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Testimony of the Month

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The three nights I slept outside before coming to the Rescue Mission in October of 2013 were among the worst in my life. I spent them sleeping inside a playground slide. Curled up in the tube, I was at least hidden and shielded from the wind.

A Community of Help

 

So when I came to the Rescue Mission, it was a drastic move from isolation and loneliness to community and friendship.


One of the people who welcomed me with open arms was my counselor, Cyndi Harris. Cyndi was with me when I first felt that God was real and I could trust Him. It was about two months after I had come to the Rescue Mission and I had to go to court. My charges stemmed from drug-related crimes, including one time when I had used drugs to purchase a car.
 

Since the charges were old, in my mind they were no big deal. But when Cyndi and I got to the courthouse, my attorney told us the charge was a second-degree felony, and the prosecutor was asking for me to spend 15 years in prison.

 

Cyndi asked me what I thought I needed to do, and I said, "pray." We prayed together and then we told my attorney about how I had joined the New Life Program at the Rescue Mission and was working to change my life. Through the prayer and our conversation with the attorney, a peace came over me. I felt like no matter what happened - even if I went to prison - it would be OK. It was the first time I really felt like I had fully trusted God in a situation.

 

Later, when my attorney came back and told me that the prosecutor had agreed to a 24-month probation if I finished the New Life Program, I felt like God was truly looking out for me.

 

Three months later, though I now believed in God, I was still struggling to live for Him. I started chatting with men online, even though it was against the rules of the New Life Program. When my actions came to light, I was asked to leave the Rescue Mission for 48 hours and decide if I truly wanted to be in the program. During my time away, I was angry that I had been caught and was considering giving up. But the community mentor the Rescue Mission had assigned to me, Marge Berry, was there for me. She went with me to two crystal meth recovery meetings, making sure I stayed sober and didn't quit the program.

 

Marge didn’t have to do that. She’s not an addict, and I am sure it was weird for her to attend recovery meetings with a bunch of crystal meth addicts, but she did it out of love. I know that without this great support system, I would not be one-year sober right now. From counselors, to community mentors, to my church family, the Mission has surrounded me with people who care about me too much to let me fail.

 

In fact, it was a long-time Mission volunteer that God first used to spark a flame of change in my life. Pastor Dean Shriver from Intermountain Baptist Church would come to the Salt Lake County Jail and meet with anyone who wanted to talk.

 

In 2011, I had been in jail for several months and was in a deep depression. The first day I was in jail, my grandmother and aunt visited me with bad news. They told me that my mother had died from lung cancer. I cried, threw up and was inconsolable. People in jail told me I needed help, but I wouldn’t listen. Finally, I decided to go talk to Pastor Dean. After our conversation, people came up to me and told me I looked like a different person. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know it really helped me. Later, after I got out of jail and was back to using drugs and living on the streets, I reached out to Pastor Dean. Since Pastor Dean is a long-time volunteer and former board member of the Mission, he urged me to go the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Center, where the staff could provide the help I needed for a changed life.

 

The Rescue Mission community has truly come to my rescue and has saved me from the destructive path I was on. Looking back, I can see that it was God who put all these great people in my path. He is the one who reached down to save me.

 

 

Drugs, Abuse and Death

 

And I did need a lot of saving. I started smoking marijuana when I was just nine years old, after stealing it from my step-father’s stash. Two years later, I tried crystal meth for the first time. I was at my uncle’s house and he was a meth cook. Since I started using drugs so early, my whole life has been a struggle to stay sober.

 

After graduating from high school, I started working at the airport and met my boyfriend, with whom I had a son, Isaiah. While I was excited to be a mother, I soon grew depressed. My friends kept telling me that my boyfriend was cheating on me and I started overeating. I ended up weighing 387 pounds.

 

When my boyfriend moved back to North Carolina, I became a single mother. I moved in with my own mother and she helped me out, but I continued to slip further and further into a life of drugs and crime. I sold drugs just as much as I used them and I even arranged for my clients to sleep with women I knew from the streets.

 

I tried having relationships with different guys, but they often turned abusive. Once, one of my boyfriends attacked me with two butcher knives; I was hospitalized for several weeks and required multiple surgeries.

 

I was lucky my mom could help take care of my son, but I also resented her, and there was a friction between us. I felt like she didn’t really care about me and had always wished that I had been born a boy. Still, it didn’t ease the pain when she called me and told me she was dying of lung cancer.

 

The pain became more unbearable when she passed away while I was in jail. After I got out, I continued to sell drugs, steal and get in fights. Before she died, my mother told me I needed to get my life together so I could care for my son without her help. But I couldn’t get it together and, finally, I decided that the best thing to do was to send my son to live with his father in North Carolina.

 

With my mom and my son gone, I had few meaningful connections here in Utah. I was smoking meth and using other drugs almost every day. At the end of my rope, I reached out to Pastor Dean, who referred me to the Rescue Mission.

 

A Changed Life

 

Today, I have been sober for over a year and have a good job with Replacement Parts. I have saved up enough money to afford an apartment and plan to have my son come back to live with me when I move into my own place later this year.

 

I know the best thing that the Rescue Mission did for me was introduce me to God. Before I came here, I didn’t really believe in God, or at least I didn’t know anything about Him. Now I go to church every Sunday at Intermountain Baptist Church. I haven’t missed a sermon in over a year. I have experienced what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus and have Him help me do what is right, instead of what is wrong.

 

When people from the streets see me now, they are shocked. They say things like, "It’s a miracle to see you out of the drug game," or "Steph, seeing you the way you are now, I don’t even know you. It’s like you walk into a room and it lights up."

 

I am looking forward to having my son Isaiah come back and live with me. He is excited, too, so you can pray that there wouldn’t be any complications getting him back from his father. One of my goals is just to stay the way I am right now. I have never been happier, but I know I will have to fight to stay sober. I want to be able to help other people and believe that many people will be able to relate to my experiences and be encouraged to leave drugs and the street life behind.
 

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great support of the Rescue Mission and its volunteers. And I know the Rescue Mission wouldn’t exist without God, so I praise Him. And I thank all of you, the supporters of the Rescue Mission, for helping create a place where people like me can come and get the help we need for a changed life.

 

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Stephanie with her counselor, Cyndi Harris (on the left)

 


To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in November, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer:

pdfNovember 2014 Rescuer

Looking for more testimonies? You can find them all in our Archives.

 

 

Thanksgiving Banquet

Our annual Thanksgiving Banquet is Wednesday, November 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a FREE event for anyone who needs some help this Thanksgving. We will have a delicious turkey dinner, clothing, showers, haircuts and flu shots (courtesy of the Fourth Street Clinic). If you live in Palmer Court, there will be free shuttle service to and from the main office leaving every 30 minutes starting at 11 a.m. (with the last van at 2:30 p.m.). Look for the Rescue Mission van.

 
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