Author: Martin Elvidge
“Welcome home’ He said. Jesus was standing in the Singing Waters Ministry centre auditorium in Ontario, Canada. I had been searching for a home for a long time. Probably for my lifetime. Could this be it? Since my birth in 1947, I have moved house thirty-two times. Thirty-two houses but no home.
When I was four years old, I came with my parents from England to Sydney, Australia, and lived in three different houses over two years. We moved back to England when I was six and lived in grandma’s house, then back to Perth, Western Australia, when I was eight and lived in three different houses, seven in all. By the age of eighteen, I had already moved houses seven times. I had attended seven different schools and wasted a year at University. Someone said that home is where the heart is. A house is not a home. Maybe that’s why I just kept on looking for one.
Home was a distant memory
The home I was seeking was a distant memory. I could see myself as little, maybe three years old. I was sitting on a stone wall next to a little girl. Christine Trotter. Her name is burned indelibly in my brain. How come I could remember that picture and her name fifty years later? We kicked our heels against the wall as we sat together, talking about Noddy and Big Ears in Toytown. Noddy lived with Big Ears, the brownie, in a house made from a toadstool. They were happy together. Maybe Christine and I could live together in a little house in Toyland, safe and secure and happy. I was not happy in my house. Another couple lived there with Mum and Dad. They were always busy. I was not allowed to make a noise because they were doing something called “studying.” Sometimes I would be shut in my room, especially if I was angry or upset and crying. I was just left alone, feeling lonely, rejected, and unwanted.
One day there was a lot of activity in the house. Mum and Dad were packing trunks and suitcases. A big truck came, and all these things were loaded up. Mum, Dad, and I got into another car and followed the truck away from the house. I could see Christine standing on the wall, looking. I didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t know that we would not return. I didn’t know where we were going or why. Mum and Dad were very excited, talking and laughing. I was just confused. We stopped next to a big ship and walked up the stairs to get on it. I stopped halfway up, and Dad took my photo. We went down inside the ship to a little room. Another man was already there. Mum went into another little room and stayed with another lady and her little girl.
After a long time, the ship stopped in Sydney, Australia, and we all got off. I was not well. I caught chicken pox, so I had to stay in a hospital room away from everybody, away from Mum and Dad, in a strange place full of strange people. I saw Mum and Dad through the big window in the hospital room. They were walking away down the corridor and waving. They didn’t come back. I waited day after day, expecting their return, but still, they didn’t come back. Why had they abandoned me? Was I not good enough? Was there something wrong with me? Had they exchanged me for another little boy? Maybe they had died, and I would never see them again. How would I look after myself? I was only little. I was homeless in Sydney, Australia.
These traumatic events were buried and forgotten for over fifty years, but the experience of abandonment, rejection, insecurity, and unworthiness remained with me, contaminating my beliefs and behaviours. I was driven to seek stability, security, and acceptance outside my family, always searching for a home. My family home was not secure. My parents were not trustworthy. I had to make a home for myself. I had to find someone with whom I could feel safe and secure.
Carpet time in Toronto 1996
This lifelong search for a home led me to Toronto in 1996. I was now an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Australia, having lived in six different houses since my ordination in 1980. I heard that miracles were happening at a church in Toronto. A fellow Anglican Minister returned from Toronto completely healed from his early childhood trauma. He invited us to a meeting where Guy Chevraux spoke about the Toronto Airport Church revival. He said: “Come to Toronto for at least ten days.” I heard God’s voice in the background saying: “Come to Toronto for ten days,” so we went. It was the first of many visits.
During a conference at which Ruth Fazal was playing her violin, those living with abandonment, rejection, insecurity, and unworthiness were invited to come to the front and soak in the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. I was such a one, so I went to the front and lay on the carpet, hoping to receive healing. Ruth Fazal was walking amongst us and playing her violin spontaneously. As she stood alongside me, playing her violin, a video began to screen in my head. I began to re-live the traumatic episodes I had suppressed for over fifty years. The pain in my chest was so intense that I could hardly breathe. It seemed that my ribcage was being opened from my throat to my navel. I could hear a terrible wailing sound like that of a wounded animal. It was coming from me.
Jesus heals my heart
I saw Christine Trotter being left behind. I saw my four-year-old self in that quarantine hospital room, curled up in a fetal position, waiting to die. But wait. someone was coming into the room, to my bedside. A man wearing an off-white robe. A bearded man with shoulder-length hair. He sat on the bed and placed his hand on my shoulder. Warmth flooded my body, and peace filled my mind. I wasn’t going to die after all. He said: “It’s ok now. I’m here. Let’s go”. He took my hand, and we walked out of the hospital room together. We walked outside to the children’s playground, and I sat on a swing. He pushed me. Back and forth. All the stress and tension and fear and anxiety and pain drained from my body. I was safe.
When we went back to Australia, I visited my parents. I asked them if anything was wrong with me when we arrived in Sydney. “Oh yes,” they said and told me the story. “You caught chicken pox on the boat and had to be quarantined for ten days. It was great for us. We took the opportunity to explore Sydney, look for a house to rent, visit Dad’s workplace, and look for a job for Mum. We knew that you would be safe and secure in the hospital for ten days, so we were not in a hurry to return. Why? Is there a problem?” What could I say? I quietly forgave them and left.
Box of Photos
My sister found a box of photos and several photo albums when Mum and Dad died. They contained photos spanning three generations, most of which I had never seen. I remember Dad as an avid photographer developing his own film and printing and enlarging photos in a converted kitchen pantry. My sister took them all and scanned them into computer files so that I could access them. I was astounded at what I saw. The photos documented my Dad’s life journey from birth and my Mum’s life journey too. I saw pictures of my ancestors and extended family for the first time. The greatest impact came from photos covering my life from birth in 1947 to my ordination in 1980, and beyond that, that I found in the box.
There were pictures of Christine Trotter at three years old, standing together in front of the house from which we emigrated to Australia. A picture of me standing on the gangplank of the MV Cheshire on which we sailed to Australia. Another photo of me standing outside the migrant hospital in Bradfield Park, Sydney, having just been released from quarantine. A photo showed Mum and Dad standing together and me standing three metres behind them. I had disconnected from them relationally because of the separation trauma I had suffered and was never able to reconnect. I have since learned from John Bowlby’s book “Attachment & Loss” that separation from mother before age six creates extremely painful attachment trauma in the brain, causing anguish, protest, despair, and detachment. (Bowlby, E J M. Attachment: Attachment Vol 1 (Attachment & Loss) (p. 7). Random House. Kindle Edition.)
You, too, can experience God’s healing
My experience on the carpet at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship is by no means unique. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He intends to bring us home to live in his Father’s house and securely attach us to Him with his Holy Spirit in a relationship that lasts forever. “No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God‘s splendour. But if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us”. (1Jn 4)
If you’re feeling homeless, abandoned, rejected, insecure, and unworthy, you have likely suffered early childhood trauma. Jesus will want to visit you and bring you home to the Father’s House. He says: “In My Father’s house, there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also”. (John 14:2-3)
Let him bring you home. You’ll never regret it.
About the Author
Martin Elvidge encountered Jesus in 1976 while Assistant Director of a Government Department in Western Australia. He was ordained to the Anglican priesthood four years later. He pastored three different congregations until 1993, when he and his wife Sheila founded an independent charismatic Evangelical church, “The Well of Blessing.” In 1996 Martin and Sheila were profoundly impacted by the Toronto Outpouring and developed connections with Catch The Fire Ministries in Canada and Australia. They are now resident Pastors at Singing Waters Ministry centre in Ontario.
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