Testimony from former teammate, Nicholsen

Nico is currently living in New Zealand with his wife and two sons, but he has an amazing testimony below.

Nico: "I thank our Lord that his eyes are always watching me, even when I fall."

One morning we woke up and my mum made breakfast. After we finished breakfast, Dad went off to work and my older brother went to school. My mum was busy cleaning the house. I was about 4-5 years old playing and running around the house when suddenly darkness covered my eyes. I passed out and didn't realize that I had fallen down. My mum found me lying unconscious on the floor. She screamed, cried out for help, and a moment later I was in the hospital. I was breathing but couldn't talk or even open my eyes. The doctor found out later that I had something like a fever in my brain. A Chinese doctor managed to save me; I slept in the hospital for almost 3 weeks.

My parents got me out of the hospital and we moved to my mum's village called Pango, on Efate Island. I went to school and really liked having new friends. At one time I remember walking to school with my cousins and friends. I thought to myself that I would never get sick again, would always be happy like this. I recall a cool breeze and beautiful sunshine while greeting relatives, "good morning," on the way to school, with smiling faces. It wasn't even a month later that something terrible happened to me. I got a skin disease on both of my legs, from my knees to my toes. My skin started to come off, with water and blood coming out. I couldn't sleep at night and now I was spending most of my time crying. Sitting in class, I could not concentrate on what the teacher was trying to explain. All of my friends were scared of sitting close to me because of my skin disease. It stung so bad that I was also ashamed of myself. On the floor where I sat, there was always a pool of water that came out of my legs. This made me weaker and weaker. I suffered from this disease for about 5 years.

In 1992 we moved to the small island of Malo where my Dad had grown up, and I have sharp memories from there. I went to school for several weeks, but then had to stay home because I couldn't even walk anymore. My knees were bent; I couldn't straighten them. There was no school for me for some years. My mum tried her best to help me by taking me to the clinic-- which was many hours' walk away-- and they always gave me penicillin, panadol (Tylenol), Vaseline ointment and an injection. My mum and grandma prayed for me. Some of my relatives wanted to give me leaf (herbal) medicine or take me to a clever (witch doctor). I got all kinds of local treatment , but my disease got worse.

My grandma was very old and became so sick my parents decided to take her to the hospital on Santo Island. I thought it would be good if I went along in hopes that I could also get some treatment. The plan worked. I stayed with my grandma at the hospital. Everything was going well; I was quite happy at this time. Now I could walk and play, but was still thinking about how I was missing school. One day an Aunty came and talked to me about going to school. She said that she could help; she used to teach in a village in Santo bush called Fanafo. I liked the idea of school, so I went with her to Fanafo. During the first month I loved it: the island food, the people and the river. It was so good that I started to feel this happiness again which I had lost for about 11-12 years. However, it wasn't long before something happened to me again.

My Aunty was a cruel woman. She used to beat my uncle with wood, stones or anything that she could throw. I got beat up, too, almost every day. When she wasn't happy about something I did, she was so scary she ran me out of the house with stones, knife, or even big sticks. Sometimes I would sleep in the kitchen or garden. I could go without food for 2-3 days. I remember sometimes running to the locals when they finished harvesting their sweet potatoes. They burnt the harvesting area with dry coconut leaves. After it had finished burning, I would go and collect the leftover food that had already cooked, and then I would eat them to fill my stomach for a day or two. I prayed and cried sometimes to the Lord about this challenge I was going through. It seemed really tough. I got beat up one day on the middle of the gravel road by my Aunty. She held me high, turned me upside down and dropped me down. Blood was all over my head. She rolled me over in cow poop. I cried and begged her to stop beating me up. I was so hurt that I needed an operation.

I went back to Malo after my parents heard the whole story. My mum cried and hugged me. She said she would never forgive my Aunty for what she did to me. But for 12 more years I continued to suffer from the skin disease. I still remember one evening when my mum finally told me, "Nicholson, I am tired of taking care of you, tired of giving you food. You didn't do anything good to us. I even took water for you to bathe. I'm tired of treating your disease. It would be better for you to die so we can rest." In that moment I felt I wasn't welcome home by my family anymore. That evening I walked off to the bush crying and crying. I took a small knife with me and climbed up a tall tree so that nobody could see me. Sitting on the top of that tree, holding the knife to my chest, I thought of how everybody treated me. Even my own mum had rejected me. It really broke my heart. I almost stabbed my chest with the knife when another thought came to me: "you still have a second chance." I looked up and cried, "Lord if you heal my disease, my two feet will take your word to the whole world." That was my prayer to the Lord. A week later the Lord healed me and my disease was gone.

About 10-12 years later I joined YWAM. That was 2007. After doing my DTS on Aore Island, one of the small islands next to Santo, I went to New Caledonia for 3-4 months, then to New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia for further training and ministry. It is a huge blessing to know that in hard times like this, God is always close by. If we open our heart and talk to Him, He will always help us because he loves us. I thank our Lord that his eyes are always watching me, even when I fall. We are all His beloved children, no matter what. The joy of the Lord is our strength; we can have hope above all circumstances.

I am so blessed to work with the Liliords and Widups in Up & Up Ministries. I am always encouraged in working with this beautiful family of our Lord, and I honour them for the good work in the ministry they do for the Lord. And thank you all for whatever you do for the Lord; do it for the glory of our Lord.

Thank you.

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