Testimony of Faith

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This testimony has been provided by Hon Marie Ficarra MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of New South Wales. It was written during Advent 2011.

At this time of year we bring out our Nativity Scene, a tradition started by St Francis, patron saint of my parents' homeland Italy. The expressions of the ox, ass and sheep seem to portray in a special way the love of this wonderful saint. All the figures were hand carved from olives of ancient Palestinian lineage by poor Christians who are doing it hard, like so many religious people in the region where Our Saviour lived his earthly life. We reflected on their suffering last Sunday at an ecumenical prayer service commemorating the martyrdom of Egyptian Coptic Christians. Jesus was also in grave danger as a child and the Holy Family fled into exile for over 3 years in Egypt.

My name is Roby Curtis. I live in sunny Brisbane. I am 28 years old. I am a proud husband and father of four. I made a personal choice to follow Jesus 9 years ago and devote my life the work of the Church. There are 3 things in life that I am passionate about apart from my faith; my family, music and the poor of our nation.

Strange things have been known to happen on a Sunday afternoon. I never expected that a simple action of standing up in front of a classroom full of other teenagers on that late-autumn day would have made such a difference in my life. But that day it did; that day I answered an invitation from the parish priest that if we were prepared to live for Jesus Christ, then we needed to do something about it; we needed to make that commitment public. After waiting for some time to build up the courage to do something, I stood up in front of my school friends and others who only days before I had barely known – and declared that I wanted to follow Jesus. Fr Gerard had insisted that we didn’t just say something vague, but that we made our commitment to the Lord as concrete as possible; so I said that I would follow Jesus through daily prayer, reading scripture and through attending Mass during the week as well as Sunday.

I was born and grew up in Beirut. In 1975, when I was 13, the civil war broke out in Lebanon. Our shelter was the small living room in our flat where many of our neighbors and relatives gathered to feel safe and protected. Young high school and university students left their school to join the Christian Militia to fight Muslims. It was a nasty war; I won’t go into details because I hate politics.

After experiencing significant health issues from 12 years of age onwards I strayed from my childhood Catholic faith; I could not conceive of a God who could allow my suffering and yet still love unconditionally.

Although I was raised a Catholic and attended Mass regularly as a child, I had no understanding Jesus being the Saviour. I did not understand what Jesus was doing on the Cross and I could not have explained what was meant by 'the Gospel'. But in 2005 at the age of 32 whilst working in an Islamic school in Indonesia I met Jesus. I was born again and I started to see the Kingdom as Jesus spoke about in John 3:3.

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