About 250 women met for a City Women Breakfast on Saturday 13th April at Rangeville Community Church to hear Kim Den Hertog, former drug addict and prostitute, share her testimony of God’s incredible grace and healing of her broken, shattered life.
The ladies were deeply impacted by Kim’s story of being ‘sold’, as a little child, to her adoptive father’s men friends, of being treated like a dog until something died on the inside of her and she believed the lie I am not worth anything. Her father once hung her by the heels over a snake pit at the zoo, as a ‘joke’ and none of the bystanders stopped him. That’s when she took on board the lie that you can’t rely on people, they won’t help you. As a little girl, she loved horses but had to ‘pay’ by allowing the horse’s owner to touch her inappropriately – hence another lie – I will never be given anything unless I pay in return.
By 18 she was on heroin, drinking heavily and had her first child. In and out of abusive relationships, she was shamed and abused by men after they had visited strip clubs and she believed the lie that I am fat and ugly. If I was beautiful like the strippers, I would be loved. As a prostitute, she had rocks thrown at her, was spat upon, called foul names and was driven out of shops. She was often severely beaten and, when threatened with a gun, pleaded with her partner to shoot her.
Kim was almost dead when Transformations, a Christian rehab centre took her in. There she discovered for the first time how much Jesus loves her, how He could heal her deep wounds with His truth and bring her peace. Kim says, “If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I wouldn’t be alive today. Now I want to set men and women free from the lies they have told themselves because of past experience. What we believe about ourselves will determine where we go in life!”
The theme of the breakfast was ‘Creating a Better Future for Our Daughters – What Does It Take?’ John 12:24, the answer, was expanded upon by some of the City Women leaders who spoke about their personal experiences of being ‘like a grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies’, in laying down their lives for others in order to ‘produce much grain’, or changes for the better for women and girls of Toowoomba.
One of the women present at the City Women Breakfast said,
I was so challenged by what Kim had to say … As she was talking about all those awful things that had been done to her and how those things began to make her believe lies about herself – lies that made her think she wasn’t beautiful, that she wasn’t worth anything etc, I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I believe so many of those same lies about myself”… I haven’t grown up in a family that mistreated me, I haven’t got any deep rooted hurt or pain in my life and I’ve not experienced any real hardship… And yet I still believe these lies about myself.
City Women exists to encourage women to see themselves as God sees them. He says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Even people from loving families can believe the devil’s lies about themselves, and City Women is fighting for the conviction that every single human life has infinite value and worth. To engage in this fight is costly, it involves laying down our lives for others at the foot of the cross. As Liz Hamilton challenges, we can be like Jonah, sitting in church each week, with a nice job and a good family, having done creche, mothers’ groups, youth, dishes and pottery, all in the name of Jesus!
Because we are happy with the way things are, it is comfortable! Perhaps there’s behaviour that we don’t want to let go of. Perhaps because we, like Jonah, like our patterns of familiarity or people- pleasing activities? Perhaps it’s because we don’t want our homes to get out of hand. Our excuse may be as legitimate as a new job 3,218km away (the distance from Joppa to Nineveh)! Or perhaps it is because we like the one- off mission trips – fun and an adventure – but call me to missions long-term? Yeah… no!
Some commentators would say that Jonah was used by God to bring judgement to Nineveh. However, as I see it – Nineveh was used as a tool to confront the individual Christian and to reveal the great mercy and love that God has for a city.
The book of Jonah is a wonderful reassurance that the job He has given us to do will not only bring about change and make our city a better place but that there is a big God whose unchangeable grace, provision and plan will also rescue us and redeem us. This is the story of many of you who have died to self. This is the City Women story. We are not Nineveh we are Toowoomba – God has given us a job to do. Let’s stop the running and let’s get to work, together.