Paul and Julia Nicholson from Herts Mid Branch recently met with Helen Nicolas, this is her story.
“I grew up in a Greek Cypriot family, my parents having emigrated to this country in the 50s. I was the oldest of 5 children and when I was 18 months old I was sent to live with my grandmother in Cyprus for around 2 years. When I returned I had a younger sister and brother. I didn’t know my mum and due to my father being very abusive and violent my mum had a lot to deal with and the last thing she could cope with was another child who she did not know or love. By the age of 9 there were another 2 children.
As I grew up I wasn’t treated as a member of the family, I was a burden and I knew it. I had to cook, clean, and look after my siblings. I only spoke when I was spoken to and I was blamed for everything bad my siblings did and was punished in their place. It was an awful childhood. I was alone, insecure and lost.
When I went to secondary school at the age of 11 I was so scared. I had no self-confidence, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I wouldn’t speak. One day we went to assembly and were given the Gideon New Testament. I stood there clutching the New Testament to my chest saying, “God loves me, God the Father loves me and no one can take it away.” From that day on I read one chapter of my New Testament every night in secret. I was scared that if my parents found out they would throw my New Testament away. I prayed and talked with my Father in Heaven and He helped me get through the next 5 years.
At 16 two things happened. I left school as my father didn’t believe in further education for us girls. We were to be married and have children. He believed in arranged marriages so started the process. My father always had his own business and it was assumed that I would go and work with him until a husband was found, but a few months before I finished school he lost his business so the school helped find me a job.
On the first day of work I saw my manageress reading her Bible during her lunch break. She was the first person I had ever seen who read the Bible. I plucked up the courage and went in and told her I had been reading my Gideon New Testament every day since I was 11 and had so many questions. Each lunch time we sat and read the Bible together and she led me to the Lord.
Although the years have passed with all its ups and downs, the words, “God loves me, God the Father loves me” have remained in my heart and mind. First and foremost God is my Father and I have lived my life with that assurance from that very first day. I am eternally grateful to The Gideons for taking the time and for having the heart to come and share the love of God to us 11 year olds.”