“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
Psalm 32:7 (NIV)
I experienced God at such a young age that the deacons in the church questioned if I knew what I was doing. I was six when I felt a gentle push and an overpowering unction to go forward and join the church one Sunday.
As my life has transpired, I understood that my coming forward truly was God’s doing. I can see why he had me come forth so early in my childhood.
My mom had five girls and one boy. She was a teacher and divorced, but she had a friend. I was his favorite. Being the favorite is important when you’re a kid, but then one day when I was ten, I found out what favorite was to him. It was a fearful moment in my life, but God was with me.
My mother’s friend reeked of alcohol when he drove me to a wooded area. I can still remember how fast my heart was pounding. “Why are we here?” I asked him. Even though I didn’t know why, I knew it wasn’t a good thing.
“If you tell anybody about this, I’m going to kill your mom and then I’m going to kill you,” he said, opening the glove box and pulling out a gun. I looked around to see how I could escape, but he’d taken me so far out that I didn’t know where I was, but I did know one thing—God was with me.
The man pushed me down flat on the seat. When he finally pulled away, he said, “You’ve done this before.” I was too young then to know what he was talking about, but later when I did, I knew that he was so inebriated that night that he thought he had done what he set out to do, but he hadn’t. That wasn’t a burden that God wanted me to bear.
The man kept trying to get to me, but each time, God protected me. Once, my mom caught the man. She took me and ran. The next day, she called the police. They could arrest the man, but the story would be in the paper and Mom might lose her job. She didn’t press charges, and she made me promise not to tell my daddy or granddaddy because they’d kill the man and end up in prison. Worst of all, she stayed in relationship with the man.
The summer I was fourteen, I got a
job as a dishwasher at the Hilton Inn. I was excited to be making me some
money. One day when I came home from work, my mom said she was taking me to her
daddy’s. I’d just started
my job. I didn’t want to go, but she insisted on packing me off to the opposite
end of the state. She dropped me at my grandparents’ just outside of
Tallahassee, then drove back home to Naples to teach summer school the next
My grandfather worked out of town during the week. My grandmother was an invalid. Caring for her fell totally to me. It was a very difficult summer. Why had my mother sent me—and only me—away? By the time I got the courage to ask her, I was a married woman with a child of my own on the way. We both cried when she answered my question.
“He said he’d pay me $3,000 for you,
and if I wouldn’t take the money, he’d take you anyway,” she told me. I
wondered what all the man had put her through when she returned from
Tallahassee without me.
Whenever I’d read or hear stories about girls being molested, brutalized and killed, for a long time I asked why God protected me from those same things.
Through the years, when I developed a heart for helping young people in situations similar to mine, I found a piece of the answer. Pamela Solomon Sooknanan