From the depths of despair to active Christian ministry

A vision of Jesus during her lowest point in life has helped shape Ginette Rolland’s ministry today.

Born in Quebec, Ginette was educated in an English school instead of a French school, because her parents had become Protestant. Only a few years before Ginette began attending school, her parents had become Christians and joined the Mennonite Brethren church in Saint-Jérôme. Ginette met her husband at church, and they married when she was very young. They stopped going to church for about 10 years, but eventually they returned to Saint-Jérôme.

Meanwhile, Ginette’s life became fragmented. Balancing life with four children and some difficult situations at home, she and her husband sought counselling. It was at this time that Ginette began to face personal issues related to childhood sexual abuse.

She thought that church should be a place for help and healing, and that Christians should be good listeners. But that was not what she experienced at all. She felt betrayed. Because she was sliding into depression, she felt pushed to the periphery and very often misunderstood. Often she received the comment from people in church that her problem was that she was not depending upon God enough. “Hurry up and get over it,” she was told. Those words hurt rather than offering comfort and healing.

Ginette spent considerable time in bed over a two-year period. She had many fears and lived with much anguish and anxiety. She did not function well and felt ill-equipped to function within her own family and at work.

Something unusual

During Ginette’s lowest period, something very unusual happened to her. While lying in bed, she had visions of Jesus coming into her room. At first, she was scared of him. Like a little girl hiding in a room, she withdrew. She did not like Jesus being that close. But Jesus waited for her.

Eventually, she let him come closer and finally, let him come and sit beside her and stroke her hair and head. He stayed with her. She always felt that Jesus was not putting any pressure on her. He was always available for her as she took one step at a time both in her healing and in her faith in God.

Today, she realizes that circumstances in her past, the stress of raising four children, and some unhappy relationships had pushed her into depression. When she could name it and understand it, she was able to be healed.

Today, Ginette teaches adult education in a high school in Saint-Jérôme. She teaches Canadian history and English as a second language. Her involvements also include working with sexually abused people. She is very involved with the MB church in Saint-Jérôme, and sits on the Quebec provincial board of MB churches as well as the executive board of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.

But it was that very real vision of Jesus beside her bed that raised her from the depths of despair to new life in Christ. It compelled her to be a good listener to bring help and consolation wherever she can.

Ken Reddig lives in Pinawa, Man., and is executive secretary of the MB Historical Commission.

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