Jesus is changing lives! Take a minute to check out some of these short testimonies from Freedom House residents. "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

My name is Stacy Jane Bannon.  I am 45 years old.  I am a native Texan.  I came from a broken home and an extremely dysfunctional childhood. As difficult as it was, I know my parents did the best they could.  I came to know the Lord and  Jesus at a very young age, attending vacation Bible school, regular church services, and church youth camps.  However, I began at a very young age feeling lonely, empty and confused seeking out anything to change the way I felt.  I went to my first secular rehab at the age of 14 and have been in and out of rehabs every since.  I have periods of sobriety throughout my whole life seeking recovery through several 12 step programs.  I have also had several careers in my life that served me well, however, nothing can compare to the divine purpose and calling GOD has on my life.  The Bible refers to the number 7 being the number of completion.  Well, Freedom House is the 7th “rehab” I have been to within 7 years and I have been charged with 7 DWI’s (with convictions) yet I am not a felon nor have I ever served time in prison.  God has been faithful and just even when I wasn’t.  He has been waiting for me my whole life.  He has healed me from my addictions, anxieties and depression.  The Lord told me when I arrived here He needed me to stay until He said it was time for me to go.  This word from the Lord came too soon for me to receive it.  I graduated from the program on February 23rd and have decided to stay here for staff training.  So, as I continue to embellish on my walk with Jesus, seeking the Lord in all I do.  I am happy to say that I will be serving Him at Freedom House.  I have found His purpose for my life.  Praise the Lord!! Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

My name is Russell Bishop, I am 54 years old from Highlandville, Missouri.  My father was a Baptist preacher and our lives were centered around God.  I was saved when I was 18. I attended a Bible college for 4 years and married my high school sweetheart, Sharon.  Our intention was to serve the Lord in whatever avenue He would lead us, which we did for a while. Going to church seemed to just become an obligation. Having a drink on the weekend was not uncommon, but at the time I could take it or leave it.  My walk with the Lord was suffering. I started missing church, setting the Bible down and not even praying. I became very successful in the construction business and began to believe it was all my self-reliance and not at all the Lord taking care of me and my family.This had not been a conscience decision of not relying on Him, it was gradual.  The housing market crashed and I was no longer the hero I thought I was.  My drinking escalated from weekends to daily. I still thought I could stop if I wanted to, but I didn’t realize that drinking had replaced my relationship with Christ.  I took a job out of town and the problem got worse. Now I was drinking from the stress of being away from my family.  Wherever I turned, alcohol seemed to be the answer.  I eventually opened a taxidermy and gun shop to be back home more.  I started drinking earlier in the afternoons.  Alcohol had its hold on me, and it seemed there was no way out.  It was taking me down a road of destruction.  The Lord had a plan for me even though I had let something else replace Him.  God had put a man twenty years earlier in my path.  This man was a recent graduate of Freedom House.  Sharon invited our friend to our home in February 2019 to talk to us about how the Lord helped him overcome his alcohol addiction.  I made every excuse about why I should not go to Freedom House.  All these excuses still had to do with self-reliance. Finally, in August, I woke up in the middle of the night telling Sharon I needed help.  The power of prayer should never be underestimated.  Sharon later told me she had been praying 3 years for me to get the end of myself and go down to Freedom House.  James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” On August 16, 2019 I arrived at Freedom House a broken man.  This decision at a crossroads in my life turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.  God was here waiting on me to be obedient and make the right choice to come back to Him.  The Lord has not only taken away my desire to drink, He has restored my marriage and given me a desire to serve Him again.  I thank the Lord for His protection when allowing me to get into a mess I created, bring me through self-destruction and then provide a way out.  I want to put Jesus first in my life again and owe Him everything.  He is the author and finisher of my faith.  Gal 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lived in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I’m excited to see what the Lord had in store for me.

My name is Clair Florence.  I am 58 years old.  I was born and raised on a farm in central Illinois.  I was raised in the church and received Jesus at the age of 9, but as time went on, I didn’t act as if I was saved. I have always had issues with self-esteem, shame, and guilt.  I began drinking in high school and by the time I was in college, I was experimenting with all kinds of drugs.  I got married in 1979 and a  few years later we had two wonderful children, a boy, and a girl.  It was one of the best times in my life.  We were active in our church  and I wasn’t doing drugs anymore.

Slowly though, I began to drink again and I drifted away from God.  I still felt shame and guilt and felt even more guilt because I knew I was far from God and I was hiding a dark secret.  Over the years, I became very depresses and anxious.  I started taking pain pills because they made me feel better, but only for a short time.  I then reached a point where deep darkness surrounded me.  I felt so worthless I just wanted to die.  I had lost my job and hurt my family very deeply; especially my husband.  The enemy had stolen everything from me.  But I began to cry out desperately to God.  One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  I knew that if God didn’t save me soon, I was going to die. 

So I called my brother Andy who was at a Mission Teens center in Marked Tree, Arkansas.  He told me that I needed to go to a mission.  He said to call Freedom House in Holcomb, Missouri so I did.  And I have been here for 6 months. Shortly after arriving, I felt such a sense of peace.  I realized that I always thought I had a relationship with Jesus, but I didn’t.  Not like I do now.  He’s shown me that He loves me more than I could possibly imagine.  I’ve learned to forgive myself and to accept myself the way God does.  I am so thankful to Mission Teens for giving me a chance to get closer to God and learn more about Jesus.  I’m looking forward to my future now and no matter what I do, I just want to serve the Lord.  I don’t want to go back to the darkness, I just want to keep seeking the Light.  I finally have hope instead of despair.  Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”

My name is Jason Freeman.  I was born In Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 1982 and I was raised in Dexter, Missouri.  I have an older sister and an adopted brother and sister. My childhood was what I would consider normal.  I went to a Baptist church and I played all sports but was especially good at baseball.  When I was 13, I stopped going to church and started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  In no time, I got in trouble for bringing drugs to school.  I got put on probation and kicked off the ball team.  I was put on in-school suspension for a full year and that still didn’t get my attention.  I got in trouble for the same thing and this time I told the judge that I would serve in the military instead of being put back on probation.  He accepted my offer and before I knew it, I was away from everyone I loved and in Chicago for basic training for the Navy.  After that I went to San Diego to complete my training and then I was off to Iraq.  I was part of a search and rescue team.  I was actually not using drugs at this time, but I was drinking more and more.  I did 2 tours in Iraq.  The second, shorter tour was actually much harder because this time I actually had to take several lives, one of which was a 15-year-old child.  This haunted me for years.  I got hit with an I.E.D. and was discharged.  I was an emotional and physical train wreck.  I should have turned to the Lord, but instead I turned to more drugs and alcohol.  This just made everything worse.  I was in a loop of using…getting in trouble with the law…going to jail, prison, rehab…nothing worked.  I had to absolutely come to the end of myself.  I met my wife seven years ago.  I wasn’t the best I could be, but she loved me, and we decided to start a family together.  We now have 3 beautiful children ages 6, 5 and 2.  Something had to change so my kids would have the father they deserve.  I finally got to the point of hopelessness when I was guided to the Freedom House.  When I got here, I got to know Jesus.  He shown me that I must forgive myself for all I’ve done.  He also showed me that I had to stop hating the world and learn how to love myself and others.  Through Him, I am receiving the healing that I really needed, and he is restoring my family.  I know that if the Lord had not called me out of the dark place I was in, I would not be alive today.  Now I am given the opportunity to raise my children up in the Lord and lead my wife to Him.  I praise Him for the joy of my salvation and for not giving up on me when I had given up on myself.  I want to keep building His kingdom in all that I say and do.  I am so grateful that I am still alive to be given such a great opportunity of sharing His love with others. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

My name is Melissa Gaydos and I’m 29 years old.  My whole life I never felt like I fit in and that I needed to be different somehow.  No matter who I was around I felt all alone.  From as long as I can remember I struggled with depression.  Like what’s the point to life or does it even matter If I’m alive.  I was bullied a lot too and walked in a lot of fear.  Why doesn’t anyone like me or why can’t I just be normal are questions that haunted me.  Pain pills took all those thoughts away, well at least at first.  Suddenly that sick feeling in my stomach was gone and I felt normal.  Before I knew it though, that same pill consumed and controlled me.  It didn’t matter if I was broke or homeless or who I hurt.  I was a master manipulator and pathological liar.  No one could stand to be around me but that didn’t matter.  In 2011 I got saved because something inside of me told me I needed Jesus.  In the Bible Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16 and I believe that.  At that time, I wasn’t looking for Jesus, but He found me.  I got to know Jesus really well and fell in love with Him.  Everything was different, it wasn’t like I never struggled again, and my life is happily ever after.  Along the way I have fallen got back up and fallen again.  I still struggled with depression and loneliness.  I still have to face me every day.  The good, bad and ugly.  At times it hurts as bad I just wanted to give up.  Bitterness, anger and self-righteousness have tripped me up more times than I like to admit.  Jesus has been there for me the whole time though with just enough grace to get me through.  He didn’t just save me from my sin, but He saved me from my self.  I picture Jesus on the cross, beaten so bad that you can’t even recognize Him, people laughing and mocking Him and Jesus just looking back at them with this hurt in His eyes like, :Don’t you know I love you.” And I get to know that love today.  Everyday I get to know that even more.  His love far outweighs any guilt or shame or sin.  I have been at Freedom House for almost a year and it has given me a safe place to be myself, to make mistakes and to grow.  Everyone here seeks after Jesus with their entire heart.  No one’s perfect but we all just try to love each other like Jesus because we know that “love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Hi, my name is Robbie Ingram.  I’m 31 years old and I’m from Dexter, Missouri.  I was born in South St. Louis, but when I was 3 years old, my dad went to prison and my parents got divorced.  My mom decided to move me and my 3 sisters and 2 brothers to Dexter and be near my grandparents.  My mom worked a lot to support all of us, but her heart was always with us.  I can remember going to church as a child. 

I loved learning about Jesus and singing the kid's songs, but what I liked most was going to McDonald's for a happy meal after church.  I

 guess looking back, my problems started at a very early age as I was only going to church for a happy meal.  My mother got remarried to my stepdad and we moved to his place in Tennessee.  He turned out to be verbally and physically abusive to all of us.  When I graduated high school I moved back to Missouri, leaving behind my mother and my youngest sister and brother. I was so bitter at my stepdad, I began to despise ALL men. I got the news that my real father had been released from prison, so I decided to try to find him.  After contacting him, I decided to move to Detroit to spend time with him.  He was and still is, an alcoholic and drug addict.  I moved in with him and his girlfriend.  She became very jealous of me and my father’s relationship and demanded that my father chooses between us, so I decided to move back to Missouri.  I left bitter towards her and began to also despise ALL women too.  A short time later, I received a horrible phone call from my step-father.  My youngest brother had hung himself and my mother found him dead in the barn.  I went to the funeral and left a different person.  I despised EVERYONE.  I shut down and lost my wife and son in the process.  I tried several times to kill myself and nothing would work.  One night I cried out to Jesus to save me from these demons.  I told him that I didn’t want to be depressed anymore.  I admitted myself to a psych ward because I had a fear that I was going to hurt myself.  While I was there, they told me about Freedom House.  When I got here, I felt accepted and loved before I even got out of the car.  I’ve been here for 7 months now.  I have learned how to love myself and love others as Jesus does.  Jesus took my depression and turned it into confession, He took my isolation and surrounded me with people who love me, He is teaching me how to live the right way-for Him.  I am no longer a slave to fear.  He is breaking chains off of me daily.  John 15:4 says “Abide in me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” I am so thankful for this new life that Jesus has given me, raising me up to be a soldier for Him.

My name is Melissa Jones.  I am 46 years old.  My life has never been what some call “normal”.  My dad was in prison until  I was around 12  years old.  Then when he  came home,  he was a  drug dealer  which  was   my introduction to cocaine, meth, marijuana and even the needle.  By the time I was 15, I was injecting cocaine and meth daily and had dropped out of school.  My dad ended up back in prison which left me with my mom who basically could not control me.  I ran wild and lived life in the fast lane.  By the time I was 18; I had 2 children out of wedlock and was married to a man who had recently been released from prison.  I was also addicted to prescription drugs along with street drugs.  At this point, my life consisted of sex, drugs, rock and roll and men.  I left my children in my mom and grandma’s care all the time so I could do what I wanted.  When I was 25, I had divorced my first husband and married the 2nd guy who was straight out of prison.  It was an abusive relationship, leaving me in the ICU twice and eventually we got divorced.  By this time, I have to honestly say I can’t really remember anything.  At the age of 34, I entered Mission Teens in Jerseyville, IL.  It was a whole new life and lifestyle for me and most days I loved it.  I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and through the Word of God and the program I learned how to genuinely love others as Christ loves us.  I stayed for 2 years and left basically to try to build a life of my own.  As I set up “my own kingdom”, I met another man and remarried.  Before I knew it, in a year’s time, I was doctor shopping and was right back where I started from.  This time my addiction and depression were worse than ever.  For seven years I tried to numb the conviction I felt from the Holy Spirit, knowing that Jesus was the only answer.  This exact time last year I began to wholeheartedly cry out to God asking Him to just take my life.  As the months rolled on, I prayed every day “Jesus just take the wheel”.  In June of this year, I had taken an overdose of prescription meds and ended up in the ICU for the 3rd time this year.  I surrendered then and there.  I called Freedom House the doors flew open for me. (He made all the crooked paths straight)  Since I have been back in the ministry, Jesus had delivered me from years of depression along with my addiction.  He has given me peace that surpasses all understanding.  Today I have joy in my heart.  Today I strive to set up God’s kingdom and help others who struggle with life as I have.  Today I just want to be the person Jesus wants me to be.  Thank you and God bless. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”- Galatians 6:9

My name is Katlyn Juergensmeyer. I’m 27 years old from Troy, Missouri.  I grew up with 2 amazing parents and 3 siblings.  Growing up life was good.  I never needed for anything in my life, or so I thought.  I soon realized that I needed Jesus. At age 16 I went on a mission trip and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I was on fire for God and went to church every time I could. All through High school I struggled to find out who I was.  That soon brought on depression,anxiety and self-hatred.  I have always struggled with my wight, which just added to the self-hatred I felt towards myself.  I never once turned to drugs or alcohol to cope, instead I realized the freedom I got from self-harming with razor blades.  At first the self-harming was only when something really bothered me, and my anxiety was really bad.  Soon though it turned into self-harming when I felt happy, sad, tired or when I just didn’t want to feel.  Every time I cut myself, I always wanted to get the “feeling” I got the first time I cut.  At this point in my life I was cutting myself every week and seeing a therapist 2 times a week and going to a psychiatrist once a month.  I was on 5 different medicines.  I began to realize that cutting wasn’t working anymore.  I’m beyond grateful that the Lord stepped in before it got worse.  My life was slowly spinning out of control.  I tried to hold on to that fire I had for the Lord after I got saved, but my hope was overtaken by the weight of the depression.  All I could focus on was when I could self-harm, sleep or be by myself.  I wasn’t able to hold down a job longer than 6 months because when it got hard, I quit.  I was slowly quitting my relationship with the Lord too, because it was getting too hard.  Just as I was about to give up with the Lord, God placed 2 Rivers church in my life.  There I connected and met amazing God-fearing people.  It was at this time that I knew that I didn’t want to live like I was living anymore.  I was also at a point where I didn’t trust myself anymore.  I decided to check myself into the hospital.  It was at the hospital that I first heard of Freedom House.  My pastor’s wife came to visit me and shared with me all about Freedom House.  Little did I know I would be there just one week later.  After I was released from the hospital, the Lord really began to work in my life.  With the help of an amazing church family and an amazing friend the Lord blessed me with, I quit my job and called Freedom House.  I have such a joy, a joy that I have never had before.  Every day I wake up ready to conquer the day, instead thinking of ending my life.  I’m completely off all of my medicine and truly have a relationship with the Lord.  The Lord has completely delivered me from the depression, anxiety and any desire to self-harm.  I have my life back.  Not only did He give me my life back He has restored my relationship with my parents.  He took the desire away to harm myself and gave me a desire to go and share with people what He has done for me.  John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” The enemy almost killed me, but God came and saved me. 

My  name  is  James McNulty.  I  was born and raised in Longmont, Colorado until I was 17 years old and then I moved to Florida.  I started using drugs when  I  was 13, but  I managed to get really good grades and I graduated high school when I was 17.  I went to college, but I didn’t finish and get a degree.  I was “managing” my drug use until I was 22 and then I really went off the deep end or jumped over the cliff, whichever way you want to say it,  I  was a  mess.  Drugs,  partying, women and cars were my life.  I always had good jobs and I never went without, even if I had to hold down three jobs at the same time, but it was never enough.  This went on until I was 27 years old.  I was desperate for a change and I went to Mission Teens in Florida.  This was in 2006.  I had known of the Lord, but I had never taken the time to get a personal relationship with him.  Looking back, I realize that even though I was asking for help, I wasn’t really ready to receive it.  I did complete the program, but I got in a lot of trouble and didn’t really take the opportunity as seriously as I should have.  I tried to good on my own, but I ended up getting in a mess again.  I re-entered the Florida mission in 2010 and completed again, but this time I stayed on for staff training.  I transferred to the mission in Alabama in 2011.  I completed the staff training and left.  I was really doing well this time and for a couple of years, I had my life together.  Then I let the enemy creep in again.  I came back to the mission for the third time.  It is very humbling to have to start over for the 3rd time, but this time it is different.  I realize the miracle that I am.  I realize the miracle of God’s grace on my life.  I realize what a miracle it is to be given a third chance to come to a place to get to know the Lord more.  I finally realize that I cannot run from God or the calling He has put on my life to serve Him.  I heard the call for people to come help pioneer in Missouri and I know that God was speaking to my heart to transfer and help.  I have been here for a couple of months and I am seeing God move daily.  We are all working together to get the projects complete so we can start helping others.  I am right where God wants me and I realize that I am finally in His will for my life.  My favorite scripture is Psalm 56:11-13 “In God I have put my trust, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You.  For you have delivered my soul from death.  Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of living?

Hello, my name is Derrick Mitchell.  I’m 39 years old from Dexter, Missouri.  I was raised by my mother, Joan.  She worked most of the time to provide me and my sisters with everything we needed and with the things we wanted.  I was a really busy kid and I remember thinking that you needed money to get anywhere in life.  My grandma used to take me to church, but the only thing I  really remember is the play where the Roman soldiers beat up Jesus.  I was never taught to rely on Jesus, but I was taught to rely on myself and my own strength to survive.  I started smoking pot, eating mushrooms and dropping LSD at age 13.  I spent a lot of time going to concerts and music festivals and basically doing whatever I wanted to do.  I thought I was living the good life.  Everything progressed and by the age of 18 I was using meth.  I got married and had a son, Triston.  I loved him so much, but not enough to stop what I was doing.  We separated, and I got a place with a couple of guys and we started cooking meth.  It was us against the law.  The drugs, money and women felt empowering to me at such a young age.  I had a really bad reputation and I felt like I had to live up to it.  Being good just wasn’t in the plans.  I went to prison and rehabs over and over.  Nothing could put me on the straight path.  I accepted the lie that this was just how life was and this is just how I am.  I always made decisions based on sex and drugs.  I always wanted to feel good.  If women couldn’t do it, then drugs would.  But I never felt content.  I was truly my worst enemy.  I eventually met a girl and started going to AA meetings.  I stayed sober for 8 years.  One bad decision led me right back into the hell I hated.  In an instant, I lost everything I had worked so hard for.  I fell into a deep depression.  Shame and guilt reared its ugly head and reminded me of who I really was and that if AA wasn’t helping someone like me then I was just hopeless and helpless.  But God had his hand on me and had taken me through so many things all my life, but I was so blind and couldn’t see anything but the struggle.  I wanted to die.  I asked Him to just let me die.  He had a different plan, he sent the County Sheriff’s department to rescue me.  God loved me so much that he intervened and stopped me from hurting myself anymore.  He showed Himself real to me and has been softening my heart ever since the day I called upon Him.  I have always tried to get the right mixture of drugs, money and women to feel good in my own skin.  But His love is my fulfillment!  The rest is counterfeit.  Since I came here to the Freedom House my eyes have been opened to see the spiritual battle I have been in.  I have been trying to fight this spiritual battle with carnal tools and that will never work.  I have always said I’m gonna do better “tomorrow” but tomorrow never came.  Today I can say that I am living each day for Him to the fullest.  Jesus overcame death and the grave and I have the victory through Him!  So today I stay spiritually fed and can overcome this fleshly war.  My stand on scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future.”  I have a future today - I have hope today.  I love Freedom House!

My name is Jason Motter.  I am 46 years old and I am from Millville, New Jersey.  I had a pretty normal childhood.  I am the middle child of divorced parents and we were all raised by my father.  I played a lot of sports growing up like baseball and football.  When I was 13, I got into a fight at school and got hurt.  I was prescribed painkillers and that opened a door that would take a very long time to close.  I took pain medication and chased that high for years until one day in 1999 a family member introduced me to heroin and I immediately became addicted.  I tried to quit a bunch of times, but it never lasted.  I was trying to quit getting high, but that wasn’t the real problem. I was getting high to fill a void in my heart that only Jesus can fill.   What I needed was Jesus.  One day I was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I went to a church event with a friend and cried out to Jesus.  The pastor and my friend asked me if I was ready for the help I so desperately needed and without even thinking, I said yes.  3 days later, I was on my way to the mission. I entered Mission Teens on June 27, 2018 and my life will never be the same.  I felt the love of Jesus and the peace I had been looking for all those years of looking in all the wrong places.  I have found my peace in Jesus.  He had done a mighty work in me. He had totally restored my family relationships that I thought were gone forever.   Today I have gave my life to Him and I seek Him for all the answers, and now I don’t tell God how big my problems are I tell my problems how big my God is. Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him; and He shall direct your paths.”

My name is Kandy Riggs.  I am 49 years old from Sebree, Kentucky.  I am the 8th of 10 children.  When I was growing up, my father was an abusive alcoholic who shot at and stabbed us kids.  I have been married for 30 years and we have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.  I didn’t have my last child until I was 35 years old and I  had to have several surgeries as a result.  The surgeries resulted in pain medications which I became addicted to.  I would stop for periods of time, but I would always end up getting back on the pain meds.  I also got hooked on nerve medications for my anxiety and depression and ended up trying to commit suicide. I got put in jail in 2017 and finally cried out to Jesus to take my depression away.  He heard my cry and opened the door for me to come to Freedom House.  Praise the Lord.  Since I have been here, He has delivered me from my depression and pill addiction by healing all of the hurts I was holding on to.  I have since forgiven all of the people who hurt me as a child.  He has replaced my hurts with Joy.  I can honestly say that even though I went to church, I have learned more about Jesus and the Bible since I have come here, than I knew my whole life. My favorite scripture is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” I have that burned in my heart to witness to others when I complete the program and return home

My name is Dezirae Starcher.  I’m 27 years old, I’m from Akron, OH.  I accepted Jesus in my heart when I was in 2nd grade while attending a Christian school but I never had a relationship with Jesus.  When I was 12 years old I started dating this boy who was an alcoholic.  I made him my god.  I moved in with him when I was 16 years old.  I quickly knew it was a mistake, but my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit that, so for 12 years I put up with emotional, physical and mental abuse.  I finally got away from that, but when I did, I was almost broken beyond repair. I had no confidence and I was taking pain medicine that I was prescribed.  I thrived on working hard and taking care of everybody except myself.  I t was easier not to look at myself by focusing on others. My drug use escalated and by 2012 I was an IV user.  I was using heroin mainly, but I also started drinking and using meth and really anything I could get my hands on.  I lost my job in 2012and my life felt meaningless. My depression got worse and I overdosed 18 times, got in 9 car accidents and 2 motorcycle accidents.  I never broke a bone and always woke up in the hospital after overdosing at the time I thought that it was luck, but now I know the Lord had a plan for my life and He says He will never leave me or forsake me and He never did. (Heb. 13:5).  In March of 2017, I finally got tired of running, stealing, selling myself, being homeless and hating my life.  I knew I needed to change.  I went to Mission Teens in Kentucky.  When I got there, I was 86 lbs., spiritually, emotionally and almost physically dead.  After a week, the Lord started slowly bringing me back to life.  The scabs on my arms disappeared, the light started to push the darkness out of my heart.  He filled me up with joy, love, peace, and hope.  For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged.  I knew I had a purpose in life.  I wanted to live.  In September I transferred to Freedom House.  I have never felt the love of Jesus like this in my life.  I’m so thankful to the Lord for loving me enough to not give up on me.

I’m now in the staff training program at Freedom House and Jesus is using me to help lead others.  Jesus is amazingly more than anything I can ever dream or imagine.  I’m not worthy but He loved me enough to pull me out of my pit and gave me the honor of using me to help others get out of theirs by showing them to build that relationship with Him. Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life, (John 14:6).  If anyone who is reading this needs help; cry out to the Lord, surrender your life to Him and call one of the 19 Mission Teens centers.  You can’t do it alone.  Jesus is the only answer and this program helps you to work on building a personal relationship with Jesus in a safe environment with a big family who loves you and will help you. Jesus who is the ONLY one that can fill the empty space in your heart that we try to fill with everything but Him.  Jesus loves you no matter what.  James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned he will be forgiven.” If your family member or friend needs help keep praying and never lose faith in the Lord- it’s someone else’s prayers that helped me get to the point of surrender.

My name is Michael Steward.  I was raised in California by an amazing single mother, Kathy Dixon who is married to an amazing  Christian husband, Richard Dixon.  I had everything I needed as a child and most of what I wanted.  My life was really good until I started smoking pot my senior year of high school.  I went off to college and kept smoking pot instead of fulfilling my responsibilities.   I soon found myself transporting drugs from California to the school I was “sort of” attending in Oklahoma.  I allowed myself to be a tool used to ruin a lot of peoples’ lives by selling them meth.  I got into some trouble and went on the run.  I blamed all of my problems on the fact that I had never known my Earthly father.  I met him and a couple of years later I started doing the same old things.  After many years of this bad cycle, I realized that not knowing my Earthly father wasn’t really the problem; the real problem was that I didn’t know my Heavenly Father.  I am happy to say that I do know Him now and He has fulfilled everything I was lacking in my life and then some.  God answered my biggest prayer, that my mother would be saved.  Praise the Lord!!  God has given me the vision of being a life-long missionary so I am serving Him as a staff member at Freedom House.  I said “Here I am Lord, send me” and he moved me to Holcomb, MO.  Romans 11:29 “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.”  Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart is.”