It was past midnight.

I had a nightmare. By Leola Hoppe.

The scream finally came out, as if mustered with all the strength I could find, as if there was forced suppression over my mouth. 

It was past midnight. The lights came on, and my parents were at my door. They looked worried, and my father, ever the pragmatist - said -" You have had a nightmare." As if to say, this is not real. Mother was quiet, and even my brother was awake and curious.

I nodded in embarrassment to my parents, partly relieved to have them looking over me and partly in fear of the recurrence of what happened. What happened

I felt an ominous presence hovering over me, and a hideous ghastly face appeared in my thoughts. I tried to scream, but no sound came out; I felt voiceless, gasping with all my might to let the sound out. I asked for His help, and only then was my voice loosened. This incident has remained in my memory until today. 

 I am now married and a mother to three children, two of whom are grown teenagers and one a young adult.

What to make of it? 

I tried to understand it logically. The horrific childhood traumas were certainly a factor to weigh in, and parental marriage troubles did impact me. I knew that mother was pregnant with me before she and father married - so there were negative emotions she had carried alongside me in her womb. There were whispers about her having tried to abort me in desperation at one point. 

Mother and father were of different races in post-colonial Malaya. There were also racial riots in 1969. Mother said she ran home from the market on May 13th in fear of stumbling down in a fall while pregnant with me as the crowds shouted in chaos.

These frightening episodes in my sleep occurred from time to time as I reached adolescence. My friends have shared similar experiences. The choking, the inability to scream, the fear, and most notably, having an awareness of an evil presence in their midst. But could it not have all been just imagination?

Fortunately for me, I had been invited to the church at that time through friends and family relations. I had begun to know about Jesus.

It was not long after I received Jesus in my life that this suffering ended, and this nightmare stopped permanently. The last one ended with me calling out His name, and that was it; it never happened again. Such is the true power of His word. 

So when my faith is questioned or ridiculed, I cannot help recall how He protected me and ended the suffering I was going through. My courage and peace gradually grew, trusting Him. I healed. I grew and continued to rely on Him for the many challenges that came in my life.

From having survived sexual abuse by an uncle, my mother's anger towards me resulting in frequent beatings and then the subsequent collapse of my parents' bi-racial marriage, which broke my 13-year-old heart. I carried a load of guilt, thinking it was because of me they had to marry and that this seemingly doomed union was just not meant to be, and therefore, my siblings and I were not meant to be. 

That was an insidious lie, and I realized no one could heal me except Him. No one could comfort me except Him. No one could show me tenderness and true love except for Him. I am thankful for Him. Over the years, this progress has taken place. He makes sure I know how much He loves me all the time. I never forgot the first time He did; that was special and would be another time and another God story to share.

Why write this? Because I want to bring hope and courage to others who are hurting. If you are wondering if there is a God if He cares about you, and if there is hope if your existence has a meaning - I hope my story gives a resounding yes. Once upon a time, in my moment of despair, these thoughts were in my mind.

Leola Hoppe

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