Today's post was written by Mohana Shull, a Brook Hills small group leader who was born and raised in Viña del Mar, Chile. She is married to Jared and has two precious little boys, Nate and Isaiah.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart:" -Jeremiah 1:5

I can’t even say this story is my own. It is God’s. I hope that this story will give you hope and allow you to see the great redemption and faithfulness that Jesus brings to each of us in a very special way.

For me, everything started 40 years ago in the most beautiful city of the world, right by the Pacific Ocean, in Viña del Mar, Chile, when my 51 year-old dad found out I was coming into this world. He asked my mom to abort me, probably more than three times. I was definitely an inconvenience for their hard working schedules, but God had other plans for my life.

My dad made my mom unload a truck full of produce one day, and she went into premature labor. I came very close to dying that day, and even my dad told my mom that I had passed away. They went home from the hospital without me. God graciously preserved my life, and through the providential help of a social worker, I was brought home. As my mother told me later, my dad saw me and fell in love with me when I arrived home.

My childhood was not easy. My dad was a very stern man and was not a believer. My mother and I were physically and verbally abused all our lives. I learned how read one afternoon with a back full of bruises from his belt. I was terrified of him, but at the same time, I didn’t know that life could be any different.

I have lots of memories from my childhood. Sadly, not many of them are happy, but I have one in particular that I want to share with you because it shows clearly how the Lord brought great healing years later. I had to do several chores at home, and one of them was to feed “onces” to my dad (sort of a light dinner). So, one day, I was playing with a puzzle my mom got me. It was my favorite puzzle. I was making some toast for my dad and playing at the same time. Bad idea. I got too excited about my puzzle and forgot I was toasting bread, and it burned. My dad was so mad at me that he hit me a couple times, grabbed my puzzle, and burned it. I was so very sad. But I never imagined God would use this episode in my life in the years to come. I promise this part gets better soon!

My parents had a produce and fish store. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was able to stay home by myself while my parents went shopping for the store supplies (early, early morning), so I would have to do some chores before my dad would come home. I was not allowed to play with dolls or to watch TV while he was gone. Sometimes, I would sneak out and watch TV anyway, always making sure the TV would not get warm in the back so my dad would not find out that I disobeyed him. One of those days, I watched an evangelist on TV, and I realized I needed a Savior to redeem me from my sins. I prayed with him over the TV and didn’t send him a note as he requested to those who believed because I didn’t want to get caught by my dad.

We lived next door to a baptist church. The pastor and people from the church would invite us to visit over and over, but my dad didn’t want anything to do with them. After several years, I was finally allowed to go to VBS, and I absolutely loved it.

When I was in high school, there was an international crusade at that church, and we were invited to come. There was a pastor from the U.S. visiting, and since my dad always encouraged me to learn English, he decided to let me attend. That day I walked down the aisle and said the prayer again, but still didn’t surrender completely to the Lord. I thought I was basically a good kid and I got my “fire insurance.” The same week my parents attended to the services, and both of them became Christians.

Later that year, my dad got very ill. He was a diabetic and ended up having kidney failure and started dyalisis. Our financial status changed dramatically. All of the sudden, my dad was in and out of hospitals, and my mom was unable to work because she needed to take care of my dad. The stores were closed, and I started college. The Lord provided a scholarship, so I could study for free. Many times we had nothing to eat, but the Lord was always faithful and out of nowhere people from church or even friends would come to my house and bring food. We never had a day without being provided for by Him. Absolutely all by Him.

"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." -Psalm 37:25

For part 2 of Mohana's story, visit us next Tuesday, September 10.