Kevinna Melbourne - Praising God in trying circumstances
At 15 years old, Morant Bay High School student Kevinna Melbourne has already faced a series of life-altering experiences that would have led many to lose hope. But the teenager says that she has been blessed beyond belief.
At age 7, Melbourne's mother died, leaving her and her three younger siblings in the care of her grandmother. But she says that it was shortly afterwards that her interest in a higher power was triggered.
"I always heard the church from a distance, and I was always excited to go. So every Saturday, I would go with my siblings until I got baptised when I was 11. It was also at that time that the second and fourth child went to live with their father, leaving just me and my little sister," she said.
Melbourne recalled that things got worse after her decision to become a Christian, saying that the devil had begun to pester her family of seven at the time. She said that it became even more difficult to keep on track with her spiritual life as only she and her sister attended church services.
"We were discouraged against going to church. The physical and verbal abuse began, too, and my only joy then was going to church."
She said that life with her relatives was very trying as it was often made clear that they had become a burden.
"Sometimes my grandmother would take out her frustration on us. Her children even accused us of stealing, but I was always hopeful because someone had told me God was going to deliver. I was encouraged at church and was surrounded by people who cared for me. I got to love the Lord, and I learnt that God has a plan in store for my life no matter what the circumstances" she told Family & Religion.
By age 13, Melbourne said that she was forced to leave her grandmother's home but was relieved when her sister was able to unite with her own father. She, however, was not as fortunate and was placed into foster care instead.
"The system was not easy, moving from home to home. It was hard to settle, but God and my church brethren stood by me throughout," she related.
Melbourne said that she was also mocked by her peers when the news about her situation got around , but she did not allow that to break her down.
But her hope for a brighter tomorrow was further heightened when she overheard a speech given by State Minister, Floyd Green.
"He said, 'Don't let what you have been through define where you are going. Live your life. Don't let your past affect your future.' Many youths are not being loved and encouraged so they seek it from the wrong people and in the wrong forms. That's why we hear so much about teenage pregnancy and juvenile delinquency because they think sex, drugs, and gangs are the answer to their problems. We need more people to help guide our youth. Without encouragement, I couldn't have even shared this with you today," she shared passionately.
"But I'm thanking God that I stayed with Him and that I have lovely church brethren. And I thank Him for blessing me with the talent of singing for His people."
Melbourne says that she is currently at her third and final foster home and is happy that she can also offer encouragement to others since she has seen how God's awesome love has helped to turn her life around.