Married to an abusive, violent and aggressive man, Andrea Carrasco felt like her life was a total failure as she was frequently beaten up in front of their daughters.
"My husband was a gambler and we constantly had discussions over the lack of money," Andrea begins. "I believed that God did not exist because of the very painful, frustrating life I was living."
Finally, in 2010, Andrea put an end to the physical abuse when she left her husband, but the verbal and psychological abuse continued for two more years.
"He was verbally aggressive, yelling death threats at my work, on the street or any time my boyfriend and I would come home to see my daughters," Andrea says.
"The last time he was physically violent was in September of 2012 when he hit me in front of my daughters, at the doorstep of my house."
Two years earlier, Andrea had befriended a kind man named Nestor, who also was struck by her former husband on this occasion. Andrea and Nestor decided to obtain a restraining order, so her former husband couldn't approach Andrea or her daughters. She also won sole custody of her daughters.
"What attracted me to Nestor was his respectful way of treating me, his affection without expecting anything in return. There was something about him that was different."
On the Christmas of 2011, Nestor and Andrea visited friends who invited them to a Sunday church service. At first they went out of curiosity, but continued attending due to friendships they had gained.
In the days following that first visit to church, Andrea says that a Bible verse from Revelations chapter 3, verse 20, "followed me everywhere".
It was Jesus' words: "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me."
The meaning baffled her, but as she leafed through a book entitled On the Rock from the church's library she found an explanation to its meaning.
"In April 2012, while reading this book, I believed Jesus' promise that He would make me a new creature if I simply asked Him to do so. I confessed that my sins separated me from God and they were the reason I deserved to spend eternity from Him, but also believed that He died on the cross for my sins and rose again to give me eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and healing in my heart."
She wept many tears, but Andrea knew it was much more than an emotional commitment as Jesus began inwardly changing her character.
"Jesus Christ has tempered the way I speak and my attitude, to take everything more calmly," she explains.
Now married to Nestor, who is also a Christian, Andrea is grateful for her new life, saying, "I am trusting in God, who can do all things. I desire to be a good wife every day, a great mother, and give witness with every one of my actions."
In 2012, Andrea's life changed again when she received a scholarship-funded trip to a Latin American summit on gender violence.
"I discovered I was not the only one. I found women and organisations from all across the Americas who help women in these situations," she happily remembers.
On her return to her home in Argentina, Andrea launched a Facebook page "Basta de Violencia Doméstica" (Stop the Domestic Violence) and, since obtaining qualifications in violence treatment and prevention, she now manages the only non-profit organisation in Córdoba providing legal, psychological and family counsel free of charge.
"We want to have a house of refuge to assist ladies back on their feet and spend time with their children without fear," Andrea says.
"We are bringing in professionals that give workshops and teach trades in order to move on in life.
"We also let them know that only God is the restorer of life, the one that can heal heart's wounds, and makes us new creatures."
Despite all she went through, Andrea is thankful that her experiences can be used to help others."I went through all these situations in my life, but today I can say 'thank you' because my Heavenly Father has prepared me for this purpose."
Commenting on her marriage to Nestor she says "he supports me unconditionally."
"The Lord Jesus Christ has healed my wounds and the wounds of my daughters. We have a new life and all the past is left behind – the past is only used as experience in counselling."•