How a Gideons Bible Changed Anna McGahan’s Life

Through starring roles in Underbelly, House Husbands,  the Doctor Blake Mysteries and Picnic at Hanging Rock, Anna McGahan became a familiar face on Australian TV. But with the rise of her fame, her self-esteem was crashing.

She’d come into acting pure-hearted and trusting, but by age 23, she’d realised her industry treated her as a commodity. Despite her incredible talent as an actor, she was often offered roles because of her body. ‘I learnt everything the hard way,’ she said, ‘and it was brutal.’

Having left her home in Brisbane to pursue her career, Anna found herself in a dog-eat-dog world with very few people to support her. When she caught up with Mel on 180 recently, she admitted that though she wasn’t a minor, she was young at heart. Having battled eating disorders as a teenager, she struggled to deal with the way the industry sexualised her. ‘When I’d never even considered myself beautiful, I was suddenly having to represent this idea of feminine sexuality in movies. And I was like I don’t know how to carry this at all.’

She often worried she was part of something that wasn’t quite right but, without a moral compass to guide her, all she could do was justify her actions after the fact. ‘I was inventing my own morality as I went.’

Anna had always thought Christians were just brainwashed but, when she asked a Christian guy out, and he was reluctant to date her because of his religion, she was intrigued by his commitment to his beliefs. ‘I was repulsed and captivated simultaneously. I was like Christianity, yuck yuck yuck! But then, that was something I knew so little about.’

One night, Anna was complaining about her crush to a girl she’d met in a bar. ‘I’m a Christian,’ the girl said. ‘I don’t think you have a completely correct idea of what that means.’ The conversation that followed lasted hours and, at the end, the girl invited Anna to her Church.

When she crossed the threshold of the Church, Anna immediately saw a vision of fire in her hands, and drops of light falling from the ceiling. ‘I was overwhelmed by this feeling of there’s something pure and good here. For the first time, I felt safe, and yet terrified.’

Soon afterward, Anna moved to Melbourne to film a new series. She found her new Christian friends much more welcoming than her fellow actors, but she didn’t feel pressured or that she was the target of evangelism. Still, she was worried she was being subtly indoctrinated.

She was completely shattered and remade by the love she read about,

the sense of worth no one had communicated to her before

Knowing her hotel room would have a Gideons Bible, she decided to check it out, hoping to work through this phase. ‘Once I see those Scriptures myself, and I see all the messy and weird stuff, I’ll get over it, and I’ll move on, and this little quarter-life crisis can be done with.’

Of course, things didn’t go as planned. From the first words of the New Testament, Anna immediately understood she was reading the truth. Over the next two weeks, she felt like she was talking to Jesus, realising that a space she thought excluded her was actually built for her. ‘I came for people like you,’ He told her. ‘I’m your ally. I’m your friend. The entire reason that I have come is to help piece you back together.’

She’d always been at war with her body, trying to lose weight, wishing she looked different. When she read that her body was a temple in 1 Corinthians 6:19, she looked in the mirror, and for the first time, she saw holy architecture.

She was completely shattered and remade by the love she read about, the sense of worth no one had communicated to her before. ‘You don’t have to try and bargain for love this way anymore,’ God told her. ‘You don’t have to give yourself over. You can lock yourself and hide yourself in Me. And you can just heal.’

These days there are so many lost people like Anna, who need God, but are misguided by secular ideas about who He is. To reach them, Anna says we shouldn’t preach, but instead cultivate our own love for Him. That’s what captivated her about the Christians she knew. ‘God seemed to truly satisfy their souls. And for someone who didn’t have a satisfied soul, it’s so attractive.’

She says if we stay in a place of awe and gratitude towards Him, sceptics will see we’re not just in this because our parents were, or because we’ve been compelled or brainwashed. If we show His light, people will want to know where it comes from. ‘And I promise you the time will come where they ask the question.’

‘So that’s the real gift we can give, loving without agenda, both that person who doesn’t know Christ, and God.’

About the author

Jonathan Craig

MORE GREAT READS FROM

Learning to Rely on God

On 4 June, 2016, 14-year-old Ashley Jones was riding shotgun in an all-terrain vehicle, in the mountains of Colorado. The ground was muddy from the previous night’s rain, so when the ATV took a turn too fast, the wheels lost traction, and the vehicle flipped over onto its right side. As she fell, Ashley instinctively…

Bring What you Have, and Let Him Multiply

You’d think the chance to audition for one of the biggest Christian bands in the world would be super exciting. But when 17-year-old Jen Ledger got the chance to play with Skillet, she just felt terrified. ‘I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse,’ she told Alex when they caught up recently. ‘It was so intimidating…

God’s Patience in One Man’s Life

Part of having faith is knowing that God has a plan for each of us. But we also know that sometimes we can’t know how that plan will play out. Sometimes God plays the long game. When Tim Bisagno was ten years old, a visitor said that if, later in life, he was struggling, he…

How a Gideons Bible Changed Anna McGahan’s Life

Through starring roles in Underbelly, House Husbands,  the Doctor Blake Mysteries and Picnic at Hanging Rock, Anna McGahan became a familiar face on Australian TV. But with the rise of her fame, her self-esteem was crashing. She’d come into acting pure-hearted and trusting, but by age 23, she’d realised her industry treated her as a…

God of Always

Can you think of one word to accurately describe this year so far? ‘Crazy’ doesn’t come close! As much as there have been some dark moments, we’ve also been touched by some awesome messages from people all around Australia, listening to the radio, connected and united by awesome tunes. This is the story of one…

Building the Kingdom, Brick by Brick

When Alex’s brother got Lego sets for Christmas, he’d always end up asking his big sister for help. ‘It would take me like months to build a little truck!’ she admitted. But on Nine’s Lego Masters, you had less than twelve hours to build some of the most elaborate creations ever assembled. You might think…

Under Pressure

Only a couple of years ago, at just 15, Coby James started writing songs every day. He’d played guitar all his life, but this creative growth spurt was different. ‘I think a girl broke my heart or something,’ he said, ‘and I just wanted to find a way to express it.’ ‘They were just like…

The Unstoppable Bethany Hamilton

If a shark bit off your arm, would you be happy to jump back in the ocean every morning? That’s exactly what Bethany Hamilton did. At just 13, after a horrific shark attack, she chose to confront her fear to pursue her passion. If you’ve seen the movie, Soul Surfer, which tells her story, you’ll…

Christ’s Royal Blood Can Wash Away Fear

Is it just us, or does March 2020 feel like it happened millions of years ago? If you can think back that far, you’ll remember that, for a little while, the world was in a state of limbo, as we tried to work out what we would have to sacrifice to beat COVID-19. When new…

Trusting in Better Hands

The fire was bearing down on her hometown of Cobargo, but Rachel was less worried for herself than for her boyfriend. She knew his family’s property was in even more danger, and she thought the blaze would get to them before her. But when she spoke to him that morning, he told her they were…

Recent Articles

Never Too Young

Have you ever felt like you’re too young to make an impact? It can feel like we’re always being told that we have to wait a few years to be taken seriously, or to impact the world in the way we want to. Well, the Vision180 team had the opportunity to chat with the Swedish…

An Aussie Nurse at War

The night sky was bright with flames. Bombs fell just behind the trenches, shattering the buildings and setting tents alight. As the raid continued, four nurses dashed in and out of the attack zone, rescuing their patients and carrying them to safety or placing tables over the wounded in an effort to protect them. One…

Jots and Tittles: A Closer Look at a Little Bit of Hebrew

After the cold, dark months of Winter, the first flowers that peep out from the frosty ground are welcomed as a sign that warmer weather is on its way. The season of Spring is named for the action of plants appearing and shooting up from the earth. Of course, it’s not just vegetation that springs…

Learning to Rely on God

On 4 June, 2016, 14-year-old Ashley Jones was riding shotgun in an all-terrain vehicle, in the mountains of Colorado. The ground was muddy from the previous night’s rain, so when the ATV took a turn too fast, the wheels lost traction, and the vehicle flipped over onto its right side. As she fell, Ashley instinctively…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.