I had been treated. Another part of me felt an overwhelming love and protection for my unborn child. In March of 1985 she came into my world and instantly become my world as well. She was reason enough to stop all the crime and drugs, giving purpose to my life.

Twenty months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. During the pregnancy I left my children's father as he had threatened to take our lives. We went to stay with my sister-in- law. She asked to pray for me. She preached to me about God until I couldn't take it anymore and I returned home with my babies.


Soon after, both of my children become ill and were hospitalised. Upon admission I had listed my religion as 'Lutheran', prompting a Lutheran chaplain to visit us each day. He fascinated me, leaving me wondering why he was bothering to spend time with us daily. On one of these visits he left a Bible, which I peaked at our of curiosity but found it hard to comprehend.


Home from the hospital, feeling alone and afraid, I broke down in tears and called a helpline number listed in the telephone directory. I was told someone would come out to visit me that night, but no one came. I cried myself to sleep.


The following day there was a knock at my door and a beautiful lady with a warm, soft smile introduced herself to me as the Lutheran lay worker. I told her she had the wrong address. She informed me that the chaplain at the hospital had contacted her and told her of our situation.


I welcomed her inside. She stayed for five hours playing with my children, helping to feed them and clean my home. She had such a peaceful presence about her that I felt no threat in talking with her as openly as I could. The more I got to know her, the more comfortable I felt. Then she asked me how I felt about a particular period in my life. I had never been questioned about 'feelings'. The meaning of this word seemed quiet foreign to me.


She offered to come and have Bible studies with me at home. But I was highly intrigued to see what I might experience at church, so the following Sunday I put both children in the pram and walked to the church. For the next three years I went back and forth to church, questioning what had been preached only to find that those whom I questioned loved me unconditionally and forgave me endlessly.


One night I began talking to God and it was as though a switch was turned on. It suddenly hit me right in the heart that the love and forgiveness that had been demonstrated to me for the past three years was the character of God revealed through his people. Now I wanted more of him. I figured if Jesus was love, then I wanted to immerse myself and my children in that love for the rest of our lives.



The more I got to know Jesus, the more peace, healing and love saturated my soul. In my early twenties I returned to Finland to meet my biological mother, and although I was met with heartache and disappointment, I leaned on God and allowed him to carry me.


For many years I faced my fears and past traumas with the help of God. Over time, fear was replaced with love. My inadequacies diminished as I found my confidence and hope in God. I discovered that God is full of surprises. He healed me completely. I'd only been a Christian a short time when I received a phone call to share my testimony at a high school, and even though I felt overcome with panic I knew in my heart that God was going to use my story for his purpose in helping others. The principal of the high school at which I spoke called me and asked me to be a chaplain for the school. Thinking that I had to have some kind of theological degree I declined. However, he went to my pastor and at a meeting with the inter-church council all the ministers voted and agreed for me to become chaplain.


It was then I realised that with God I could do anything he calls me to. Some years later I founded a mission team at church, birthed by my heart's desire to help those in need in third world countries. I was chosen to go on a mission trip to Thailand, having served with an organisation for seven years.


One things that stands out for me when I reflect on my faith journey is the incredible power of prayer. It has been the key for me, for my healing, for guidance, for forgiveness and having my needs met. Not only have I been blessed with beautiful children, grandchildren, and an abundance of friends, I am also married to the most godly, caring, humble and loving man - who I met via cycling when we were still ten thousand miles apart.



This story was first published in 2017 by Liisa Grace-Baun in "The Gecko Renewal". For more true stories of faith, visit the storiesoflife.net.


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