by Bill Simon

The Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of the continent of Australia. They are a nomadic people who have very strong family ties and family values, with the elders guiding and counselling each community. Even within the tribal groups, as a general rule, there has historically been peaceful co-existence, each recognising the commonly-held territorial demarcations.

With the coming of the European settlers, beginning with Captain Cook, the life of the Aboriginal people changed dramatically. Many times they were forcibly removed from their lands and put into missions and settlements. The European way of life was then imposed upon them by white managers.

Often children were taken away from their parents in the tribal setting and made wards of the State. The so-called reason for this was to re-educate them to the European way of life.

I was one such child, forced to leave my family. As they carried me away I cried out for my mother but she turned her back on me. Both of us were hurt by the incident and this began a big rejection problem that was to effect my life for many years.

Life as a Ward of the State

Being a ward of the State was not too different from being in the army. Very strong discipline was applied and harsh treatment was the norm of daily life. For example, my three little brothers had a problem wetting the bed. The punishment for this was for the guilty child to wash the sheets, hang them up and stand out in the cold at attention and miss their breakfast. On top of this, if a child wet the bed more than three times he or she got caned.

We were often made to scrub the toilets and bathrooms with a toothbrush. If we spoke back to the white staff they had us run the gauntlet between lines of the other children and everyone had to punch and hit us as we ran through, which often resulted in blood flowing. After that we would be made to spend three days in a small room and fed on bread and water. This was just a small part of the suffering. In addition, we were educated not to associate with our own people in the tribal context.

It was no wonder I grew up in an environment of hatred and rejection. This resulted in a life of alcohol and drug abuse, resulting in violence and jail. When I arrived at jail for the first time, it was just like going back to the conditions of being a ward of the State as a boy. This started a cycle of being cast into jail as a regular experience. It appeared I had no future except more of the same.

Added to regular acid trips, I began drinking pure methylated spirits. I had a severe gambling addiction, with my own personal bookmaker to feed the gambling habit. It was in the drug scene, which was destroying my life, that I came upon the answer to my anger and rejection.

The turning point was an acid trip that was so serious that I started to run hot and cold temperatures. My skin turned yellow all over and the music was really loud in my ears even though I had turned off the radio. Then I saw many demon spirits all around the top of the room grinning at me. They started to come down closer and closer. I knew I needed help. I was so distressed I thought, "Who can I get to help me?" I remembered my grandmother who was a Christian. Even though she had already died, I felt this was my only source of help, so I cried out to her. But, of course, nothing happened. Then, remembering my grandmother's faith, I thought that just maybe her God was real and that there really is a Jesus Christ, so I cried out to Jesus for help.

Immediately the music in my head stopped. The demon spirits disappeared. There was peace and stillness all around me and the colour of my skin went back to normal. I knew that I had been released from alcohol, drugs, smoking and gambling. The desire for these things had left me completely. It was a miracle.

The Miracle of Forgiveness

I had been given a Bible when I was sixteen, and now at 31 I began to read it for the first time. God began to teach me. He told me that He had been there for me all the time, knocking at my heart's door. All I had to do was respond. No one had ever told me that I needed to ask Jesus into my heart.

Today I am serving the Lord, together with my wife, Kaylene, and reaching out particularly to my people with the message of God's love, forgiveness, healing and salvation. Forgiveness is not just a word to me. It is a miracle that has changed my life through the power of Jesus Christ.

My vision in preaching the Gospel is to bring reconciliation within the lives of my people as well as in the wider Australian community. My favourite song can be an inspiration for you who are reading this true story:

Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same!

Source: Bill Simon, Maitland, NSW, Australia.

If you would like to meet Bill and Kaylene Simon, click here. If you would like to meet the Jesus who changed Bill's life, click here.