I’m sitting in my room in the North West of Sydney on this warm spring night and I have finally gotten a chance to write. I’ve been wanting to write for so long but haven’t quite known where to begin. When we arrived in Sydney three years ago, I took some time out to go up to the Central Coast for a conference with a church called HopeUC and I was full of questions and full of heartache- still in a cycle of grief that I thought I had processed through already. Yet another wave hit me and I was confronted with the fact that this new season I was in, was going to take some unravelling and some restoring. That conference began the journey of answers. Answers started to fill the gaps that my questions had left, and to this day, I still see answers being written while new questions are being formed.
This week we celebrated my twin daughters’ graduation and my eldest son, Jamal surprised us all by flying over to join in for the celebrations. In the middle of his visit (which was full of questions and reverberating answers) we went to visit an Ethiopian friend I have made here from Hillsong Church (a church that has brought us layers of healing and restoration). But while we were eating her delicious food, one of the men from the Ethiopian congregation I preached at during our visit in 2015, arrived with his sister to also enjoy some lunch. In the middle of our conversation he asked me “how’s your husband?”
I haven’t been asked that in a long time. It’s been over a year now since we have officially been divorced but it also made me think about the many who may be still be wondering how its all gone. Well, I smiled at him and politely filled him in on the fact that I was now divorced and had come here to live with my mum and be restored. And restored we have been- so much so that he complimented me at the end and told me how strong I was and how I haven’t changed- my zeal for God and His mission is just the same, if not, stronger.
Over the last three years, my children and I have been on a journey of restoration and reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is bringing again into unity, harmony, or agreement what has been alienated.”J. Hastings, ed., art. “Reconciliation,” A Dictionary of the Bible (1902), IV, 204-207
“Restoration is the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.” Oxford Dictionary
When I think of the holistic work that God has done in our lives over the last three years, these two words sum them up. My dignity, destiny and designed purpose has been restored and my relationship with my children is being reconciled while so are many others. I love my children and am so proud of how far they have come. We have done the hard work that restoration requires and it hasn’t been easy. There has been a lot of shaking off of old mindsets and creating new boundaries and belief systems but in the process we have grown together.
Three years is significant in that, Jesus spent three years doing ministry with his disciples before He died and sent them out; three years is how long it takes to achieve a degree in most university settings and three years are the most important formative years in a child’s life. In these three examples we see that three years sets the platform for the rest of a ministry, vocation and life. While the girls graduated from High School and are about to set out into the big wide world of opportunities that lay ahead, I also feel like we as a family have graduated from our school of Sydney, being self-sustainable and the battle for restoration. Selah.
So, what’s next?
I’m glad you asked.
When I departed Ethiopia, we left a lot behind, but what I did carry in my heart was a vision. It was a vision I thought I would outwork in Ethiopia, but over the last three years, as the vision has been added to and refined, I have finally accepted the fact that this is a global vision and Sydney will be the base for where it launches.
In Sydney, while I have been on this journey of recovery from a life that was often dictated by addiction and abuse, I have come across many great organisations working at grass-roots levels to meet the changing needs of the community. Anxiety and depression are huge here in Sydney and so are isolation and disconnectedness. This year, I started to write more about what this vision was and from that, my second book is being formed. The book is called “Beauty for Ashes: a holistic model for restoration and community development.”
This model is the vision and I am about to launch it this coming “Giving Tuesday” on the 2nd of December. I have started a sole trader business which is really a social enterprise that is all about “Connecting communities to a cause.” The greater vision is to “see a movement of People championing a cause that is greater than themselves and working together to support them through a holistic model of development.”
This holistic model is based on Isaiah 61. I’m super passionate about this model because God has spoken to me through my own journey of restoration, that He cares about every aspect of our lives: spiritually, financially, socially, vocationally, physically, psychologically and He wants us to enter into His rest. In working with communities to support them financially, or offer vocational training for them, if we neglect to support them holistically, especially when those communities have been affected by unresolved trauma, then we are setting them up to fail.
This is my story of Beauty for Ashes. The ashes that we left behind in Ethiopia as my marriage disintegrated, our lives seem to come under fire and the enemy set out to destroy us, God brought something beautiful out of it. He brought me to a place of understanding a life lived by one who has experienced trauma, betrayal, abuse, rejection and abandonment so that I could relate to others. And it all sounds sad, but Jesus also went through everyone of those feelings. “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) He was only allowed the grace of being “acquainted with grief” because He lived through it Himself.
The doors and hearts, my shared experience has opened, has far outweighed the pain those experiences brought. I now serve with the women in the 180TC program at Hillsong Church, as a host and as a bible study and cooking teacher. These girls have heard parts of my story and they feel safe to open up to me. I know what they are thinking because I have thought the same things but have come through it. I’ve been blessed to have amazing counsellors who have understood my journey and helped me to navigate my way through it. I was blessed to have my mum here to help connect us in for the first two years and financially back us up in that season where our healing and restoration were critical parts of our reintegration back into western society. I have been blessed to be a blessing and I have no regrets about the path that I have been able to journey through.
B4A Collective (a subsidiary of my consultancy business) is being birthed out of that blessed place. I want to invite you to join me on this journey of helping others to do the same. All will be revealed over the next couple of months as to what exactly this is all about. To keep updated, subscribe by clicking on this form, filling it out and submitting it so I can send you my newsletter.
All I can say is that the best is definitely yet to come. I have bright hopes for our future and am excited about what God is going to do!
If you want to purchase my ebook online, you can do so Here
Please feel free to email me back with any questions or comments.
Blessings and love from Sydney, Michelle Zombos- mother to five of the most amazing human beings on the planet.