“My parents were always busy and distracted…”
I wanted to belong somewhere, and ended up finding myself in the wrong crowd, trying to fill the void I felt inside. I was 17 years old when I first began drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot, and in a couple of years I was addicted to methamphetamines. I got married when I was 19, and had three boys. Years later, when my husband hurt his back at work, I started waitressing to support my family, but he would gamble and spend our money away on cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. He refused to work, and became angry and manipulative, threatening to take the kids away from me if I didn’t sell my body. He was so abusive and I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able function without drinking heavily and smoking meth to numb the fear and pain. The abuse continued and got worse until I finally got up the courage to leave, realizing that I needed to escape and take my children with me. My heart, spirit and mind were broken.
But God saved me. He helped me understand and admit that I was being badly abused. I needed a place to live with my boys. I wanted love and acceptance, and now I understand the love of Jesus. Since coming to Teen Challenge, I learned I have the power to choose the right path for my children and me. I am learning how to have healthy relationships, and I have plenty of support to know how much and how deeply I am loved and valued. My hope is to draw closer to God, for my children to know and trust the Lord, and to live a life of impact for God’s glory. I want to dedicate my life to help others who are enslaved in fear to abuse and human trafficking.
“If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” ~ John 8:36.
“At an early age I turned to drugs & alcohol…”
I grew up in a divorced household and at an early age I turned to drugs and alcohol as a way out of the hurt and anger. My parents loved me and did everything they could to keep me away from drugs, but I was already on my way to addiction. At the age of 16 I was free-basing OxyContin and shortly afterwards I was introduced to heroin. During the seven years I spent abusing opiates, I went through several rehab programs and ended up in jail with three felony charges. As a result of my poor decisions, and if I didn’t change my life, I knew I was facing a life of prison, or death. That’s when I found and entered the Teen Challenge program.
Living at Teen Challenge, I have learned to love myself; this was something I never thought possible. I have learned to be content in every situation, whether good or bad. God has changed my life in every possible way, restoring every broken relationship, and canceling a five-year felony charge. I am committed to studying the Bible and my heart longs to help young people who are lost and broken. I plan to continue growing in my Christian walk so I will be able to introduce and mentor young people in their relationship with Jesus. I also plan to enroll at a Bible College to invest in the gifts God has given me and to reach hurting people.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fail. But those who hope in the Lord he will renew your strengths you will soar on wings like eagles you will run and not grow weary and we will walk and not grow faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:30
“I told my mom that I’d been sexually abused…”
I had a pretty good childhood, though my parents went through a divorce when I was only 3 years old. I grew up enjoying family vacations and staying active, but at the end of my middle school year, I told my mom that I had been sexually abused by my dad. His family did not believe it happened, and I felt so alone, so I began to smoke marijuana to forget about my emotions. I had been dating a guy, but broke up with him when I moved out of state. Then I met another guy and began a very unhealthy relationship that lasted 10 years. During this time, I started smoking meth, dropped out of college, stole from my parents, and was eventually abused and exploited by my boyfriend. I was out of control and finally decided I needed help, so I reached out to Teen Challenge.
I have now been in Teen Challenge for a year, and God has really changed my life. My family is becoming restored with my dad, and we are working on our relationship. I feel renewed and free from the guilt and shame of the abuse and poor choices in my past. I have hope for a future that I know will not be full of failure and disappointment. I really want to help people who have struggled the way I have in abuse and prostitution. I want to make a stand for righteousness, and plan to gain more experience in some kind of mission work. I thank God for rescuing me from the mess I was in, and I owe my entire life to him.
“—for we walk by faith, not by sight—” ~ II Corinthians 5:7
“I tried OxyContine and ended up addicted to heroin…”
Though I had loving parents, my childhood was rough among my peers, and I had many experiences that led me to start smoking weed by the age of fifteen. Not long afterwards, I tried heroin, and ended up addicted to OxyContin.
Since entering Teen Challenge, my life is back on track and I have a sense of purpose and direction. I now have my parents back in my life, and our relationship is better than ever before. I am sober, and I have a vision for my life. I want to help others wherever and whenever I can. After Teen Challenge, I would like to go to college and begin my new life in Jesus.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13
Steven & Sarah
“She ended up doing cocaine, heroin and meth to escape the pain and anger…”
Steven was raised in San José in an unstable family with a violent father. When he was 12 years old his parents divorced, freeing him from the abuse, and he began to rebel with friends, drinking and smoking pot. He ended up selling meth, which led to arrests and jail time, but was released just in time for the birth of his first daughter. He cleaned up, but six years later he was alone, and ended up using more heavily with a new girlfriend, and she gave birth to his second daughter. That relationship also ended as a result of drug abuse, so he tried to sober up and get an education, but couldn’t seem to stop selling and abusing drugs, and ended up crossing paths with Sarah.
Sarah’s parents divorced and her mom’s new boyfriend grew pot, so she started doing drugs at a very young age. In fourth grade, she was caught with marijuana she had been selling at school, but managed to stay out of trouble for a while. Her parents were fighting for child custody, so she only saw her dad on weekends, and as she watched her mom suffer abuse from her step dad, she became angry and bitter towards men. Sarah got into a relationship that lasted six years and experienced a lot of the same kind of abuse, so she ended up doing cocaine, heroin and meth to escape the pain and anger. She eventually met Steven, and they would use and sell drugs together. It wasn’t until she took the fall from a police raid on their house, sitting alone in a jail cell, and pregnant with Steven’s third child, that she fully realized they needed to change their lives. They were homeless at that point, and stayed in a shelter while they looked for a recovery program and eventually decided on Teen Challenge.
Through the ministry of Teen Challenge Steven & Sarah have met Jesus and been stretched in their brand new faith, facing challenges in many areas of their lives. They have learned to become more patient and caring with each other and amazed at what God is doing as He brings restoration to their family. I am working on being a good father to my children, and a husband to my beautiful wife. I plan to lead, support and provide for my family spiritually and financially, and to live comfortably. They are learning healthy ways to express anger and God is repairing the bitterness that has been built up between one another. Their son, Dakota, brings unity and strength to the marriage and they are excited to discover the plans God has for their future.
“This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God.” ~ Luke 8:11