God my deliverer

My name is Laurence. I was born in a town called Barnstaple in North Devon, England. I grew up in a small seaside town called Ilfracombe. From an early age I began to be interested in tennis. Within a few years by the time I was twelve years old I had already attained a reasonable level. I became a local champion winning quite a few competitions.

After a while I could see that if I wanted to progress further I would need a full-time coach. My dad found one for me in another seaside town called Torquay.

He was a very good coach and in no time at all I was making great strides and improving fast.

By the time I was sixteen I decided to leave school and try and make a career out of tennis. My coach invited me to go and live with him where I could help him in his coaching work and at the same time he would help me to make it as a Professional tennis player. I agreed even though I was a little scared of him as he was a very aggressive man and I was naive and probably the most timid boy in the country. I thought it would be a good step for my career and as tennis was the most important thing in my life(I lived for tennis) I agreed to go.

My parents didn't stand in my way, which in retrospect, perhaps they should have done, after all I was only 16. In their defense however they could see how important tennis was to me and they let me go.

Things were fine for a while, I was earning money and I enjoyed the extra coaching sessions(for free). My relationship with my coach improved, although to be honest I was still scared as he could be quite severe and explosive with his temper if I did something he didn't like, some of it deserved, other times I'm not so sure.

As I said things were ok until one day out of the blue my coach decided that I would no longer be able to sleep on the sofa as it was damaging to the sofa to have someone constantly sleeping on it and I would have to sleep in his bed from now on. As naive as I was I thought nothing of it although perhaps I should have been suspicious. That night he masturbated me. I felt dirty, disgusted with myself and very ashamed that I hadn't had the guts to react and to do something.

As I have already mentioned I was incredibly timid, I wouldn't have said boo to a goose. I was afraid to react, this guy frightened me. All of a sudden I felt very alone. My parents were 100 miles away, I had no real friends I could talk to. I was afraid even to tell anyone. I thought they might condmemn me because I hadn't done anything to stop him so I kept quiet, pretending nothing had happened. This carried on for years after that. I had to put up with rumours in all the tennis circles that we were lovers when all the time all I wanted to do was get away, to get out of this nightmare.

I got so desperate that I tried to commit suicide, I drank a bottle of whisky and I took what must have been close to 30 paracetomols. I also tried to slit my wrists but it was too painful(I obviously hadn't drunk enough whisky). The next morning I woke up covered in vomit, the only thing that was going through my head was 'shit it didn't work, I'm still alive'. I spent the whole of that day throwing up and thought I was going to die.

My coach was obviously shocked but couldn't understand why I had done it. I had tried a few times to confront him about what was happening but to no avail, as far as he was concerned he had done nothing wrong.

In the past I had tried to get away from him, to return home to my parents but he would tell me that I would be nothing without him, that I didn't have what it takes to make it in life. He told me that if I went back to Ilfracombe I would end up on the scrapheap, on the dole with no prospects.

Being someone who wasn't sure of himself anyway, I was severely lacking in self-confidence, I believed him and so it continued and even got worse. I eventually became so deadened to the situation that I even engaged in sexual acts that completely disgusted me, I didn't care anymore, I felt no self-worth, I hated myself for what I had become, for what I had let happen.

At one stage I even contemplated killing my coach. We were on the island of Malta where we were spending the winter. I was training with the Maltese davis cup team. I had it all worked out. I would get hold of some sleeping pills, crush them into a drink which I would offer to my coach just before going to bed. When he was fast asleep I would get the hammer and bash his ugly head into tiny pieces.

After a while he moved out permanently to live and work in Malta. By this time I had become more or less totally dependent on him, I had been brainwashed into thinking that alone I was inadequate. Anyway he left me in England to fend for myself. I took over his former jobs and to begin with I really enjoyed my new found freedom but It was a real struggle to make ends meet and I felt myself still needing a crutch as though I was incapable of making it on my own.

As a consequence I spent the winters in Malta. The winters were especially bad for a tennis coach in England who didn't have the facilities, I just didn't have enough to survive the winter and my coach persuaded me that I should spend my winters in Malta. I din't want to but I didn't know what else to do. I certainly didn't want to go back to Ilfracombe and end up on the dole otherwise I felt that I would get 'I told you so' from my coach.

One summer I met a girl called Eve. She was just the most beautiful thing. I fell in love with her, I was besotted. At last I thought I had found someone who could help me out of my terrible situation. I wanted to tell her but I was afraid of rejection. I didn't want to lose her, she was the best thing to happen in my life.

The winter trips to Malta continued. The feelings of guilt got worse, I couldn't stand it any longer. One day on a rock in Malta by the edge of the sea I cried out to God for the first time in my life. Isn't it funny how people cry out to God when things are desperate. I asked him to take my life, that I couldn't stand it anymore, that I'd rather die than go on like this.

I began to refuse to do the things my coach wanted me to do, from somewhere I had found the strength to resist. One night he offered to pay me for my services. Suddenly it all clicked, it all became clear like a bright shining light. I knew I had to get out of this situation for good. It had gotten to the lowest of lows to where I was being treated as a prostitute when God spoke into my situation in response to my cry.

He showed me the sinfulness of my situation. Before that I had blocked it all out as if I had locked it all away and thrown away the key, I didn't allow myself to think about it, but now it was clear, I had to get out.

All of a sudden I felt God's presence so near, revealing himself to me through creation. I began to see things differently, I began to see things through God's eyes. Within a few days I was back in England and I was free! Never again did I go back to Malta and it was several years before I even saw my coach again.

I had to tell Eve. I couldn't go on living a lie. She took it well considering but it did change our relationship. She moved away onto new pastures and our relationship ended. I was devastated but in my pain God was there. He helped me through it and he healed me. I cried almost every day but God was so good. After a while the joy of the Lord hit me like a ton of bricks and those next few months were the best of my life. I witnessed to everything that moved about how God had touched my life but until now have never shared the full story.

He put a wonderful woman in my path called Gabrielle who is now my wife. We now have two gorgeous children called Emmanuelle and Naomi. Whereas before I was living in a dingy bedsit in Torquay scraping a living I now have a lovely house and a good job which I really enjoy.

Things have not been easy, I have had to struggle to overcome my problems but God has always been there, he has never left me. He has helped me through it all and I know that he will never leave me and that one day I will be with him in Heaven where there will be no more pain or tears or evil.

He has helped me to forgive my coach. I feel no anger or bitterness. I have visited him once since I Ieft the island of Malta all those years ago. I went with my wife(who knows all about what happened) to visit him in Torquay with my first child about 3 years ago. I have been able to put it all behind me thanks to the grace of God. I don't feel guilt anymore. God has cleasned me and now I know that by the cleansing flow of his blood which he poured out at Calvary he sees me as white as snow.

I have a bright future and my dark and ugly past in but a distant memory. I thank God and I praise him that he took me out of that pit and he has blessed my life.

If you are going through a dark and ugly place, I urge you to cry out to God. He can lift you out of that pit and turn your mourning into Joy.
Testimony submitted to the Breadsite. To submit yours click here.