The following is a testimony that will encourage every parent of a prodigal. Alycia Neigbours is a professed prodigal who put her parents through years of worry and pain throughout her childhood, and for eight years they lived the nightmare of not knowing if she was alive or dead. In her own words, Alycia shares her prodigal story and why it’s so important for parents to never stop praying for their prodigal child, even when they don’t immediately see change.
Prodigal On the Run by Alycia Neighbours
I Ran From My Family and God
I started running away from my family and God when I was in my early teens. I ran because I sought acceptance, approval and an excitement I didn’t believe I had within my home. I ran because I wanted to be my own boss of my destiny and thought I could find purpose on my own with no help from my earthly family or from a God I couldn’t see or hear.
My answer to any inward or outward conflict was flight.
My parents made the difficult decision to place me in a group home. I thought they just didn’t want me around, and for a while I played the game of following the rules. Then the urge came from nowhere to run again. It wasn’t a suggestion of my mind, but a desire of my heart. Just to prove in this controlled environment that I didn’t need anyone and could once again design my life with no help from anyone else.
I Ran Into an Abusive Relationship
Years later, I found myself in a marriage full of domestic abuse that would not allow me to run. Oh, I tried to run a few times, but he made sure that I regretted it and even threatened my life if I tried it again. Before the marriage, I had a son by another man. After a few beatings from my husband and seeing his anger directed toward my son, I signed away my parental rights to my son’s natural father and took my husband’s suggestion to disappear from everyone.
For eight years, there was no contact with anyone in my family or extended family. Often during those times, I had a strong pull to contact my parents, but I wasn’t allowed a phone or alone time away from the house. I was trapped and I began to pray that somehow there would be a way for me to reach out to my family. No easy option presented itself, so I realized I was going to have to make something happen. I emailed my aunt and asked her if restoration was even possible. She encouraged me that my parents loved me deeply and I needed to heal what was broken.
A Praying Mother’s Prayers
In my mother’s prayer journal, she had written:
“After not seeing our daughter Alycia for over 8 years, and not hearing from her in 3-4 years, I was compelled for the last couple of months to pray that God would just let us know if Alycia was alive. During the last month, Amanda, [her twin sister] unknowing of my prayers, was also searching once again for her on the Internet. She finally came across her name on an email on petfinders.com. It was a response thanking someone for returning her missing dog.
Amanda emailed me the string of emails with this information. That continued to stir my heart and prayers for Alycia. “Sleuth” Amanda began trying to find the lady who had found the dog, and when she did, she discovered it had taken place a couple of years ago. But as Amanda continued to search, she came across a “last known” address. On Wednesday, November 1, Amanda drove to the address and knocked on the door. No one answered so she left a note saying, “If Alycia lives here, please call and just give us a phone number so we could let her know if someone in our family died.”
I took my husband’s cell phone while he was sleeping and called my mom. We exchanged some pictures online of her one-year-old granddaughter she had not met and made plans to meet. At this same time, my twin sister Amanda had felt the pull to track me down and found the house I had just moved from. We missed each other by about two weeks. My husband was not pleased about my sneaking, but I cracked the door open to my family and even he knew that he couldn’t prevent me from meeting with them. He did send me to the reunion with a broken nose and two black eyes, but I made contact, finally.
I Ran Back Into the Welcoming Arms of God and My Parents
The restoration of the prodigal child and parent relationship can take time because of the trust issues during the prodigal’s flight mode and absences; but it’s not beyond our God’s ability to heal. I would imagine that if we sat down with a calendar, every time I felt a “pull” to go home was the same time that my parents and others were in intense prayer for me.
In my mother’s journal about the experience of finding me, she said this
“Alycia knew nothing about my prayers or Amanda’s searching, which is why this had to be the work of the Holy Spirit nudging each of us toward one another.”
Now many years later, my parents and I have a good relationship. My marriage to the abusive man ended through widowhood, and I’m now married to a wonderful man and have gained four bonus sons in addition to my three girls. My faith and love in my Heavenly Father has been restored as I allowed him to finally bless me the way he had always wanted to do. I allow his will to dictate my life and no longer feel the need to make my own way. His plan and purpose is so much better.
I have stopped running because this time I ran to love, acceptance, family, and purpose—which had been there all along. It just took my prayers and the prayers of my parents and many others to help me see this.
What Do I Want Parents of Prodgials to Take Away?
1. Never stop praying or give up hope on your prodigal. It may be weeks, months, or years, but your prayers are essential for your prodigal to feel the “pull” home.
2. If you still have limited contact with your prodigal, don’t let him/her see your bitterness or anger at his/her actions. Mimic God’s love and acceptance. You can verbalize that you don’t like what he/she is doing, but you will always love your child.
3. Your prodigal may be in a situation that does not allow him/her to come home or make contact. Form large prayer groups to cover your prodigal in prayer. More prayers, more “pull.”
Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Janet Thompson is the author of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, which includes the story of Alycia’s prodigal years as told from her mother Chris Adam’s perspective and her parents’ tenacity not to give up, but to continue praying for her return.
Janet is an international speaker and an award-winning author of 17 books and the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet on her website, facebook, LinkedIn, pinterest, and twitter.
Publication date: October 28, 2014