LONDON – Phylicia Hawkins has fond memories of walking hand-in-hand with her father to church on Sundays, her hair braided and bouncing behind her as she strutted her Sunday best.
“My father was a wonderful man who helped us build our testimonies of the power of God,” she said.
As a little girl growing up on the Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos, going to church was never a question. She was taught by her father from a very young age that God loves her, prayer is real, and the scriptures are true.
But even though she grew up with a strong Protestant religious foundation, Phylicia’s faith was greatly tried when her father suddenly died of a heart attack in 2016. She and her family quickly realized that they could no longer rely on their father’s belief in God to help them through their trials.
“He was the one who really held the house down, and when he died…we had to step up and ask ourselves what we really believe,” she said.
For a time, Phylicia felt that God had abandoned her. “There seemed to be a pattern in my life where, after my father passed away, everything really started crumbling down,” she said.
She could not understand why He would put her family through so much pain, and she even stopped going to church because her faith was so shaken.
But even through the dark months after her father’s death, Phylicia didn’t stop praying. She prayed and prayed for comfort and answers to understand God’s plan. One day, the Spirit whispered to her that the reason God was putting her through those trials was so that she could truly learn to rely on Him.
This answer did not take away her pain, but it helped her see with a greater perspective the reasons for the trials in her life.
“Once I started living the life I knew my father would want me to live, I felt so much more at ease. I realized I needed to forget myself and put all my trust in Him,” she said.
Now, just as her father always wanted, Phylicia is pursuing her education as a student at Westminster College in London. She is surrounded by young people who face the same questions she struggled with after her father’s death: “Who is God?” “Is He real?” “How can I know if He’s real?”
“It’s okay to have those uncertainties. It’s best that you don’t just sit around doubting, but that you go out and seek to find the answers for yourself,” said Phylicia, who admits to struggling with similar questions.
Phylicia still misses her father dearly, but because she found comfort and answers to her questions through prayer and attending church, she feels closer to her Heavenly Father and seeks to help others through their own trials.