FIFO family overcomes depression that nearly tore them apart
Four years ago divorce seemed inevitable for Arthur and Belinda Vaka as they lived apart in the same house, unable to resolve their depression and his alcoholism.
"Both of us were so lost and damaged," Arthur says.
"We took our frustrations out on each other, not realising the damage it was doing to our kids."
Their marriage first began unravelling when eight years on a WA northwest mine and weeks of separation undid Arthur's resolve against the liquid drug that had torn apart his childhood family.
"I was fighting with depression and thought money was the problem solver for all things," he explains.
Eight years of alcoholism followed until Belinda's father's advice led to a seemingly impossible transformation: childhood hurts healed, an end to all alcohol and a restored marriage.
Arthur's parents had split when he was 13 due to alcohol and violence, and Belinda also came from a childhood of violence and abuse.
As he grew older Arthur kept in touch with his dad and rescued him from suicide three times. Those experiences contributed to Arthur's suicide attempt during their marriage struggles. "Thank God I was found by my brother," he says.
In the final stages of their divorce, Belinda called her father for advice.
Since he had become a Christian later in life, he asked, "Have you prayed or been to church?"
She said no and hung up, but later that night Belinda realised that if God had rescued her father, He could rescue her too.
With a big cry in her heart, she prayed, "Lord, if you are real, I need to know, please reveal yourself."
As He did, Belinda desperately pleaded, "Please help me, my life is such a mess."
"I felt His love and grace beyond anything ever experienced," she remembers, "as though He embraced me in His arms. He broke through the darkness that surrounded me and revealed Himself.
"That experience changed my life forever. I surrendered completely and decided to follow Jesus for the rest of my life."
Belinda and the children began attending church and "she constantly prayed for me", says Arthur.
For three months he refused to go to church, usually due to a hangover, but the dramatic changes in his wife changed his mind.
"God answered her prayer," he says with a smile. "I began a relationship with Jesus and, as I got closer to Him, Jesus slowly chipped off those rough edges."
Now their marriage and family is happier than it has ever been. "Jesus is what holds us together," Arthur reports.
"We are free from alcoholism and the two sons and a daughter who are still at home are all mended. Our family is together because of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As a family we hope and pray that our oldest son will one day open his heart for the Lord Jesus to find him."
The family now loves to contribute to the music, sound production and children's ministries at their local church.
Arthur says he clearly understands what went wrong with his family.
"There is evil in this world and God has given a free will to all humanity. It is sin that breaks up families, but God was there to comfort us through it all after we turned to Him."
His favourite Bible passage is Jeremiah chapter 29:11, "For I know the thoughts I have towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a hope and a future."
Arthur hopes his story gives hope to people in similar troubles, as he concludes, "Through Jesus all things can be mended for eternity."•