For Maeve and her three daughters – Chloe, Zoe and Chantel – traditional family characteristics and values did not apply. The absence of love created heart-breaking lives that were radically changed by the power of Christ over the course of five years.
“We lived in a very troubled household,” Chole said. “Our parents were alcoholics and there was a lot of fighting and violence. We girls yearned for love because [our parents] didn’t know how to express it.”
“OM’s Big Red Bus would come to our neighbourhood. That’s where we first heard that Jesus loved us,” Chloe remembered. “For us, who’d never experienced real love, it was like ‘Wow! We’re loved by this man who died for us.’ I didn’t know who Jesus was, but I knew He loved me.”
A Christian neighbour prayed for the girls’ family and spoke to them about God’s love in greater detail, especially to Chloe; taking her to church in Athlone.
“I was attending Bible studies, Sunday school and the services. One day, when I was about seven years old, it just clicked for me. I understood,” said Chloe.
Chloe didn’t tell her mother that she’d dedicated her life to Christ, which made Chloe’s sudden interest and concern for Maeve’s future quite difficult to understand.
“She comes up to me one day with a Bible in her hands,” Maeve said. “She says, ‘Where are you going when you die, Mammy? You’re going to the bad place, and I don’t want you to go there.’”
Following her mother around the house with a Bible, Chloe continued to share the hope and love of Christ. “I wanted this for her because I saw how much pain she was in. I had this hope; she just didn’t get it.”
The neighbour continued to share the gospel, while also praying with and encouraging Chloe. “She was taking the two older girls to church, and I thought it was unfair that my youngest was being left out,” Maeve said. “She told me ‘You can bring her. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to stay.’” So mother and daughters started attending church all together.
For two years, Chloe prayed for her family. “I was getting discouraged, especially because the woman I loved most didn’t have the hope that I had.”
When Maeve asked the Lord into her life, Chloe knew her consistent prayers had been answered. They were baptized together in 2013.
Chloe’s younger sisters Zoe and Chantel attended the kids’ clubs and Bible camps for several years, but the gospel seemed to have no effect; they heard without understanding. Two years after Maeve’s change of heart, Zoe was touched by a testimony where God revealed Himself and decided she didn’t want to be the person she was becoming. “A friend said that I might become an alcoholic like my mum,” she remembered. “It broke my heart to hear her essentially saying that God hadn’t done anything in my life.” So she made a decision to follow Jesus.
A year later, Chantel also chose to follow Christ during a weekend church retreat at OM’s Lacken House. She trusted in Christ when she heard that Jesus is the light of the world and was asked where she wanted to be in five years.
“In the beginning,” Chloe said, “we weren’t looking to God as a family. We were spiritually walking as individuals because we didn’t know how to come together.”
Now they are learning to support one another through the struggles and are being encouraged to tell their story. During a recent Impact Ireland outreach in Athlone, Maeve was asked to share her testimony, not knowing that a neighbour was live-streaming online.
“Many people from our neighbourhood watched,” Maeve said afterwards. “People who’d seen me staggering across the street drunk with my three little girls in tow now saw a radical difference. They wanted to know what had happened to change me.”
The miraculous change in the family occurred through the love and power of Jesus Christ. The family who previously had not known 'real love' is now sharing God’s light and love in their neighbourhood.