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Forgiving the Abusers of Her Past

Nona remembers, “I left the White House reception uh where I looked around and I saw all these amazing people and realized I was in the midst of them, but I still didn't feel – I didn't feel like I belonged.”

Nona Jones had made it to the top! She had worked with some of the most influential people in business and in politics. But now, at the height of her career, she couldn’t put her past behind.

Nona shares, “I still had just a sense of anger and bitterness in my heart concerning what happened in my childhood.”

Nona’s father died from cancer when she was 2. Before long, her mom met another man, named Lee, who moved in. Things were fine until her mom left Nona in his care to attend a funeral out of town. It was then he sexually abused Nona who was now only five.

Nona recalls, “I screamed, and I cried, and I asked him to stop and he didn’t, and he told me after all was over, ‘You'd better not tell your mother. She's never wanted you anyway, she'll get rid of you.’ And those words just really like seared into my soul because before that even happened there were times when my mother had said things like she never wanted to have me.”

Despite the threats, Nona told her mom, who had Lee arrested. But after a year in jail Nona’s mom let him move back in to help pay her bills.

Nona says, “To just know that he was coming back home and basically had a full license to my body at this point was devastating.”

For the next seven years, Nona endured abuse from her mom’s boyfriend and her mom.

Nona, “She would start just slapping me and hitting me and punching me for any reason or no reason at all. It was just absolutely terrifying.”

Nona was failing in school, and twice she tried to commit suicide. The second time she almost succeeded.

Nona remembers, “I found a butcher knife and I tried to slit both of my wrists. You can still see on the inside of my left wrist this is the scar from about I don’t know 20-25 years ago. I felt so completely unwanted. I was confused. Like ‘What did I do to deserve this?’”

Then, in 6th grade, a classmate invited Nona to church and, she listened to a message she desperately needed to hear…that God is a father to the fatherless. Nona started going to church regularly and eventually asked Jesus to change her life.

Nona recalls, “Just knowing that I was created by God on purpose was just such a freeing experience. And it began to translate to how I showed up in school.”

During that time, the sexual abuse finally stopped. Nona learned to hide the emotional pain of the abuse and began to excel in school. By 11th grade she was licensed into the ministry. Her first sermon, her mom and Lee showed up. Afterward, her mom confronted her.

Nona says, “My mother proceeded to curse me out, she called me all types of names, she said that I didn't acknowledge her good enough.”

Nona vowed that after she graduated from high school she would never return. She went on to a stellar college career, where she graduated with her MBA. Soon after, Nona landed an executive position in a fortune 100 company. She also garnered the attention of political circles and people of influence including the office of the president. But at a Whitehouse reception, she realized her life was empty.

Nona shares, “So there I was in the midst of this, you know, exclusive meeting where all these leaders were there, but I didn't feel like I had accomplished a lot. I didn't feel like I was worthy. I still felt like I didn't matter, like I was unwanted. What was really keeping me in the past was the question ‘Why?’ You know? Why was I born to this mother? Why didn't she love me? Why did she allow her boyfriend to hurt me? I think what God revealed to me is that there is no power in an apology. I had to also reconcile with the fact that just because she didn't apologize didn't mean I couldn't forgive her.”

With God’s help, Nona forgave her mom, and her abuser, and found peace and healing. She went on the marry Pastor Timothy L. Jones Sr. and had two sons. Eventually, she left the business world and was asked to help spearhead the global faith-based partnerships at Facebook.

Nona shares, “I work with communities of faith all around the world to help them use Facebook to do ministry. And I would have never imagined that I would be at the center of helping churches figure out how to navigate this new environment.”

Nona and her husband serve as the pastors at Open Door Ministries church in Gainesville, FL. Nona speaks around the world sharing God’s word, and helping victims of childhood abuse overcome their trauma and pain. She also shares her story in her book, ‘Success from the Inside Out.’

Nona says, “If you're experiencing, depression, discouragement, suicidal thoughts. If you're feeling like you have no worth, I want you to know that God loves you and that He is after you, He's after your heart and I truly want you to realize that your life is worth living. That's the type of God that we serve. He is a redeemer, He is a restorer, He is a deliverer and He can use every single part of us, even the parts of us that we hide in shame through the light and power of God He can use that uh to heal other people.”

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