One faithful man changed Leonie’s mind about love
Until she met Brian, Leonie Edge thought that men cannot love in the same way as women, but now she has a happy 22-year marriage. The secret, she says, is his daily expressions of unconditional love.
After sleeping with nearly 100 men, Leonie firmly concluded, "Men do not care, they do not have affection, they only want to get into bed."
Now, she says of their marriage based on the love of Jesus Christ, "Brian has taught me that love wins over lust every time and that men do have loving feelings. He is wonderful!"
As a child growing up in Coober Pedy, Leonie had seen her mother leave her natural father after four years of "the silent treatment".
Her next father-figure was a violent man who gambled away nearly a million dollars of her mother's jewellery shop income, was a pimp for a prostitute, and made her mother sterile due to venereal disease.
With this history, Leonie dismissed the idea of a loving heavenly Father. She wondered, "Why would God allow all this?"
Her impression of God was formed in the stiff church of her step-father's relatives, where she remembers the services were "boring and all in Greek".
The religions she knew were disconnected from her inward needs so Leonie invented her own.
She thought to herself, "I prefer the 'romance' of being a white witch – after all I didn't worship Satan, did I?" At the time, she had no idea of what she was getting involved in.
One of her needs was male affection. At many weekend discos, she remembers, "I bedded any bloke I wanted, trying desperately to get the love I needed but, of course, it was only sex."
Leonie turned to a dating agency to meet men, had another failed relationship and a two-year marriage to an Air Force man, before she met her current husband, a friendly neighbour living below her new Melbourne flat.
Brian was a church-goer, but Leonie was hugely impressed when he gave up smoking at her request.
"He was prepared to sacrifice for me in a way my former husband had refused, so one Sunday I asked him to take me to his church."
After the sermon explaining God's forgiveness through Jesus, Leonie says, "There was an altar-ation by God. I knelt to ask Jesus into my life."
When another person in the service said "not yet", Leonie felt crushed and believed she was not good enough, but kept going to church.
Upon telling Brian about this, three months later, he said, "Don't you know the Devil loves church? He loves all the hypocrites there!"
"I left so released – Jesus Christ had accepted me and loved me for me!" Leonie explains.
Guided by other Christians, Brian and Leonie married in Warrnambool, and have a teenage daughter.
Leonie says their trust in God was tested in 2006 when Brian, a self-defence instructor, was thrown off his motorbike at 90 kilometres per hour by a four wheel drive. The police did not expect him to survive, nor did the local bike wreckers when they saw the wrecked bike.
An acquired brain injury and 13 operations did not stop Brian from defying expectations that he would walk again.
"God, as He always does, prevailed, and so did our prayers," Leonie says.
"From the accident payout, we bought a small farm in Cavenish, Victoria where we grow food to help others. We told God that if He ever gave us our own place, we would call it 'Rejoice' in His honour. It's more His property than ours."
By growing fresh produce for others, Leonie says, "We do what we can, where we can, with what we have. God continues to give and give." •