The Power of the Cross
My name is Ken Baker, I am a kaumātua, a born-again believer and follower of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am proud of my Māori heritage: Ngapuhi Iwi on my father Grayson’s side, and Raukawa Tainui on my mother Parekura Rawson’s side. This is my story of God’s amazing transforming power and testimony of how I came to Jesus.
I grew up on a marae in Putāruru in my early years. I never met my dear mother Parekura Rawson, as sadly she died in early 1947 of tuberculosis. She was from Whangamatā, and was considered a lovely young woman and mother. I was her only child, born at the end of 1946, so I was only a few months old when she passed at the young age of 19 years. It was a very sad time for me growing up in those early years—it took me 73 years to get one photo of my mum which I treasure to this very day.
After Mum died, her mother, my grandmother Kuia Wahi, looked after me. She spoke only te reo Māori. Sadly, she died when I was about seven years old, and I was sent to live with my father and his whānau (family). There I experienced much abuse. It was a hostile environment, where I endured much pain, hurt, alcoholism, fighting, anger, bitterness, hatred and abuse. I was lonely, unloved, unwanted and motherless. Rejected, I ran away from home many times.
A relative from my mother’s side saw the abuse and told my father that she was taking me north to Whangārei, no questions asked! This was a good move and part of God’s plan for me.
Introduction to Christianity
In Whangārei, my aunty was a cleaner for a family by the name of McGiven, and I got to know the family over those years. When my aunty told the McGiven family that she was moving back down south, they asked if they could keep me—like a son. This was similar to a fostering situation, but back then no paperwork changed hands to make it legally binding.
Mrs McGiven was a Christian, and I was able to see Christianity in action in someone’s life.
I settled down and made a life for myself. I attended Whangārei Intermediate, where I did very well. I was then sent to St Stephen’s College in Auckland for three years. I then left school and started an apprenticeship as a panel beater.
Goodness and mercy
When I was 26, I met my beautiful wife Anne (née Perrett) from Australia, we married and 21 months later we had our first-born son Shaun (now Captain Shaun Baker). We stayed in Whangārei for a few more years, then we moved to North Shore, Auckland, where we had our second child Kurt. We lived in Auckland for another three years, then we moved to Australia for almost 20 years.
In Australia, life took a turn for the worse. I took my undealt hurt and pain with me and I became bitter with anger and hatred. I hated God and God’s people. I became an aggressive alcoholic. I would come home drunk and put my family through so much hurt and pain. Apparently our two sons were so very scared, and they would ask their mother why their dad was always angry and smashing things.
During these years my wife and our boys came to Christ, which angered me more. Anne threatened to leave.
One day I came home from work and all my clothes were thrown out the front door, she’d had enough. I was in shock. She gave me a choice: us or the bottle.
People advised Anne to get rid of me, that I was useless, hopeless and good for nothing. But the Dutch Reformed Church she and the boys attended were very good to them. Pastor Cor Vanderhorn visited them, giving them spiritual support. The church told her not to give up on me, and that they were praying fervently for me. Six years they prayed for me before they saw any results.
Anne told me to leave and sort myself out. Well, that short time away from my family was hell for me. I was a lost and lonely man with, I thought, no way back. I considered suicide, but something amazing stopped me in my tracks; looking back I now know it was Jesus Christ, but I didn’t know it at that time.
God’s amazing grace
My first week back, Anne asked me to go to the Assemblies of God church with her in Mt Evelyn, Melbourne; I said no. She asked me again the next week and, to stop her persistence, I decided to go. I went to church but came back with an attitude.
Anne sat me down and said, ‘Ken, God loves you, but he hates what you are doing. Jesus can truly help you if you let him, he will care for you and set you free from what you are doing to us. If you do not repent and ask for forgiveness, you are destined for hell.’ Well, those words drove deep into my heart and my whole being, it struck like a knife through butter. I became restless, scared stiff of what was going to happen to me. I became fearful of hell and Satan. All that week I couldn’t sleep.
The following weekend I got saved! My dear wife asked me, ‘Do you want to go to church?’ This time, without any hesitation, I said yes because I needed to find out if there really was a God.
The pastor, Jeff Bradshaw (a beautiful man of God) announced that if anyone needed prayer for whatever they are struggling with in life, to come up. People started to go forward for prayer, and that’s when
I started shaking like a leaf. I grabbed the side of my chair with both hands and held on for dear life. I said in my heart, ‘I am not going anywhere, not for God and not for God’s people’. Finally, the people sat down, and the pressure released. Then more people went up for prayer. Suddenly all hell broke loose, I started to shake again and I felt so fearful, like my world was crashing around me. I grabbed hold of my chair a second time and said in my heart, ‘No God!’ I was not going anywhere, not for God and not for God’s people.
Again, the people sat down, and Pastor Jeff was just about to read the benediction and close the service when suddenly this mighty voice called out in my head: ‘Come my son, come as you are. I love you and I will set you free’.
I stood up and went forward, tears were flowing—not just mine but Pastor Jeff’s as well. We cried, and hugged the entire congregation, while I’m sure all of heaven looked on in wonder and excitement.
I got saved because of the wonderful power of the cross and because of the wonderful power of prayer.