By the time she was 16 Chevonne Burr had already lost two fathers. Her biological father, whom she never saw again after her parents' divorce, when she was three, and her stepfather after he lost a three-year fight against brain cancer.
"I did not take his death well," she remembers. "He had adopted me as his own and watching him suffer in pain for years, slowly deteriorating, was emotionally challenging and hard to deal with."
It was also spiritually hard to process. Chevonne had been exposed to Christianity through her stepfather's family. She had learnt about God's love for her in Sunday School and youth group but his death brought her to a crossroad in her relationship with God, whom she blamed for her loss.
"The next year was filled with alcohol and parties in an effort to numb the pain," Chevonne shares sadly. "During that year I knew that the way I had chosen to deal with this tragedy was not the right way. I had to decide whether I wanted to follow Jesus or follow the [ways of the] world."
At 18 Chevonne went to a Christian Creative Arts College where she rededicated her life to serving God and trained in music and dance, and how to use them as an avenue to reach young people with the good news story about Jesus.
That year her mother remarried, bringing a whole new set of challenges for Chevonne.
"Adjusting to a blended family was hard and at times I felt confused by the situation. I often battled rejection, anger and low self-worth," she recalls.
Her unsettled situation was further compounded when the family moved to Perth from South Africa when Chevonne was 20, and she followed two years later.
"Due to the instability in father figures in my life I had become prone to rejection. After immigrating I became worried that I would have to start all over again with friends, work and studies."
Desperate for belonging and stability "the idea of marriage became a great focus for me", she admits. "I rushed into a relationship with a guy from church too quickly, although I had a sense that what I was doing was wrong. The relationship ended three months before we were to be married."
Chevonne began working in Christian ministry in Esperance, Western Australia.
"It was an invaluable time where God brought more healing to my life and freedom from the lies I was believing [about my lack of value and un-lovableness].
"I had the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with so many broken women and to witness God move in their lives. Sometimes I felt inadequate, insecure and doubtful but God was so faithful to help me."
While working at Teen Challenge, Chevonne met and married Nathaniel "the second greatest gift I have received – the first being Jesus".
Chevonne, who knows how it feels to be physically adopted, says she is now spiritually adopted by God, who is her heavenly Father, whom she trusts.
"I have learnt that even though, as Christians, we face trials and challenges, none of these are greater than God. At the end of the day, He wins and through Him, I overcome too!"
She concludes with Romans 6, verse 4: "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives."•