Today, Tischa speaks to us about trauma that she suffered that affected how she saw Jesus in her early years (thank you for your vulnerability, Tischa). She speaks to us about removing idols and her beautiful transformation.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Trinidad is a very multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. No matter what we believe in, we celebrate all faiths, Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Buddhist, New Age, and Christians of all denominations. As a result, we have become very pluralistic, where many believe that there are many roads to one God. I was raised Catholic in a large and loving family. However, I was molested several times by an older cousin at my grandparents’ house while my parents were away on a trip. In Catholic church, I saw Jesus looking down on me from the cross, and I felt guilty for the sin that I was a part of (albeit unwillingly). I had a lot of guilt and self-esteem issues and avoided Jesus where I could. As a teenager, I had a lot of fun, but struggled to feel good about myself. At 18, I was raped. I truly felt like a lost cause at this point.
My life into adulthood was a series of some happy times and many really hard and trying times. I became rebellious and made a lot of mistakes, including binge drinking, promiscuity, and an act that made me homeless in my last semester of college in Miami. It wasn’t until much later that I encountered Jesus in a meaningful way.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: The Parable of the Talents – Matthew 25:14-30. I do not want to bury what God has given me, but I want to bring an increase for His Kingdom.
“I do not want to bury what God has given me, but I want to bring an increase for His Kingdom.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Fully removing the distractions and the things that are not of God in my life. I have been called by God Almighty to serve His Kingdom. Just like the Israelites were required to remove their altars to Baal and to cut down their Asherah poles, I am in the process of examining my heart and life to remove anything that is not a God-honoring use of my time.
Profession/Mission: Wife, mother, writer, speaker, teacher. Mission: Helping women fall in love with God’s Word and find transformation in Christ.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Lost and Found
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I was raised always knowing about God, but I had a very distorted view of the Gospel. When I heard that Jesus died for our sins, I interpreted that to mean that He died because of our sins, that we put Him to death. I didn’t understand that Jesus chose to die to free us from our sins. I was molested as a little girl, and so I felt responsible for Jesus being on the cross. In church He would look down on me like, “You did this to Me!” So, I spent my life avoiding Jesus at all costs. When things got difficult for me, I would pray to God, but never Jesus. After I was raped at age 18, I felt like a lost cause. I very rarely prayed, and I lived a party life of sin and hopelessness.
My partying lifestyle settled down after I got married to Harald, moved to Holland, and gave birth to our two boys. In 2009, we moved to Texas, and the following year, my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. Harald flew to Holland to be with him, and I would call there every day. One day, after hearing how much he was suffering, I found myself bawling and praying, face down on the carpet, begging God for mercy. For some reason, I reached for the remote and turned the TV on. There was a pastor on TV, he had just finished his sermon, and he was saying, “If you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, ask Him now.” And so, I did. I instantly felt something leap in my body and my first thought was, “Jesus really is alive!” I had tried believing in so many other things, including New Age and Buddhism, but none of those things really did anything for me. It was amazing! The woman I was when I stood up from the carpet was completely different from the woman who went down.
How would you describe Jesus? Jesus is my Everything! He is the only One in the universe who could save my life, transform me into someone of worth, and use my mistakes to help others.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? How has it NOT changed me? I was angry, bitter, foolish, and self-destructive. I used to be the girl you called when you wanted to get drunk and if you needed an alibi to cheat on your man. Now I am filled with joy, peace, and God’s Word. I’m the one you call when you need prayer or a Biblical perspective in a situation.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? I have had a lot of dark times in my life, most of them happened before I knew Jesus and the Bible. Being molested, being raped, being homeless, being in an abusive first marriage. I see how God was protecting me through all of it, preserving my life for when I would come to Him. He has redeemed all of it. Doing ministry with women, I am actually blessed to have the insight into what so many troubled women have gone through, and I am able to speak His Word into their lives.
“He has redeemed all of it.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Two things have helped me grow spiritually this season. The first is trials. I recently had to have spinal surgery after spending a month bedridden in extreme pain. Three days after my surgery, our son was diagnosed with a series of serious mental illnesses. Seeking God in desperation always helps me to grow. It also puts me in listening mode and that’s the second thing. God has been calling me to serve Him in various ways and many new ministry opportunities have come up in recent months. Walking in obedience keeps me very close to Him and in tune with the Holy Spirit.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): The Gospels. Leaning into Jesus’ words, life, and teachings always give me something to chew on. Plus, every single time, I discover something I never knew before!
Top three essentials: My Bible, a pen, and a notebook. I literally take those things with me everywhere I go. While I’m waiting for my kids somewhere, I’m studying, praying, and writing. And I like a book Bible as opposed to an app. It’s so satisfying to turn actual pages and jot things down in the margins.
How did God speak to you recently? Whenever I write, God speaks. The Holy Spirit takes over and dictates, and I see myself as more of a scribe. I may know the general theme of what I’m writing about but sometimes it goes in directions I don’t expect, and I’m led to passages in Scripture I would never have thought of on my own. Lately, I’ve had to do a lot of writing and I’m so blessed by the insight the God has been giving me through His Word.
Hobby: I can’t say that I have a particular hobby. My hobby, journaling through Scripture, became my ministry.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Study the Bible – Not in a seminary way, but in the way of a hungry heart seeking wisdom and guidance.
Pray and praise – Especially doing mundane chores or routine activities. Make talking to God in the little things and the big things a natural practice.
Be vigilant about your life – The people you surround yourself with, and the things you watch and read, can draw you closer to Jesus, or pull you away from Him. Don’t be afraid to let harmful things go, trust Him to fill those gaps.
Favorite person in scripture? I have quite a few. Joshua and Jeremiah because their love and passion for the Lord made them move forward despite their fear. Paul because I know what it’s like to be transformed and live to serve Him. Gamaliel, because the one line he’s most famous for is a piece of wisdom that I use regularly to discern and not judge (Acts 5:38-39). John, because he taught me so much about Jesus’ love for me when I first started reading the Bible. Jesus of course, because He turned out to be nothing like what I expected, and everything I needed!
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That there’s nothing that they’ve done that is beyond His grace. That He has beautiful plans to use them for His glory. That He can truly change a life.
How do you engage with your community? I host free monthly women’s gatherings in the community center where I serve breakfast and give a life application teaching with discussion. I also speak and teach at any local church whenever asked.
Favorite holiday? I love Easter the most because we serve a living God who died and raised for us. It’s a reminder that we don’t belong in the grave and that we are meant to rise up in Him and live according to His plan for us.
A goal you have? To speak about Jesus in all 50 states, and throughout the world, including my homeland of Trinidad & Tobago.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We’re not so much for tradition, but in 2019, we started going on a trip for Christmas, instead of focusing on presents, we focus on experiences together as a family. In 2021, we couldn’t go because I was recovering from spinal surgery, but this year, I hope to spend Christmas on a beach somewhere.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I used to think I would ask, “Who killed JFK?” Ha ha. But I’ll probably ask to see my ancestors (assuming that I will be with Jesus first thing.)
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Honestly, I know that there a lot of worthy issues out there, but I really want people to know Jesus, to truly experience Him through His Word and through that supernatural connection with the Holy Spirit. So much of the pain and despair that’s happening right now would be avoided if people had a real relationship with Jesus.
What does your morning routine consist of? I wake up and pray. I check my phone. Brush my teeth. Have breakfast and then do whatever that day entails. I don’t have a set quiet time, but God is a major part of every day. Routines are hard for me to stick to so it really just varies by the day.
What is on your nightstand? Night creams, a box of tissues, medicines, often my Bible and whatever I’m working on are there too.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is an active, sincere, relationship with Jesus Christ.
(Too many Christians don’t live by this, but it’s what I’ve seen in His apostles and the early church, and what I’ve seen in some amazing followers of Jesus that I know.)
For more Tischa:
Tischa van de Reep is a Christian writer, speaker, and teacher. She is also the founder of The Well Communicators, a diverse collective of speakers, teachers, and worship leaders. Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Tischa is married to Harald, who is from The Netherlands. They live in The Woodlands, Texas where they homeschool their two teenaged sons – Julian and Aidan.
Tischa’s writing and speaking style makes Scripture relatable to real life while encouraging and challenging the reader/listener. Her work in ministry extends from homeless, at-risk women in Houston, TX, to expat wives in Budapest, Hungary, to rural villagers in Malawi, Africa, and women across the US.
Lovely ‘interview’. Thank you Tischa for your openness. May your story continue to be a blessing..
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Thank you for reading!
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