“God had a plan. There is no denying it. On a mission trip of all things, 4 months sober, I found myself praying to a God I did not believe loved me...a God that I believed had those he chose and those he didnt and I was part of the latter. I prayed because people told me I needed to in order to stay sober. There were times I felt him, saw him. I pushed it away out of fear and anger and resentment I had toward God for the things that happened in my life: I was sexually, physically, mentally abused as a child which carried over to other relationships in my life. I was a drug addict that was human trafficked, in and out of jails and rehabs. Why would I think God loved me?
I watched the people that went on the trip with me. I wanted what they had. They made it look so easy to know what and who God was. ‘I'll never have that,’ I thought. I met the people from Compassion International. They were almost annoying with the way they talked about God and his love, his blessings, our mission as believers...I felt like a fraud.
Then I met the people of Bolivia. I saw how they were living and yet, they were filled with all of these traits as well. I wondered, how could this be? They had nothing, they lived in clay homes and if they’re lucky they didn't have a dirt floor. I was baffled, moved, intrigued. Mind you, no one knew I was feeling this way. I felt I had to hide all my questions and doubts or else I'd be judged and they would know I didn't belong there.
And then, on our first trip to the outskirts of Cochabamba, I met a woman. Through a translator we began to talk. I barely realized we were speaking through someone else as she shared with me her experiences growing up: abuses she had suffered, crimes she had participated in, addictions she overcame and how she found God working inside all of it once she got outside of it. And now here I am 4 months sober, all of my past, same as hers, looking right back at me. It was like she was telling me my story! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had his hand in it. Right there and then I knew that God has always been with me. He didn't want my life to turn out as it did. Maybe God even hurts for me. Maybe I can just surrender. Maybe I don't have to feel so alone anymore, outcast from everyone else.
I met God in a new way that day and I have never looked back.
I am still sober 3 years, 8 months later. I am raising my children up in the church. I am determined to help them know God in ways I did not as a child. I have an older daughter whom I didn't have the chance to raise this way but I know God will find a way to reach her. I wear God on my sleeve everywhere I go. I am proud to follow Jesus and share with others my experience.
I know that my pain was caused by the will of others and I survived it all by the will of my Creator.
I know that God now uses my story so that I can help bring others to him in the same way that woman did for me.
I don't think I would be where I am if not for Restoration Church, a community that wraps itself around the world, sending me on a trip to Bolivia. I have found true love in the Lord Jesus Christ and freedom down here on earth and it all began the first day I stepped into RC 6 years ago. But I became a believer on a trip to Bolivia. I will never be the same.”