Tackling domestic violence
As Tina Laws struggled to get out of an abusive relationship, her grandmother had faith that God would use the hardship for good.
It took nearly 30 years before Bernice Brangman's prayers came to fruition.
Mrs Laws offers counselling to people affected by domestic violence through the business she opened this year, UnderKonstruction.
“She knew that I was in an abusive relationship in my late teens,” Mrs Laws said of her late grandmother. “She told me, ‘One day God is going to use this, all of this, for your good'.
“I never realised that would be possible, but I'm here 26 years later and everything she spoke is coming to pass. I didn't tell other people about the physical abuse back then, but I told her and used to talk to her about it and she would tell me to keep praying. She said, ‘God is going to use every experience you go through in this relationship so that He will get the glory out of it'. I didn't fully understand it, although I trusted her. Years later and I'm still in awe with how God is working in my business and how it is all happening.”
Mrs Laws had been working in Social Services but didn't feel she was doing enough of God's work.
“God's hand has definitely been on UnderKonstruction,” she said.
“Even though there were many years of preparation for this, last year is when I really started to pray and ask God what's my purpose on this Earth, what am I here for?
“I loved my job in social services and the clients I worked with, but for some reason I still felt empty.
“I didn't feel I was doing as much as I was created by God to do and [women] kept coming to me.
“Through my daily interactions in social services I would meet couples that would share about possible abuse and when I would go to certain places, women would just start talking to me about abuse. It was happening so much.
“Then this year while I was sitting down and talking with my girlfriend about what we wanted to do for God and that's when I got the idea. I said, ‘This is it Lord. If this is what you have called me to do show me how to take that next step.'
“Two days after that I had clients and offers dropping right in my lap.”
Mrs Laws works with everyone from executives to the unemployed, helping them to heal from abusive situations.
“Each time I work with these clients God reveals over and over that He's using me to bless them,” she said. “I never want to get to a place with UnderKonstruction where I'm comfortable. I always want to rely on prayer and lean on God's wisdom.”
Mrs Laws was an occasional churchgoer as a child. In 2001 she surrendered her life to the Lord. That day she went to church at her mother's invitation and felt God pulling on her heartstrings.
“What I was doing in my life up to that point wasn't working,” she said. “I had broken free from that abusive relationship and was now newly married to a really amazing man, my husband Shawn. But I still felt I needed God's direction in my life. My grandmother had instilled that in us from children that whatever we decide to do — get married or have children — always put God first in your life because without Him there's not too many things we will be successful at doing.
“After giving my life over to Christ I stopped partying — I used to love a party — and my language changed. Before, a curse word was so easy for me. My heart just changed. To be really honest, I just stopped trying to do everything myself and trusted God and prayed and He has led me here to this path.”
Mrs Laws will be the guest speaker at Mt Zion AME Church's women's fellowship event at 8.30am today. She hopes her message will encourage women to let go of any shame or guilt they might have about domestic violence.
“It's important for me to share this message with every community because most people have an assumption that because you are a Christian, you either don't experience abuse or believe they have to stay in that relationship no matter how badly they are being hurt,” she said. “But God commands husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. I tell women if it hurts and doesn't sit right with your spirit you don't have to stay or tolerate that. God doesn't want you to compromise your safety or wellbeing.”