A famous artist. A heady hippie lifestyle. That all came to an abrupt end when Barbara Holland got a divorce in her fifties. But she found a new beginning and an extraordinary adventure when she gave her heart away. This is her story.
The Early Years
Barbara was the descendant of pioneer migrants in Southwest Western Australia. “My great great great grandmother sat on the black sand and cried. It was hot and dry. It was just bush and nothing else,” Barbara shared.
Her father was a communist. “I was brought up as a strict atheist by my parents. I wasn’t allowed any religious instruction at school. But underneath I must’ve had a craving for God because I started drawing and painting religious icons,” Barbara shares.
In her teenage years, she had a best friend, Kevin. They were both still not Christians. But Kevin later had his own conversion experience and started sharing about Jesus to Barbara. She was not interested.
Eventually Barbara got married. She would frequently hold exhibitions in Perth. Together with her husband, they set up a hobby farm in Mundaring and lived a hippie lifestyle. Drugs were common. The three children they had were free to do what they liked. When her husband gradually became well known as a television personality, money came easy. Barbara had some fame with her art too, and would hold exhibitions in Perth. Life was happy but Barbara was always searching. “I was into every New Age belief. When a new one came out, I would check it out.”
34 years into the marriage, this all came to a heady stop.
A Painful Divorce. A Joyful Union.
“After 34 years of marriage I discovered my husband was thinking of leaving me for another woman. I was devastated. I felt like I had lost everything.
I had an acid stomach that wouldn’t go away. I had been into the New Age, but none of those spiritual could help me. In the end I took the advice of Kevin, a lifelong friend and went to church.
It was a new experience for me. The worship team were singing ‘Lord I give You my heart’. I could feel something break off my heart. I started weeping.
The next day the pastor of the church called me up on the phone and took me through the sinners prayer. From that moment on, my life changed.
I realised God was true, because I asked Jesus into my heart and He came in! There was a new presence living in me, that had never been there before!
I started praying for my marriage but it wasn’t to be. God had something far better for me.
I was reading Isaiah and discovered there is a personal Scripture that gives hope to every person in every situation: ‘For your Maker is your husband the Lord Almighty is his name. the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.”’
“It dawned on me that God was my Husband. I gave my whole heart to God.”
Barbara’s poem after she was saved:
His Sweet Plan
You made bitter water sweet One day in Marah. (Exodus 15:25)
You planned a loving Savior from the start. (John 1:1)
A crystal river flowing From a sacrificial lamb, (Revelation 22:1)
Makes bitter water sweet in every heart.
And like Elisha throwing salt,
To cleanse a spring of brackish water, (2 Kings 2:21)
You healed and cleansed my broken heart. (Isaiah 61:1)
You crowned my head, (2 Timothy 4:8)
And called me ‘daughter’. (2 Corinthians 6:18)
A Real God. A Genuine Relationship
When Barbara gave her whole heart to God, she began to experience miracles. God also answered her prayers.
One time Barbara needed to fix the fence of the house she moved into in Albany after her divorce. Barbara relates, “the fence blew down, I tried to fix it myself but I couldn’t. I got angry and called out to God, I can’t fix it! You fix it!”
“The next day I was coming out of the water after going for a swim at Middleton beach, when I heard a voice say, go and say how are you to that man over there. I looked over and saw a little old man sitting under the gazebo. I walked over towards him and as I got there he said, “You need anything fixed?” So I took him back to my house and he fixed my fence, cleaned out my gutters, and even pruned my mulberry tree in the backyard. He rode off on his bike refusing to take any money.”
Another time “God told me to get up and pray in tongues for one hour. About 40 minutes into praying in tongues God placed His armour on me. I could feel each piece being physically put on me, as electricity kept running up and down my body. When the helmet got put on my head, my head fell forward onto the bed with the weight of it. I could feel the shield being strapped onto my arm. I guess because God was training me in warfare prayer and I was a new Christian. I really needed the armour.
the biggest miracle she received was a heart burning for Jesus and wanting to share her love for Him.
God honoured her heart’s desires. Here are two stories where she shared the gospel.
A Divine Dental Appointment
“I was up in Perth and had lost a large filling from eating a lolly, so I drove down to the Morley Dental Clinic. You have to get there before eight if it’s an emergency. It’s first in first served. Anyway the doors opened and we all went in.
I struck up a conversation with a guy named Duncan who was sitting next to me while we waited. He opened up and told me his life story, that he used to work in the defence department in the army, but he’d had a nervous breakdown because of the stress. He ended up in hospital and had fallen in love with a nurse. She had moved in with him when he got out of hospital and they lived together. But she eventually left him and broke his heart. He told me he had never got over her and it was twenty years ago!
Then out of the blue he told me that a demon comes and sits on his chest at night. I know six people personally who have had the same experience, including a family member, so I said, “ok. Let’s go outside and I’ll pray for you.”
To my shock he said, “that’s okay, just do it here. I don’t mind.” So here I was in a waiting room full of people, with my hand on his shoulder, pleading the blood of Jesus over him and taking authority over the powers of darkness.
You can’t do warfare quietly. It’s impossible. I had my eyes shut so no one could see me, as it was a bit embarrassing.
Then my name was called up to go in. I was sitting in the chair when the dentist came in. He looked to be in a bad temper. He was holding up an X-ray and looking at it. I presumed it was mine so I said, “can you save my tooth?”
He stared at me and made his hands go in circular motions as he told me in a nasty tone, “am I clairvoyant?”
Then he sat down next to me and took up a large needle and squirted a bit out of it without even looking in my mouth. It was all a bit scary so I screamed in my mind, “Jeeesus! Help me!”
No sooner had I let out my inner cry when running footsteps sounded up the corridor and a voice called out, “doctor, doctor! Come quickly! It’s an emergency!” So he ran out of the room.
A few minutes later the nurse came back and stood with her arms folded staring at the ceiling like it was going to be a long wait. So I asked her, “can I go and have a cup of coffee and come back later?” She went off to ask and came back and said I could.
So I drove down to the Galleria Shopping Mall and went looking for a coffee, but there were so many choices it took me ages to make up my mind. I also bumped into an Israeli guy selling Dead Sea cosmetics. I couldn’t go past without trying to convert him. These meant I was taking much longer than I wanted to. It was all in God’s timing as I realised later.
When I finally got back to the clinic they sent me in to a lovely Rumanian woman dentist who put a new filling in my tooth without a needle and made it good as new, if not better. Plus it only cost me forty dollars.
As I went to the counter to pay my bill, there was Duncan, who I had prayed for, getting directions on how to get to the radiologist building. I said to him, “I’ll give you a lift there.”
The two secretaries who had seen and heard me praying for him, and had come to the conclusion that I was a crazy person told me quite strictly, “no. He can walk there. Besides,” they said, “there is no right turn if you go by car.”
Duncan and I walked out together and as soon as we got outside he said, “I will come with you.” So we drove off and discovered you could turn right, if you went behind a row of shops.
When we pulled up outside the door of the radiologist building, I said “Duncan, would you like to ask Jesus into your heart?” He said yes, so I took him through the sinners prayer. He admitted Jesus had died on the cross to pay for his sins. He admitted he was a sinner. He asked Jesus to forgive his sins and come into his heart.
Then he broke down and started sobbing uncontrollably. When he finally stopped sobbing he said, “twenty years of resentment have just fallen off me!”
I phoned him a few weeks later to see how he was getting on and he said he was really happy and he hadn’t stopped praying day and night since that day!
Only Jesus can change and heal a broken heart!”
A Heart Healed
“Many years ago I had an irregular heart rhythm. My GP here in Northcliffe sent me to Bunbury Hospital to have an ECG, and after doing it, they said that there was nothing wrong with my heart. As I was sitting in the Medicare waiting-room to get reimbursed for my payment an old 90 year-old Polish man sat next to me.
As he sat down he said, “it’s not fun getting old.”
I said, “well, God has to wean us off our bodies if we want to go to heaven.”
He said, “I don’t think I’m going there.”
I said “Don’t you believe in Jesus?”
He said, “I was brought up Catholic and I don’t believe in confessing my sins to a priest.”
I said, “Well, no, that won’t get you into heaven. You need to ask Jesus into your heart.”
Then my name was called out, so I went over to the desk and gave them my bank details so they could put the money in. After that was done, I came straight back to the old man, who said, “I knew you’d come back.”
I said “Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart?”
He said “Yes!”
So I took him through the salvation prayer with everyone in the waiting room having a good look. He admitted he was a sinner. He admitted Jesus had died for his sins and had risen from the dead. He asked Jesus to forgive him for his sins and to come into his heart. I explained to him that all the angels in heaven rejoice when even one soul comes to Jesus, and they were rejoicing right now!
Then we had a long talk and He told me his name was Stanley. He came out from Poland as a young man, he had married but recently his wife had died. He told me how how much he missed her. He said he’d had a happy life and In his younger days he was a truck driver and drove all over the Southwest of WA.
He was such a lovely man. I eventually said goodbye and drove back home, (2.5 hours) to my house.
Two months later I was doing my morning prayers and I thought to myself “I wonder how Stanley is getting on?” Then I thought to myself that I would never know as I didn’t even know his second name.
Suddenly I heard a voice, or had a thought come in my head that said, ‘Polish Community in Bunbury’.
I quickly jumped up, googled it and there it was, with a phone number next to it. I rang the number and a woman answered on the first ring.
I said “I’m looking for an old Polish man named Stanley.”
The woman said, “It’s his funeral today. I don’t know how well you knew him but he had been very sick for a long time. But for the past two months he has been at peace.”
I haven’t had any trouble with my heart since then. God must have given me the irregular heart rhythm so I would be sitting next to Stanley in the Medicare waiting room that day.
God loved him so much that he didn’t want him to go into eternity without Him.”
Reflect + Respond
- How does knowing that God is your Husband draw you into greater intimacy with Him?
- How are you inspired to share the gospel with others as you go about your daily life?
- How may use your gifts to share about Jesus and His story in and through you? Have you shared your story with us? If not, click here to find out how.
- Have you personally said the sinner’s prayer and received Jesus into your heart? If not, click here for the prayer.
To glorify God, Barbara has compiled some of the miracles and divine encounters she has experienced into a book titled Lord, I Give You My Heart.
All paintings are drawn and provided by Barbara.