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Sep18ThuCathy Harris was helped by God when she needed it most. Now, she brings her good news to people in need around the world. September 18, 2014 by Diane Stark
“You will never be able to bear children,” the doctors told 23-year-old Cathy Harris and her husband, Paul. Married just three years, the couple was devastated to learn that Cathy suffered from severe endometriosis, a condition that causes the formation of cysts in the pelvic area. Since her teens, Cathy had struggled with depression and was suicidal. Now, she sank into an even deeper depression, used alcohol and experimented with marijuana to cope with her pain.
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But then she discovered that with God, there is always hope.
A Life of Hurt
Cathy was raised in Bonavista, N.L., where her childhood home was filled with uncertainty and alcohol abuse. “I don't remember the first eight or nine years of my life,” she says. “I lived in a fog because there was so much hurt in my life.”
When Cathy was 10, her parents divorced, and she remembers wondering where God was and why He didn't care about her. “When I was in Grade 5, someone gave me a Bible,” she says. “I read it, but I didn't understand it. I wanted to know more about God, but there was no one around to tell me.”
As a teenager, Cathy began drinking and experimenting with marijuana. She met her husband, Paul, when she was 15 and the couple married when Cathy was 20. After she learned of her infertility problems, her drinking increased. “I was a real party animal,” Cathy says. “I knew the increased odds of becoming an alcoholic, but I felt powerless to break the pattern.”
“What Are you Doing Here?”
When Cathy was 28, her sister began attending the Salvation Army church in Bonavista and invited her to go. Cathy declined, but she was intrigued by the changes she saw in her sister. “We were in a club one night, and my sister was having the best time ever and hadn't had a single drink,” Cathy says. “Having fun without alcohol was a new concept for me.”
A few nights later, Cathy was in the club again. She went to the bar to buy a drink, but she heard a voice say, “What are doing here? You'd be better off at home.” She turned around, but no one was there. Moments later, she heard the same voice say the same words, but again, no one was there. “I didn't know what was happening, but I went home,” Cathy says.
The next Sunday, she attended church with her sister. During the service, a young woman stood up and shared what God had done for her. “If you think you're happy, but you don't have God in your life, you aren't really happy,” she concluded.
The woman's words stopped Cathy short. “I wasn't happy,” she says, “but this young lady was saying that the only way to be happy was to invite God into your life.”
That night, Cathy went to the mercy seat, a simple wooden bench at the front of the church where people confess their sins and ask for God's forgiveness, and prayed with her sister-in-law's guidance. “As soon as I did, I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders,” she says. “It was amazing.”
Cathy's life had changed so completely, she wanted everyone to know about it. “I wanted to stand on the tallest building and tell the whole world what Jesus had done for me,” she smiles. “I'd lived 28 years without God in my life, and I didn't want anyone else to go through life without Him.”
Cathy proudly became an official member of The Salvation Army. She's worked for the Army as a youth pastor, community ministries co-ordinator, and was the co-ordinator for the emergency response vehicle and street ministry in Fort McMurray, Alta. Cathy joined the Army's relief efforts following the 9/11 attacks in New York City and has ministered to homeless people in Toronto.
“I love being part of The Salvation Army, and I love what we stand for,” Cathy states. “We offer hope and a helping hand, and we never pass judgment. I love it.”
In 2001, Cathy started Prodigal Ministries, which has helped people locally and all around the world. “God has given me so many opportunities to help hurting people,” she says, “and I thank Him for allowing me to show His love to others.”
Cathy has taken several mission trips to Cambodia, Thailand, Uganda and, most recently, Guatemala. Her teams have helped to build schools, care for children in orphanages and minister to needy people. “When we go on a trip, we pack 800 pounds of extra luggage filled with supplies, food, clothing, toiletries—you name it,” Cathy explains.
“We go to outlying areas and hand out whatever people need. Many of these people have never heard God's message, and we get to tell them. It's amazing.”
As if that's not enough, Cathy loves to sing and has released two country CDs, the proceeds of which fund more ministry efforts in Canada and around the world.
Cathy doesn't know where God will use her next, but she's open to His suggestion. “I stand in awe of God,” she says. “My life has done a complete turnaround. He gave me hope when I had none, and I just want to let others know that He will do the same thing for them.”
For more information on Prodigal Ministries, visit prodigalministries.ca.