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)
Hello I am Kimberly Townsend (Kimmy). I am 54 years old and was born in St. Louis, Missouri. I am a proud mom of 2 very special men, Mathew Alan Trudell age 36 years old and his oldest brother(who is now with the Lord) Mack Andrew Trudell Jr.(1985-2004). Alcoholism and addiction have been a big part of my life since birth. My parents were both alcoholics and although I was never physically abused by either of them, my childhood consisted of watching them constantly verbally and physically abuse each other. I remember fear and intense worry came upon me when 1 was just 5 or 6 years old. I was left alone for long periods of time, so I found myself experimenting with the alcohol that was left in the fridge. I would of pass out wherever I fell. I never got in much trouble when they came home and found me intoxicated, because after all, they had been allowing me to drink since I was 7 years old on occasion. I lost my dad to lung cancer at the age of 14 years old and my mom was self-absorbed and very bitter towards me. I spent a lot of time with my boyfriend which eventually led to the birth of my first-born son when I was 16 years old. Three years later we had our youngest son and our break up due to alcohol and physical abuse to each other. At age 22 years old, I met my husband we were together for over 30 years. When I found my oldest son deceased from self-inflicted shot gun blast(suicide) I blamed myself and God and my addiction became all that mattered to me. It was my best friend and my worse enemy and I didn’t care who I was hurting. I just wanted the suffering of losing of my son to go away. After going to prison 2 times on drug related convictions and then almost a third time in 2022, I came to the realization that I don’t have to live like that any longer. I don’t have to be bound up to a bottle, or a drug, or prison. I longed for healing and freedom from all the things that enslaved me for over 40 years, and I knew that only the Lord, Jesus Christ could set me free if I would just allow Him. And I knew that I needed help allowing Jesus to heal me. John 8:32 tells us… And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. And John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. So, I called Freedom House and entered the program August 24, 2022. Thank You Jesus for hearing my prayers and answering my cries. Thank You for using the program as a vessel to help me get to know you and learn more about your Word, and Your faithfulness, and Your everlasting love. Thank You for forgiveness and grace. I am now healing from all the guilt, heartache, and addiction. I am healing from being abused and delivered from being the abuser. I’m learning the true meaning of the word love and what it really means to love and be loved and feel love. 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.
My name is Brandon Lee Norman. I was born in Missouri in 1994. My mother was an alcoholic and had several abusive boyfriends when I was growing up. She loved me the best she could. I ended up getting put into foster care. My mom passed away when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know how to cope so I began stealing, smoking and drinking. I went to juvenile detention and when I got out, I had the opportunity to go to college for construction engineering technology. I ended up dropping out because I couldn’t stop partying. I robbed a gas station to support my drug habit, as well as robbing my friends, family and random people I met. I went to prison when I was 17 so I basically grew up in the system. I joined a gang and was stabbed and in multiple riots. Somehow, I came out alive. God was always with me. I became the father to 2 children, but I wasn’t submitted to God. I went back to jail for stealing a car and while in prison this time, I overdosed on fentanyl. I died in the jail hospital. I was brought back to life-just like Lazarus. I knew something had to change. I was given the opportunity to come to Freedom House. I have been developing my relationship with Jesus. I am learning the importance of obedience and sharing the Gospel. One thing I have learned is that God has been chasing me my whole life now it’s my turn to chase Him for the rest of my life. I’ve been stabbed, shot at, overdosed, and had my head stomped on, as well as been in multiple car wrecks in cars that I would steal and God still wouldn’t let me die because He has a big plan for me and whatever it is, it’s more important than the plans I have or could ever dream of. Thanks to Freedom House I am learning how to submit to Jesus more and more every day. John 10:10 says that the thief comes to steal, kill, but I have come
to give you life and that more abundantly. The thief is Satan and I have been letting him steal from me and try to kill and destroy me and I have had enough. From now on I am seeking the Lord and the more abundant life He’s talking about.
My name is Brittany Marie Brewer. I am 34 years old from St. Louis, Missouri. My mother worked really hard to raise me and my sister. I was in beauty pageants and dance classes. All of that changed in my early teenage years when my father introduced me to methamphetamines. This landed me in and out of several rehabs over the years. In 2008, I found myself in an extremely abusive relationship. One day in 2014, we were both high, arguing and driving down the road at 90 mph. I grabbed the steering wheel wanting us both to die and ended up with a shattered left rib and a permanent tracheostomy in my throat. For years, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I was very angry with God because I was alive and now had to live with a trac. My drug use got worse and worse. My uncle gave me the number to Freedom House and for some reason I called. When I got here, I realized what I had been running from my whole life…a relationship with Jesus that allowed me to love myself and others. I am now able to look at myself in the mirror and find love for myself. Jesus has turned my life completely around. I now know that He allows everything for a purpose and will use everything that happened in my life for His glory. I also have 3 children that are not part of my life but trust His timing for complete restoration. Psalm 116:8 “You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Thank you for reading my testimony.
Hello everyone, my name is Carrie Mitchell. I am 47 years old. I was born in Memphis, TN but I was raised in New Braunfels, TX. I had a good childhood with good parents that taught me morals and values and the importance of making good grades. I listened and did what they told me to do. When I was 15, I developed a rebellious streak and started drinking. I also seemed to take the partying just a little further and a little further. I had many other drugs involved in my rebellious lifestyle from cocaine to heroin to meth, but drinking was also the primary vice all the way up until the time I came to Freedom House. I had a season in my early thirties where I managed to settle down a bit. I had a beautiful daughter but I soon chose drugs over her and she had lived with her father every since she was 5 years old. She is now 13. I am very grateful to her father for being so good to her and raising her. She is beautiful! A couple of years ago I beat breast cancer and had a million reasons to be thankful and want to live, but again I chose the bottle over gratitude. I ended up in the hospital for what seemed to be the 100th time. I told the nurses that I was not leaving until there was a plan in place for me to go to a long term facility and get the help I needed. They asked me if I was willing to go to a faith-based facility and I agreed. That’s how I ended up in the small town of Holcomb, MO at Freedom House. I did not know Jesus when I got here. After I was here for a week, I had a very bad seizure and was taken to the hospital. They kept me for a few days, and I was told to call my senior counselor every day. I did and she led me to the Lord over the phone. I got saved!! A few days later I was back at Freedom House and I got baptized. Jesus began to show me that I was bitter and angry and prideful and judgmental. He also showed me how much He loved me despite those things and wanted to heal me and give me a new life. I graduated the program but realize now that the last part of the program, my mind was really back in the world. I didn’t like to be told no, so after I graduated and took a 4-6 month staff training commitment, I walked out. It took 3 short weeks for everything to completely fall apart. I was able to see my daughter when I left and that was awesome, but I was also able to destroy what the Lord had restored with me and her and with me and other family members. I cried out to the Lord, and He directed me right back here to finish what He started. When I came back, I had a peace that surpassed everything. I know that His timing is perfect and that He will restore what I tried to break. I have a different attitude. I realize that I don’t have to be perfect but I have to be in His will for my life to have peace. I stand on the verse in Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”
Hi there! My name is Susan Flanagan. I am a 42 year old mother of 3 boys and I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas. My father left when I was 2 years old, so my mother raised me and my brother and sister by herself. We were very poor. I remember that my mom moved us around a lot because she was an alcoholic and we went through several “stepdads.” Because my mom wasn’t very responsible, I felt the need to become more responsible. I was just a little girl and I was put in situations that I wasn’t really ready for. I started drinking and smoking pot when I was 11 years old. By the time I was 19, I was a mother and had bought my own house. I was determined not to move my kids around like I was moved around. I went to college and got married. My husband was very abusive to us and he burnt my house down so that I would have no choice but to stay with him. I finally left, but I had no place to go. Both of my parents had passed away in their addictions. I found myself broke and homeless when I made the decision to call Freedom House. I needed a different life than the one I was living. I came here and found Jesus. I also found a house full of people who love and care about me very much. Jesus is restoring my family back to me. I just love how Jesus cares enough about us to listen to our prayers and answer them. One time I was praying for sausage pizza and the next thing I knew we got 30 sausage pizzas!! I also prayed for some comfortable shoes to wear, and the Lord heard me and showed me how much He loves me by bringing me 2 pair! They are so comfortable, I feel like I am walking on clouds. I know Jesus listens to me and now I am learning how to listen to Him. My favorite scripture is Proverbs 14:1 “A wise woman builds up her house, but the foolish pull it down with their own hands.” I was a fool for thinking I had it all by myself, I needed Jesus in my life. I am very grateful for today.
Hi, My name is Billy Starnes. I’m 43 years old and was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. I was raised by alcoholic parents who would get very angry when they drank. When I was 13 years old, I found marijuana as an escape. This small compromise changed the course of my entire life. By the time I was 17, I had quit school, got a job and was addicted to meth. My job took me all over the United State building mini storage buildings. I was also addicted to the money I was making. The more I made, the more I wanted. I finally quit using drugs for a season when I was 31 and my daughter was born, but then I started back and was out of control. I ended up going to prison. On the way to prison, they let us have Bibles. I was sitting next to an older gentleman who was praying. I remember asking him what he was doing, and he told me he was praying to God that he would make it back to his family. I told him God isn’t gonna help us now and he told me I must not have heard about Paul. Well at that time I had no clue what or who he was talking about, but when I got to Freedom House and started learning the Word, I know that Paul was in prison and God helped him. After I got released, I ended up in Jackson, Missouri doing the same old thing. I saw a man get murdered at work and started walking away. I got picked up by the police and I told them I don’t want to be like this anymore. I went to detox and then came to Freedom House. I have been here for 6 months and now I understand that it is way more than getting off drugs…it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that I want to spend the rest of my life helping others who came out of situations like mine. I want to serve Jesus with all my heart and be the brother, father, and friend that I was made to be in Christ. My favorite Bible verse is 1st John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Thank you and God Bless.
My name is Matthew Montgomery. I am from Springfield, Missouri. I was raised by my father and stepmother in a healthy, supportive home. In my early teenage years, I was always seeking attention and looking for acceptance from others. I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. In the party crowd, I finally felt like I was accepted. I went to college, but eventually got kicked out. Then I had to move back to my parents. I felt very lost, rejected, and confused about my future. I continued to look to the things of this world to fill the void I felt inside. I started working at bars and got introduced to methamphetamine. Meth helped me to escape all the things I didn’t want to deal with. We all know that doesn’t work. When the drugs go away, the problems are still there and worse. I sold and used drugs most of my adult life. My life was filled with chaos, loneliness, and sadness. I knew there was a better plan for my life, but I could never figure it out on my own. In 2018, after my life had spiraled completely out of control- I lost my job, my home and was using daily to try to numb the pain. I finally hit what I thought was rock bottom and thought there was no hope. But God had a different plan for my life! I came to Freedom House, and my life was changed forever. Jesus began to work on my heart and give me a new life in Him. I found the acceptance I was always looking for. I graduated the program and went home. God had a plan for me. I was able to get a job as a leader in a local ministry, helping others the way Jesus helped me. However, I slowly stopped applying the things that I learned at Freedom House from the Word and started backsliding into my old habits. My actions led to me to jail. It was there that I cried out to Jesus to bring me back to Freedom House. He forgave me and showed His grace by allowing me to come back to continue the good work He started in me. I’ve been here for a few months now and I am so grateful. God’s grace has given me another chance to live my life for Him and I’m excited to see what He is going to do. My favorite scripture is Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Hi, my name is Chrisy Ginn. I am 50 years old and from St. Louis, Missouri. I was very depressed at a young age. I remember crying every day at school and feeling very despondent. This feeling has lasted most of my life – BUT GOD! I began to self-medicate in high school and this continued until the time I came to Freedom House. When I was 42 years old, I added methamphetamines to the “medication” and my life spiraled out of control. I found myself homeless and broke and felt like I could never recover. I believed in Jesus, but I saw what He did for others but never felt worthy enough for Him to do anything for me. I was dead spiritually, emotionally, and almost physically. Jesus loves me and He picked me up and brought me to Freedom House where I began to actually heal. I began to see that everything in my life has a purpose for today and that God is going to use all of my paths to help others. I am no longer depressed or anxious. In John chapter 11 Jesus goes to Bethany because His friend Lazarus was sick and had died. Jesus raises Him from the dead and calls Him out of His tomb. This message resonates with me because Jesus has called me out of my tomb and restored me to life. Jesus said to Lazarus’, sister Martha “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” I can see now that by Jesus calling me out of the tomb to live again His glory can be seen by all. This is my purpose now, to show God’s glory and splendor through what my life used to be like and by how it is now. Now I live the resurrected life and I live for Jesus! I have graduated from the program and heard the call to stay on for staff training. I am now a full-time servant and believe that Jesus is going to use me to help others just like me. He has broken the chains that bound me in darkness, and I have found joy in the Lord and in life.
My name is Kerry Maurer. I am 41 years old and was raised in South St. Louis, MO. My mother was only 16 when she had me and my father abused her. They partied and they fought all the time. They separated when I was 5 years old. When they separated, my mom drugs me from boyfriend to boyfriend and husband to husband. When it didn’t work out, we would go back to live with relatives. I changed schools more times than I could count and lacked the stability that I needed growing up. I was allowed to go to my dad’s house on the weekends and he let me do whatever I wanted to do. He started getting high with me when I was only 10 years old. By the time I was 13, I was in a gang. I got my first pistol and was getting high, drinking and stealing cars, robbing people, and using the money to buy candy and play video games. I fell in love with the lifestyle…cars, clothes, money, gold, women…all the things of the world. I wanted the life I saw in the rap videos. This desire led me to spend most of my life in prison. I was partying with my dad on his birthday, and he overdosed and died. I believed this was my fault for many years. I carried the guilt and that led me to a darker place. I now know the truth, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 I came to Freedom House broken and hopeless and very angry. I was shown love here that I never even knew existed. I started to learn about Jesus and His love for us. The more I read His Word, the more healing I received. The Lord was renewing my mind and changing my heart! For the first time in 14 years, I am at peace with my father's passing. I received healing so that I can begin to love myself and love others like Jesus loves us. I now have a purpose and the Lord has shown me that He is going to use me to reach others who are bound in gangs and drugs. I am so grateful that I didn’t die in my sin and have been given this awesome opportunity. The Lord has filled the void that I tried to fill for so many years with all the wrong things. I can’t even explain how my heart feels now. Thank you Jesus for saving and choosing and using me. Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
My name is Kimberly Tomlinson. I was born and raised in Pocahontas, Tennessee. The Lord blessed me with a great family that taught me about Jesus at a young age. I received salvation when I was young and even though I took the wrong path for a while, I know that Jesus was with me keeping me safe the entire time. In high school, I started hanging out with what I thought were the “cool kids”. I can remember just riding around and getting drunk and high with them. I fell in love with drinking. It seemed like I was having the time of my life, and everything started to unravel. I got my first DUI because of my actions but that didn’t even slow me down. I knew the Lord, so I feel like even then I was under constant conviction. I got another DUI and lost my license. Every day I felt disappointment from my parents. I was miserable and I felt constant shame, worthlessness, and misery. I decided to stop drinking and taking pills and switched over to meth. I really fell in love with meth. I got lost in my addiction and I got lost in life. I knew the truth but couldn’t seem to make myself stop. The Lord was convicting me, but I was fighting His Spirit. I got to the point where I felt hopeless and helpless like Jesus wouldn’t forgive me. That is a lie, but I believe it. I made my way to Freedom House because I needed to change. I was in a battle and then I walked through the doors, and everything changed. I began to feel worthy again. I received healing through worship and Bible classes. I have the most joy and peace that I have ever had in my life. My parents are proud and supportive of me again. The Lord has restored the relationship with my family to better than it ever was. My parents are even getting stronger in their faith through my being at Freedom House. Not only did Jesus restore my family, but He also gave me a new family. I never would have dreamed I would have such wonderful brothers and sisters in Jesus as I do here. Thank you so much, Jesus, I love you! “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
My name is Jerrod Hollis. I’m 37 years old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. I grew up with a fear of failure. I always felt the need to be “perfect” and have carried that my whole life. I thank God that now I understand that we all fall short, and Jesus loves us anyway. When I was 14 years old, I started using pain pills to help these feelings of failure. The pills made me not feel any emotion and I just became numb to the whole world. They helped me not feel or care about anything. By the time I was 19 years old, I was completely addicted and on a very bad path. My grandmother, who I had lived with for a few years, died unexpectantly and I was finally able to feel something. My feeling was anger. I was very angry at God for taking her from me. 4 months later I sold some pills to my best friend that killed him. This sent me on a real downward spiral. I went back to the family farm and worked. I worked all the time. Working helped me isolate myself from everyone and everything. If I was working, I didn’t have to face the guilt and shame I carried with me. The farm became my god. By the time I was 24, I was able to farm on my own. In March of 2009, I completely stopped using illegal drugs and was overtook by a new addiction to alcohol and Suboxone. It finally got bad enough that I knew I needed help. I came to Freedom House and left before I was supposed to. My second son was being born and I went to be a dad, but I knew deep down inside I wasn’t ready and there were still things I needed healing from. Leaving was a mistake and I knew it. A year and a half later I found myself wanting to die. I was in the woods with the barrel of a gun to my mouth and my family showed up. They were there just in time. By God’s grace, I agreed to go back to Freedom House and finish what I should have done before. This time I am getting real with Jesus. I am learning how to feel again and love myself and others. I need to understand love to be a good father. God is changing me and renewing me by His Spirit. Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” My past is my past and I cannot change it. No looking back. Jesus has forgiven me and released me from my guilt and shame, resentment and unforgiveness. He is renewing me and bringing me back to who He made me to be. A 23-year addiction has been broken in the name of Jesus. I thank God that it’s all Him and not me.
My name is Nichole Haywood. I was born in Kennett, Missouri and at the age of 3, my mother moved me and my older brother to Ohio. This move took me away from my father, but I was blessed with a loving stepdad that took me in like his own. He was the father I needed in my life. My brother was older than me and was always getting into trouble. I always felt like my mother loved him more than she did me. He began raping me when we moved to Ohio. This went on until I was 8 years old. My stepdad caught him abusing me and sent him off to juvenile. I feel like my mother always blamed me for this. She became
depressed and stayed depressed. I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I know that the continued sexual abuse opened doors in my life that I have always struggled with. I began to use drugs, alcohol, and sex at a young age to hide all the pain I had. The pain of being raped, abandoned and needing the love of my mother. When I was 23 years old, around Thanksgiving, I woke up and found my mother died in my front yard…she had shot herself in the chest. I couldn’t believe what was happening and I let my life spiral out of control. I think I blamed myself for things I could not control. I was so destructive that I finally came to the end of myself. I decided to do something different and search for healing. I came to Freedom House and the healing began. I needed Jesus to fix my life. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the week of Thanksgiving. Every year it seems like I couldn’t handle the holiday and depression would set in and I would make bad choices. This year, I started praying for the Lord to just get me through. He is so faithful, not only did He get me through Thanksgiving, He turned my sorrow into joy. I knew that only He could answer that prayer and do that just for me. Because of that, I know that I know that I know that He is always with me. He just wants us to be honest with our struggles and ask for help. Thank you, Jesus. Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Jesus gives me His strength to overcome evil with good daily. He forgave me and He loves me so now I know how to love others and finally love myself
My name is Jordon Daniel Rogers. I am 26 years old, and I am from Puxico, Missouri. My parents got divorced when I was young, and it really affected me. They both got remarried, but it was still never the same. I put all the hurt deep inside and turned to drugs instead of dealing with it. By the time I turned 18, I was an active meth user. The devil had me right where he wanted me. I lost family relationships and burnt every bridge I came across. I got “clean” for a while, but I still didn’t have what I really needed-a relationship with Jesus. My mom passed away and I ended up right back in addiction. Eventually, I tried to kill myself. I woke up in the hospital and knew there had to be a better life for me. I went directly from the hospital to Freedom House. I got saved and was on cloud nine for a while, but I let pride run me out the door right back into the life I was so desperate to leave behind. I came back to Freedom House, and they never judged me, they all just accepted me back with open arms. I finally have surrendered to my lot in life – serving God! There is no place I would rather be doing it than right where I am. I have had so many faith boosters along the way. One day I was praying for soda of all things. I just really wanted a soda. Later that same day, someone donated like forty 2 liters of soda. I thought I wanted the soda, but what I really needed to know was that Jesus was listening to me. He heard my prayer and sent the soda. I know this is not an easy road, but in the end, it will be worth it. That’s what I want others to know. Life is hard but Jesus is right there, listening and He loves us and wants better for us. Besides the soda, I have received healing in my body, restored family relationships, a brand-new hope, and an understanding of who I am in Christ. I really can’t put into words how grateful I am for Jesus saving me and giving me a brand-new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, and a new life has begun.” Thank you Jesus for giving me a new life!!
My name is Katie Pitts. I am 32 years old from Kennett, MO. I had a good childhood never wanting for anything. My mother took me to church every time the doors were open. I was saved at a young age and had relations with Jesus but not a relationship. Growing up, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and rejection issues, In my later teenage years, I discovered alcohol and liked the way it made me feel, In reality, I ended up in bondage and it made the things I was experiencing worse, I used alcohol to fill a void but ended up with a lot of brokenness and burnt bridges After I dug a hole I didn’t think I could get out of, I reached out to my mother, She directed me to Freedom House where I found my best friend Jesus Christ. When I put in my application, I knew I was doing the right thing because peace came over me that I hadn’t had in a long time. Since I have been here Jesus has broken down the walls I had built up. Instead of feeling rejected, I am experiencing His love. I have joy when I wake up and he has delivered me from the things I suffered from for many years because in Him is Freedom. He is there even when we don’t think so. I remember one day I prayed and asked for Him to let me know He was hearing me. Later, that night a lady visited Freedom House and said the Lord told her to tell me that He hears me and is listening. That was an amazing faith booster. He shows up every day in this way. The scripture that has been with me since I started down this path is John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I am so grateful and thankful for everything He is doing in the lives of the people here and the hope He gives us.
My name is Whitney Burnette. I am 29 years old from Wynne, Arkansas. I grew up in a great household with parents who made sure I never wanted or needed anything. I always had the nicest of nice, a lot of friends, and did really well in school. But even though I had all of those things I still struggled a lot with finding my identity and being confident with who I was. So, at the age of 14, I started using drugs and alcohol and it was like instantly I felt comfortable in my own skin. That first time I used turned into 15-year opiate addiction and downward spiral I threw myself into constant chaos and could never bring myself out of that pit. I felt like because of all of the destruction I caused to my life as well as my family’s life that I deserved to die a drug addict. On May 1st, 2021, it finally clicked that something had to change for me. That afternoon I pulled on the property at Freedom House and knew that the Lord was about to change my life drastically. I had a sense of peace that I had never experienced. I have always known of Jesus, but I had never had an intimate relationship with Jesus until I came to Freedom House. Since coming to know the Lord I have learned how to love myself only after understanding the magnitude of His love for me. About 6 weeks after entering the program I was given adoption papers for my 5-month-old son. That was the hardest situation to go through but in the midst of it, I learned to run to the Lord and lay all of my troubles at His feet because He cares! One day, I was having a rough day and prayed, “Lord some avocados would lift my spirits.” And He delivered! We ate avocados for about 3 weeks after that. Him answering that prayer showed me that He hears me and cares about me and built my faith tenfold. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” The Lord chose me and pulled me out of my mess, out of all-consuming darkness, and into the light. He could do nothing else for me and I’d want to spend eternity praising Him. Today, because of Jesus, I wake up with a purpose and a hope for my future that I’ve never been able to find anywhere else before. I have faith in Jesus and that He will restore those things I’ve lost as He sees fit. Today, because of Jesus, I wake up loving my new life!
My name is Albert Ellis Gardner, and I was born in Nashville, TN in 1977. When I was 8 years old, my parents got divorced and my home life was violent. I was lost and looking for something that my mom couldn’t give me and I turned to the streets. By the time I was 13, I was in a gang. Being in a gang gave me a false sense of peace like I was finally part of something, and I fit in somewhere. I also felt like I always had to prove myself. The streets will make your heart cold and hard like a rock. In the end, I found nothing but pain and hopelessness. The street life and my gang would finally turn on me and try to take my life. I really felt like I was going to die on March 26th. I ended up sleeping on the Vanderbilt campus because I felt like I would be safe there. I awoke to the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life. I looked up and saw a tall cathedral in the sky and realized I was hearing the sound of church bells. At that moment I knew it was God speaking to me. I felt it all over my body. Just a feeling of peace that I will never forget. That night I prayed to God to forgive me for my sins, and I told him that I wanted to go to Heaven and that I did not want to die in my sin. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. His Word says that he will leave the 99 to rescue the one and that day…the 1 was me! I could not run anymore, and I had nowhere to run to, but little did I know, Jesus had a plan for me and everything in my life was leading me to where I am today. I had to lose everything to gain everything and that’s how He came to me to show me His power and His love and His mercy pulling me out of my mess and delivering my soul from death. My cousin had been to a mission teens center, and I reached out to him for help. He dropped me off at Freedom House and my life is changed. I knew the moment I got here that I was feeling a love that I had never experienced before. Jesus has done so much for me. I have 4 kids that were taken away because of the life I was living. I was told that I had permanently lost all parental rights. I am currently in an appeal process and cannot wait to see God’s restoring power in this situation. I give God all glory for everything. “For you delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” Psalm 116:8
Hello, my name is Omar Mitchell, and I am from St. Charles, Missouri. I grew up and in a very loving but strict household. My parents were great to us but volatile to each other. I grew up seeing them argue a lot and it really affected me. I was full of joy on the outside, but anger on the inside. I started stealing things because I wanted attention. It started with candy and escalated to joy rides in stolen cars. By the time I was 20 years old, I had 6 felonies. I spent 3 years in prison and came out looking for anything to fill the void and suppress all the anger I still had inside of me. I turned to drugs but still felt empty. I started going to a church and the Lord revealed Himself to me. Unfortunately, I was not ready to fully surrender because I was still a slave to sin. I went from job to job, failed relationship to failed relationship, all the while the anger is dwelling deep down inside of me. The off-and-on drug use and off-and-on seeking of the Lord was a recipe for disaster. I ended up in a volatile relationship just like the one I witnessed as a child. We were both addicts and I was physically abusive to her which landed me in prison for 5 more years. I spent half of my prison time going to church and reading my Bible but when I got released, I went right back to the ways of the world. I felt like the Lord had delivered me, which He had, but I chose to pick up the old habits. I met the mother of my daughter, and she could see I was broken. She would encourage me and point me to the Lord, but I was still living a lie. After about a year everything came out. First the drug use. So I began to call upon the Lord for deliverance from my strongholds. The conviction was too much to bear, and I just did not want to give it up. I just kept fighting and fighting with it, running from God and His call on me. I came to Mission Teens for a few weeks at the end of 2019 and got a taste and saw that it was good, but the world pulled me away for another failed attempt at trying to do it on my own without the Lord leading my steps. 2020 was just a whole lot of bumping my head over and over trying to live life under my own strength but I remembered this one particular scripture that God kept bringing back to my remembrance in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” So, I did, I prayed. The Lord heard my prayers and blessed me with my daughter. Then, I got complacent and crashed again. I was done waving the white flag in surrender…I came on back to Freedom House. I knew it was time-literally. As soon as I got here my watch broke and I knew how necessary it was to use time wisely here, so I started praying for a new watch and within 48 hours the Lord blessed me with a new one through one of His shepherds here at the house. I am so humbled and grateful the Lord kept me and saved me-never letting go while I was out there in my mess.
My name is Steven Lee Martin. I was born in 1981 in St. Louis, MO. I spent my childhood around severe alcoholics. My parents would argue a lot. When they were at work, my brother and I spent time with my grandparents. They would drink and argue a lot. I can remember all the way back to 5 years old. My grandpa was a security guard. He would come home from work every day with a case of beer and a bottle of alcohol and get drunk and then get mean. I guess I just assumed that was what men were supposed to do. It seems like I was always getting into trouble. I always wanted to take things apart to see how they worked but I would never put them back together. I got a girlfriend who lived just up the road. Her parents were also alcoholics. We would wait until they got drunk and passed out and then steal beer from them. We never got caught and I really fell in love with alcohol. I loved feeling numb. At a young age, I began putting my love for alcohol and its effects before anyone or anything else. I fought a lot in school, and they put me in special classes and then eventually a special school. I felt like no one really wanted to help me, so I dropped out of school as soon as I turned 16. By this time, I had started adding cocaine and hallucinogens to my alcohol habit. I have been in and out of jails and insane asylums, rehabs, etc. all of my life. I have hurt a lot of people in numerous ways. I’ve done nothing positive with my life and I have always left a trail of pain and misery behind me. God has been trying to get my attention for a very long time. I’ve just been running crazy being selfish. I’ve gone to a couple of different programs and studied the Bible on and off for years, but something would happen, and I would start drinking again. The last program I was in, I left before completing to meet up with my girlfriend. We drank together and I ended up arrested for domestic violence. I cried out to God in jail and surrendered my will. It was the hardest, and the best thing I’ve ever done. The judge allowed me to come to Freedom House. I was determined that this time would be different because I am finally surrendered. I am figuring out things about myself and through Jesus, I am being healed. So, if you are reading this and know someone or you yourself are struggling with addiction, come get away from the world and let us love you while you build a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s only through Jesus that we find out what and who we really are and are supposed to be. Praise God!! I just want to thank Freedom House for taking me in and Jesus for helping me figure some things out about myself. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.”
My name is Jessi Kamper. I’m 29 years old and I am a current resident of Kennett, MO. I grew up in a very loving household. I have an older sister and 2 older brothers. My parents always showed us lots of love growing up and they are still married. I grew up in church and my parents would have us there every time the doors were open. When I was thirteen years old, I prayed the prayer, walked the aisle at church, and gave my heart to Jesus. But really, nothing about my life changed, nothing about me was different. When I was around 22 years old, I hurt my back, and every doctor I went to couldn’t tell me what was wrong, so they ended up sending me to a pain clinic and that’s where my addiction to opiates started. I was put on so many medications that didn’t even help my pain, but I sure liked how it made me feel. From then on, my life became only about drugs, how I could get them when I could take them. It was all I thought about, it completely consumed my life. I went to rehab, but it didn’t help me for very long. I stayed sober for a few months and then relapsed when I had to have surgery and was back to using full time. When I was 28, I was told that because of my ovaries being so diseased from a disorder I had that I would have to have a hysterectomy. So, in November 2020 I had a hysterectomy and while I knew this was a big decision, I didn’t know how deeply it would affect me. After having it done, I became extremely depressed and suicidal. I constantly stayed high on pain pills to try and forget and numb the pain that was in my heart. So, on January 8th, I went to my older brother, Matthew, and broke down and told him I needed real help. We sat in his kitchen and called Freedom House and I entered the program on the 20th of that month. And it has absolutely been the best decision of my life. I now have an intimate relationship with Jesus that grows stronger each and every day. I no longer believe all the lies the enemy tried to make me think were true. I’m worthy, I’m loved, and I am a child of God. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 All I want to do now is serve the Lord and tell people what he’s done for me, what He’s delivered me from, and the future I now have because of His love for me. Thank you Freedom House for leading me to Jesus.
My name is Kenna Cashion. I am 32 years old. I was raised by a stay-at-home mom and a truck driver dad. I was always called a “miracle” baby. I was the first child of their marriage and came later in their lives. We always thought our family looked a little like the Brady bunch. My mom had 4 children from a previous marriage and so did my dad. Being a “miracle” baby, they had given me to the Lord in their hearts before I was even born. The enemy has always been out to get me and my entire family. My dad was taken from us at a young age. I found comfort in a husband and 3 wonderful children of my own. The comfort was short-lived. I never had a relationship with Jesus, and I found myself trying to be someone I wasn’t. I had my own problems, but I was trying to hold my family and my ailing mom up on my own strength. The enemy used all of this to take me down a deep dark path. I was hurting and turning to anything I could to numb myself and not deal with life. I came to the point of hopelessness where I felt like I failed everyone that I loved and that I was worthless. I know that was a lie from the enemy. What I really am is LOVED. A child of God! Worthy! I finally got to the point of crying out to Jesus for help. He heard my cry and put people in my path that directed me to Freedom House. I have completed the program and stayed on to help others find the love and purpose for their life by showing them what Jesus did for me. I finally have a family that loves me and helps me when I fall short. I am still a work in progress, learning each and every day who I am in Christ. I know John 10:10 in the depths of my heart. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” Praise Jesus!!
My name is Brian Nix. I am 45 years old and was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. My parents raised my sister and I in a Christian household and taught us right from wrong according to the Bible. I was very involved in church and sports and couldn’t have asked for a better childhood. When I was about 13 years old, I started drinking with my friends and over time it let to dabbling with drugs. At 19, I entered the Coast Guard for 4 years. I was blessed with getting to see the country, but I also learned how to drink and party and still work. When I came home to Alabama, drinking was no longer enough. I started using pain pills. In my twisted thinking, I thought this was the answer to everything… I could get high, work all day with no hang over. I am very strong willed and prideful so if I put my mind to anything, I could make it happen. Because I couldn’t control things, it led me down a very dark road which ended up costing me everything…my job, my house and eventually my will to live. I came to the end of myself and the Lord put someone in my path that told me about Mission Teens. I ended up going to the ministry in Crossville, TN in 2008. While there, God filled me with His Spirit, His love and knowledge and understanding of His word and restored my family relationships. But me being me, I wanted things my way. I wanted my old life back without the drugs. I now know that is impossible. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The old me was gone, but I didn’t want to let him go. I put my head down and tried to fill my life with things that would make me happy…wife, great job, house, trucks, boat and on and on. I was still missing that total surrender to Jesus which was all that could truly fulfill me. I walked away from the Lord and got further and further into darkness. He let me go my own way by my own free will. When I came to the mission in 2008, I really just didn’t want to be homeless. But God wanted ALL if me. My whole life can be summed up like this…32 years before I met Jesus, the 12 years of fighting a total surrender to Him and the past year and a half (since coming to Freedom House) of living my life for Him. I gave it all to Him. I am know living my life of surrender in peace of not knowing what the future holds but knowing the One who holds it. “Whatever you want me to do Lord, here I am.” To be used by God, He has to have all of you. So, He let me go until I was completely broken, knowing that He is the only way. John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The freedom and life I have always wanted can only be found in Him. For the first time in my life, I am content where I am and what I am doing. I have nothing and in Jesus I have everything I ever wanted. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and also for giving me the chance to be here to give back and point people to the only one that can help, Jesus!
My name is Bradley D. Boyer. I am 48 years old and was born in St. Louis, MO where I stayed until I was 5 years old and we moved to Bakersfield, CA. I pray that the Lord gets the glory in this testimony and that it reaches and touches the person it is intended to. When my family moved to California, it was all a crazy lifestyle. My father let me drink and smoke pot with him. One day I mentioned that to his boss and I began to get beat by my father. My dad also beat my mother and that bothered me way worse than getting hurt myself. My father was determined to make me as mean as he was, but even as a young child, I knew that was never going to happen. I can remember longing for the day that I would get big enough to fight him back. I know the Lord had His hand on me at an early age because I can remember knowing that if I didn’t leave, my father was going to kill me. I ran away and ended up being put in foster care for about 3 years. I went from house to house because I would always fight and get in trouble because that was what I had been taught to do. I remember a woman at the children’s home who prayed. I thought I can pray too. I prayed for Jesus to let me see my family again and He heard my cry and answered my prayer. After I was reunited with my mother, I ended up turning to drugs. This started when I was 11 years old. I got married when I was 22 years old and had a son and a daughter. I tried to do “good”, but I ended up going to prison for manufacturing meth. After I got out, I again tried to do “good” by going to AA meetings, but I was still lacking the one thing I needed most…a relationship with Jesus. I went back to jail for 45 days in December of 2015, while there I found out that my mom had stage 4 Hep C cirrhosis. I didn’t know if she was even going to live. I decided to go to church while I was in jail. I came across a newsletter, just like the one you are reading now. I knew that I needed the change I was reading about. I needed to learn how to live a different life. I needed Jesus. When I got out of jail, I called the number and entered a Mission Teens center in Marked Tree, Arkansas where I served for 3 ½ years. My own children needed Jesus too. I began to pray for them both and God heard my cry. My son turned his life around and is living for the Lord and my daughter got saved too. Hallelujah!! My mother got a liver transplant and is also doing well. So, no matter what your life has been, Jesus loves you. When He calls you, answer His call. He allowed me to be completely broken and humbled so that He could build me up. The very first verse I learned was John 15:5 ““I am the vine, and you are the branches if a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit but apart from me he can do nothing.” My eyes were opened to the fact that up to that point in my life, my failures were mine to own. I am blessed to be connected to the Son of God who bought me at a blood price. His mercy is unending.
My name is Treyton Hartle. I am 22 years old from Bloomfield, MO and this is how Jesus turned my life around. On April 1st, 1998 I was born into a great family with loving parents who knew the Lord. Following that was a life in church that was never appreciated like it should have been. At 12 years old I gave my life to the Christ at church camp…then came high school. The work was easy. I wasn’t good enough to play college sports, and I found out I loved having fun. This led to a party life- style that consisted of racing, smoking weed and my eventual downfall, drinking. Almost completely forgetting my promise in Jesus, I graduated and went to work. Smoking weed while living with friends was my life. Eventually experimenting with other drugs that the enemy used to bring on anxiety, depression, and a discontentment with life. About 10 days after my 21st birthday I took a drink that changed everything. I was instantly sucked into a lie that said it fixed all my problems. In just 7 dreadful months I had run myself completely out of hope. I cried out in desperation to the “God of my youth” knowing that I was on deaths door and He answered. On November 25th I entered the 8-10 month discipleship program at Freedom House. In less than a week I was surrounded by hope and love that I had forgot the Lord offered. Turning from the ways of the world I pressed on, hungry and desperate for the fire I felt growing inside me. Breezing through the program, obedient and a hard worker, I never once thought I was missing something. I fell in love with Jesus but still full of pride I could not understand why the Lord wanted me to stay on for staff training. Knowing without a doubt He told me to, I took the commitment angry and bitter without seeing the blessing God had in store for me. After 3 months the National Guard called me for active-duty orders and being thrown back into the world I instantly knew I had missed something. I lost the peace and within 3 weeks I had a second DWI combined with shame and guilt that I could feel dragging me back into that old lifestyle. By the grace of God, I was able to come back to Freedom House. I was now facing a problem…what had I missed? Why did coasting for 8 months, doing what I was told and staying in the Word not working? I was mad, upset and confused. Still blinded with pride however I was mad at the program for not working. I was still seeking what Treyton and the world wanted, a wife, a family, a house and money. The things of the world grew up around me like a rose while the thorns choked the Word out of me. After being broken down by my own anger, reality sunk in. Something I had heard plenty of over the past year. “The program doesn’t save anyone.” This amazing house of refuge filled with love that had protected me from the world for so many months had become my foundation. The pursuit of not being an alcoholic had taken precedence over my relationship with Jesus. The change I was looking for could not be found in classes, fellowship or work. Putting my own desires to the side looking in the mirror and surrendering to God’s will comp0letely is the only thing that can work. My life before the mess is not what I needed, and I now realize that. That Treyton was always on his was to falling. I had to seek first the kingdom of God, not out of selfish ambition, but from a grateful heart. Jesus never meant to only be my salvation, but my friend and foundation, the only solid foundation. Neither family, friends, self-will or even a great program like Freedom House could satisfy what I was looking for. But God sent His son to die for me and for you! All the temporary happiness in the world can’t compare to the eternal joy the Lord has in store for us. That’s just it, Freedom House pointed me to Jesus. It was my choice to accept what He had to offer. We all have a choice, and the answer was and is and always will be Jesus!
My name is Trace Cohn. I’m 30 years old and grew up in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I grew up in church and had a great family and wanted for nothing. I got introduced to drugs and alcohol and my childhood innocence quickly turned to despair. Everything that could go wrong did. I ended up getting kicked out of school in the 8th grade and had to go to jail because of marijuana. You would have thought that jail would have scared me enough to straighten up, but it didn’t. When I got out, I spiraled deeper into addiction. By the time I was 16, I was doing anything and everything to feed my addiction. Getting high was all I cared about and I deeply hurt the people who loved me. June 7th, 2008 is a day I will never forget. I overdosed on methadone and almost lost my life, BUT GOD had other plans. Early that morning my parents found me blue and not breathing and foaming at the mouth…they called the ambulance and they rushed me to the ER. Five days later, God woke me up out of a coma. God has brought me through prison terms and multiple overdoses, so I know His plan and purpose for my life is huge. On June 5, 2020 I made the decision to come to Freedom House and on June 7th, 2020 exactly 12 years after my big overdose I rededicated my life to the Lord. Since being at Freedom House, my relationship with Jesus has been better than I could think or imagine. The love that I always searched for, I have found. The joy I’ve so badly wanted, I now have. The family relationships that I thought were broken, are now fixed. The Lord has truly exceeded all of my expectations. He has changed my life completely. I graduated Freedom House on February 5th and made the decision to start staff training. After a lot of prayer, the Lord made it clear to me that He wanted me to stay. I want to show others how amazing and merciful Jesus really is. Through Christ, there is hope for the hopeless, joy for the sad and love for the unlovable. My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Today, I truly feel set free. The weight of the world is no longer on my shoulder because I no longer live for the world. I live for the Lord. I’m a new creation of infinite worth. This is what the Lord has done for me.
My name is Marissa Lesley. I am 43 years old from Dexter, Missouri. I have been on and off drugs since I was 12 years old. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere and I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem issues. I came from a good family. My parents divorced when I was young, but they were both good and loving parents. Neither one of my parents ever had addiction problems. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd in school and that was my first step towards my downfall. By the age of 16, I was introduced to meth and by the age of 17- I was using meth through a needle. The needle has been a demon in my life for a very long time. I have been In and out of prison three times, went to thirteen rehabs over the years, and I have no idea how many outpatient drug classes I’ve been to. I’ve had years before where I could remain clean and free to drugs, but as soon as pressures came, I ran back to the only thing I knew of to “help me get through”. I always ran back to drugs when things get too stressful or something traumatic happened. I’m tired of running to that temporary high and that false security. I am no longer a runner-I am a child of God! I’ve been here at Freedom House learning to TRUST JESUS in all things big and small. It’s not about reading the Bible here and there and just feeling better for a moment. It’s about having a relationship with Jesus. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. Since I’ve been here my mom has been healed of rectal cancer, my oldest daughter, Aylah has given birth to my first grandson and He is restoring my relationship with my two younger children. I serve a big God and He is a God of restoration. I thank Him every day for saving me out of my mess and leading me here to Freedom House. It has changed my life in so many ways that it’s hard to even try to put it in words. He knew exactly what I needed and when I needed it. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways says the Lord for as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
My name is Eric Wood. I am 26 years old from Dexter, Missouri. I’ve always had the feeling that I was going to do something “big” in this life, even though I grew up feeling rejected by my father who was very abusive and controlling because he was addicted to pain medication. I always felt like he treated me different than he treated my 2 older brothers. I never felt loved. My father overdosed and we found him dead in our dining room when I was 15 years old. At the time, I guess I felt happy and relieved that he was dead. I decided right then that I would never let anyone else treat me the way he did. I became extremely rebellious and was out of control. I started hanging out with the wrong people and doing drugs. I finally felt accepted, but it was all false. It took me down a very dark path. I ended up in juvenile and on probation and in and out of several rehabs. When I turned 18, I got caught and tried as an adult and the cycle continued for 3 prison terms. I never thought I would be the person I had become. I went to a church and someone told me about Freedom House. I came here and completed the program. The Lord told me to stay on for staff training and I did. Shortly after I graduated, during my staff training commitment, I was released from my probation. I was supposed to be on probation for 3 more years, but the Lord was showing me favor. That’s when I allowed the devil to creep back into my thought. I was constantly thinking about how free I was from the laws of man. I was judging everything and everyone around me, just waiting for a reason to leave the mission and my commitment. I got corrected and that’s all it took. I left and fell flat on my face. I came back to let the Lord complete the good work He started in me and complete the commitment I had made with the Lord. The Lord continues to work on my pride. I don’t like it, but He knows what I need. I always knew I was going to do something “big” and now I am! I get to see miracles each and every day. I finally realize that life without Christ is meaningless. My family restoration has begun, and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store. I have made so many mistakes, but I am forgiven. I get to witness lives being changed because of God’s grace and love for all of us. Romans 8:37-39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
My name is Jacob Barnes. I was born in 1997 in Jackson, Tennessee. When I was young, my parents moved us to Kennett, Missouri because my father was from there. My parents were young, and my dad couldn’t handle the pressure, so he drank and used drugs and hung out with the wrong people, often leaving me and my mom and sisters to fend for ourselves. Eventually, my parents split up and my mom ended up moving all of us in with her boyfriend in a nice house. This didn’t last long because he too had a drug addiction. I really feel like despite all of this, I had a great childhood, and my mom did the best she could. When I was in 8th grade, I started hanging out with older kids and was introduced to marijuana and K2, a synthetic form of cannabis. I got kicked out of school and everything just got worse and worse until I ended up being a full-blown meth addict. I was 18 years old and had felonies for 11 counts of burglary. I was in jail for a long time and when I got out, I went right back to my old ways and ended up right bac k in jail. I went to a rehab program through the jail where I got introduced to Jesus. I graduated the program and planned on doing right this time. In just 3 days, I got my girlfriend pregnant and on the 3rd day, my sister came and told me that my dad had died. Even though he had his struggles in this life, he was my best friend. I didn’t know how to process this, and my life spiraled out of control. My mom reached out to a co-worker who encouraged her, telling her that Jesus was my only hope. A week later I was at Freedom House. Immediately Jesus started to work in my life. The overwhelming love and hope the house g ave to me was something I had never felt anywhere else. I decided to plant my feet and fight the good fight with Jesus Christ by my side and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. Jesus has changed my life through being at Freedom House. He has filled a vo id I have had my entire life. The scripture I love the most is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed, the Lord your god is with you wherever you go.”
My name is Courtney Shipley. I am 28 years old. I was born in Southern California to loving parents and grew up in church. Since I grew up in a good home and never struggled with drugs, I really didn’t think I had a testimony for a long time. Yes, my life felt lonely and empty, but I had no idea why. I was married to my high school sweetheart, we owned a home, we both drove brand new cars, and we both had respectable jobs that paid well. On the outside, my life lacked nothing. Yet, week after week I continued to see a therapist for my laundry list of mental health diagnoses. Month after month, I continued to fill prescriptions for antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, anti-psychotics, and sleeping pills. Nothing seemed to help. My psychiatrist and my therapist both seemed content with how I was doing but I Since, I remember I was absolutely miserable. My life felt completely empty, I lacked purpose in every sense of the word. Most of all, however, I remembered how women in church used to talk about how their relationship with Jesus brought meaning and hope into their lives, but I lacked integrity. I decided to try to get back into church. My husband and I began attending church with my family every Sunday, but I still craved more. I also began to get involved with a ministry that focused on reaching out to women that struggled with depression and anxiety. Ironically, it seemed like the more I got involved with church and this ministry, the more strain it put on my marriage. Slowly but surely my husband and I began to drift farther apart as the Lord started to take more of a priority in my life. This left me even more confused than ever before. Wasn’t my life supposed to get better the closer I got to Jesus? Wasn’t my marriage supposed to get easier? What was I doing wrong? That’s when I decided that the Lord had nothing to offer me, the church had nothing to offer me, and living a responsible life had nothing to offer me. If I couldn’t be happy, what was the point of going to school, working a job with crazy hours, and constantly trying to be perfect? Since I was already miserable, I decided to throw out the structure that controlled every aspect of my life and live in a way to try to satisfy myself in any way I could. In a matter of months, I was divorced, jobless, car-less and on the verge of being homeless with to desire to be alive. That’s when I decided to give Freedom House a try. I figured I would stay for a few months to detox from all of the psych meds I was on then begin the hunt for a new psychiatrist. However, the Lord began to work for me the second I walked on property. I did not experience a single symptom from coming all of the cocktail of psych meds I was on and I was able to sleep the first night I was here. Facing the person I allowed myself to stoop down to had been the most difficult thing I have ever done but I have stood on Exodus 14:14 in my times of distress, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Being at Freedom House has allowed me to build a strong foundation with Jesus, which is exactly what I have been searching for from the beginning.
My name is Jamie Black. I’m 38 years old. I grew up in a small town, Russellville, Alabama. I had a good life with a very loving mother that was always there for me and worked really hard to provide for me. When I was 4 years old, my father took his own life as a result of drug use, so I never really had a dad in my life. My mother has 3 brothers and they were the ones who really raised me to be a man. Like I said I had a good life, always played sports in school but never really finished anything I started. When I was 13, I started smoking pot and drinking. I always knew that there was something more to life but never really could put my finger on it. By the time I was 16, I was partying every weekend and I dropped out of sports. By the time I was 18, I had dropped out of school. Things really got bad after that and I found myself doing things that I said I would never do. When I was 23, I gave my life to Jesus and also became a father. I realized that God had called me to preach, but the stress of being a dad and listening to the Lord proved to be too much and I turned back to the ways of the world. I spent a long time running from the Lord and His calling on me. In 2018 I was arrested for trafficking meth and I really thought I was going to prison this time. I sat in jail for 4 months calling out to God to help me. God moved and softened the heart of the judge by allowing me to come to Mission Teens. I’ve been in Mission Teens for al most 2 years now and love what God does every single day. The best thing God has done for me was sending me to Freedom House. God has put me under some awesome men and women of God to show me how to really serve and to walk in my gifts He has given me. I would like to say this Galatian 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ” That has really been something that I stand on because even when we think He’s not there or we don’t feel like nothing is happening He shows up and shows out. It’s not always on our time but on His time and He’s always on time!
My name is Courtney Freer. I am 29 years old from Piggott, Arkansas. Growing up, I had a good childhood with 2 siblings, and we were raised by a single mother. My mom tried to make sure that we always had everything we needed. I was raised up going to church, but I just never developed that personal relationship with Jesus that I needed. I started smoking pot in the 6th grade and continued until I was 17 years old. I
used to dream about going to college and making something of my life but I threw all that away so I could hang out with friends and party. I got pregnant when I was 18 and my mother also got cancer. She was very sick and kept saying that she wanted to live long enough to see her grandchild born and the Lord was very gracious to grant that to her. She died when my son was 6 months old. After she died, I moved in with
my son’s grandparents. I was trying to get on the right path and even had another child. I found out when my first child was 10 months old that he was autistic and was going to need special attention. I began to question the Lord, in a state of pity as to why He took my mother and why my son had problems. I know now that God is no respecter of persons Me, my children and their father moved into our own apartment and I thought we were going to be a family, but within a month, I started using meth. It really got a hold of me fast and no amount was ever enough to satisfy me. I eventually turned into an IV meth addict. All we did was fight and this was not good for the children. So, my kids grandparents got custody of my children. I lost my home for the next three years I just spiraled out of control until I heard about Freedom House. I came to Freedom House 11 months ago. I completed the program and have stayed on to give back that love which was shown to me. I have gotten a relationship with Jesus that I so desperately needed. I have gained a family here that I longed for. I tried to step out of His will and do things that I thought I needed to do and He has quickly shown me that I was not ready and today I am allowing Him to continue to heal me and raise me up, standing on the promise that one day I will be ready to be mother to my boys. Today I love the Lord. He has truly changed my life and I give Him thanks every day for it. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.
My name is Ian Miller. I am 39 years old from Taft, California. I was born to a very good family and brought up in a very loving and somewhat sheltered environment. My family is a very multi-racial melting pot, so I was raised to love and accept others. I was raised Catholic and had my first Holy communion with people I am still friends with to this day. I knew God from a very young age and walked with Him to the best of my ability and understanding until about the 7th grade, when I discovered drugs and girls. I became rebellious and found comradery and acceptance amongst the outcasts, who seemingly were not so judgmental and condemning. All the “rich kids” who “did no wrong”, seemed very dark and condescending and although we remained friends, I floated into a less sheltered life. Discovering drugs, sex, lawlessness, and open rebellion, I also experienced things I did not approve of, racism, violence, cruelty, and abuse. This put distance between my family and I as well as my friends. At the age of 25, I had my first child and turned to God to direct my path. I got clean and attended church 4 to 5 days a week, helping out with formal dinners, cleaning up the sanctuary, serving at banquets or setting up for fund raisers. I was blessed with a good job and ultimately with what would become my wife and future mother of my children. After building a life together, my wife and I drifted apart, which destroyed me as a person. I became homeless in the process and lost all desire to live. I was sent to Freedom House by my family, but left when I was served divorce papers, which made everything even worse. Calling out to Jesus, and on the brink of death, I reached out for help. This time it was my decision to come back to Freedom house. I have been here a little over 10 months. I have graduated the program and am in the staff training program, giving back what was given to me. I am grateful for what God has done in my life and in the lives of those around me. It is very real and something you would have to see with your own eyes. If you are seeking help and answers to life’s problems and issues, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I would recommend anyone to this program, and I believe in it’s ministering in healing the lost and broken, through love, through Christ. I have learned this to be true. You never fail if you never quit. “Call on me and I shall answer you and show you great and wonderous things you know not of.” Jeremiah 33:3
My name is Mike Shepherd, I am 60 years old from St. Louis, MO. In grade school I absolutely knew what I wanted to do with my life and that was to play soccer. I loved it and was good at it. When I got into high school, I got hurt playing football and my soccer dream was gone. This threw me for a loop, and I had trouble dealing with it emotionally. I was resentful toward the other players, not a member of the party crowd, shy with the girls and I felt like I did not fit in anywhere. I later met a girl at my high school job, and this really lifted me up. She was beautiful and came from a humble family disposition. It was at this time that I also discovered what alcohol could do for me. It provided relief from my natural anxieties and social inadequacies. I drank to get drunk from the very beginning and this is how I drank from then on. I married that girl, started a family and was on my way with a successful career and family life. But alcohol became the most important thing to me, my idol. I eventually surrendered everything I had to king alcohol. I lived rightly at times and wrongly at times for the next 20 years. After exhausting every way I could think of to fix my situation I finally gave my life to the Lord. I found a church, got baptized, studied the Word of God, and got active with my church family. After a while I thought I could still drink a little for relief and stay in a right relationship with God. This is not true and a lie from the enemy. Looking back, I was like the thorns in the parable of the sower. This is the one who heard the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and it proves unfruitful. I had a few things that I still wanted to hold on to. Then my pastor referred me to the Freedom House. I left the world for an extended length of time (8-10 months) with the hope of getting right with the Lord. I experienced conviction and healing through the praise and worship services. A burden had to be taken away from me. I learned to praise the Lord in all circumstances and use praise and worship as a means of fighting my personal battles. 2 Chronicles states that Jehoshaphat appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise Him as they went before the army, and when they began to sing and praise the Lord set an ambush against the enemy of Judah and they were routed. Lastly, Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not that you ne not judged.” The Holy Spirit has shown me that I can be judgmental and critical of others at times and this is not pretty, through His Word, the Lord shows me what He required and desires according to His will not mine. I am grateful for this. I have been freed up some and would like for the Holy Spirit to keep cleaning me up. The Lord has given me a measure of peace and I hope to actually bear some good fruit now.
My name is Patrick Cook. I am 40 years old and from St. Louis, Missouri. I was raised by parents who did well but were alcoholics. Growing up, I always felt different and had very few friends. I also had a hard time fitting in anywhere because I was a very sick kid and couldn’t participate in what “normal kids” do which led to me feeling left out and very alone. Growing up, I always said that I would never smoke, drink or do drugs and I didn’t until I went to college. That’s where my addiction to alcohol started and eventually led me to losing my job, home and everything I owned and cost me all of my friends and loved ones. Throughout all of this, I struggled with depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, fear, rejection and condemnation from myself and other people. I had heard of Jesus since my childhood but never really had a personal relationship with Him. Well, a few months before I turned 40, I had finally had enough of the life I had been living and just called on Jesus. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” This definitely applies to me because when I did call on the Lord, he heard me and moved on my behalf. To my surprise He moved quickly. Within 24 hours of crying out to Him in prayer He put a nurse in my path that told me about Freedom House. That’s when I knew the Lord really had moved on my behalf to rescue me from the life I had been living for so long. At that time, I came here to Freedom House and gave my life back to the Lod and without hesitation he delivered me out of everything that I had dealt with on my own. Luke 18:27 says “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Since I have been here, Jesus really has become the center of my life and gave me a new family to love and to be loved by. Not only that, but He has also broken all of the strongholds that I have so long struggled with. Jesus has also taught me to go and do for others the same way He has done for me and I am excited to see what He has in store for me to go and do in His name.
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 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 Trey Hollins. I’m 24 years old rom Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I had a good childhood. I was raised by a single parent, my mom. My dad came around from time to time, but he had 8 other kids and I always felt like he just didn’t have time for me, his oldest son. I started working when I was 16 years old. I complained about it until one day my mom told me that there was a time that she had to pick up trash just to provide for me and my sister. Hearing that changed my whole perspective about having to work at such a young age. My grandma has always been my best friend. When she passed away, things really went downhill for me. I didn’t know Jesus at the time so I felt like I would never see her again. I know now that one day I will get to see her again, praise the Lord! When I was 14 years old, I started partying with older kids. I was introduced to weed, and it seemed to take away anything I was struggling with. This is just where Satan wanted me, believing a lie at a very young age. Everything seemed fun at first, later down the road it turned into a nightmare. It escalated from weed to Xanax and pain meds. There were countless times that my own mother didn’t even know if I was alive in her own house. She was scared and didn’t know how to help me. I ended up on heroin, doing things I never thought I would do. I spent most of 2018 in rehabs trying to help myself, but it just wasn’t working. A friend of my mother’s said, “you don’t have to live like that no more Trey. You’re depending on man to help you with your issues and they will fail you every time.” He also said, “I know Jesus and He will never let you down.” I found out about Freedom House, but I was hesitant to come because I knew down deep that once I came, I would never be the same, but that is exactly what I needed. I entered Freedom House in May and it is honestly the hardest thing I have done in my life but also the best thing I could have done. I’m surrounded by people who genuinely love one another and that are all striving for the same goal ad that is to know Jesus more. Every day I am getting a heart change and a whole new perspective on life. Jesus has closed doors that I never want open again and He has opened doors that I never thought could be opened. Freedom House is honestly the best education that any human being could ask for. Not only do we learn how to have eternal life, we get a personal relationship with Jesus. We learn to trust Him and to put Him first in everything. I am forever changed and grateful.
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
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 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 Cody Ishmael. I am 24 years old and from the Jonesboro, Arkansas area. I have 4 younger sisters and a 4-year-old son. Growing up, I lived with my memaw because both of my parents suffered from addiction. She always took me to church and made sure I read my Bible. I was very sheltered and hated the very thought of drugs and alcohol. When I was a teenager, my dad came home from Federal prison and moved schools. My addiction started off mainly because I was just trying to fit in make new friends at my new school. After I graduated, I got in with a pretty rough crowd and began using speed. I was trying to find a balance between a demanding job, social life, being a dad, I was just a kid myself. I would try to get off drugs and get back into church life, but I never learned how to deal with my problems so each time, I would fall right back into my old ways of handling things. Looking back on things, I can see that the real problem was that I had never fully surrendered my life to the Lord. I had been off drug and “happy” for close to a year when I got a horrible text one morning. One of my friends had committed suicide. It bothered me so much that I relapsed. Then I got in a wreck and things got even worse. Everyone wanted me to get help, but I was refusing. One day I came to my senses and reached out to my dad for help and the answer was Jesus. He sent me to Freedom House and since I have been here, I have really learned a lot about myself. He revealed to me that at the core I suffered from low self-esteem and I was always picking myself apart. The Lord made me and doesn’t see any flaws, so I don’t need to go searching for them in myself anymore. I have learned to seek the Lord for the answer to my problems instead of running to my parents or avoiding the problem by using drugs. I no longer need to seek encouragement from my mom because, although I love her encouraging word, my true encouragement is found in the Lord. I no longer need antidepressants to feel “normal”. The Lord has shown me that nobody is normal and its okay to not always feel “good” because my joy comes from my salvation and knowing that as long as I serve the Lord everything else will work out. My obedience to the Lord has caused my family to get back into church and my sisters have even been transferred to a Christian school. I have an amazing relationship with God and my entire family now that I have learned to put Him first and to trust Him with every aspect of my life instead of just what I choose to surrender. “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13
My name is Hunter Willis. I grew up in Harrison, Arkansas but now I live close to Springfield, Missouri. I’m 27 years old and have fought drug and alcohol abuse since I was 16. Growing up was perfect. My family and I trained horses and rodeoed. We went to church every Sunday and I was active in the youth groups. My family was very close. My dad worked and my mom stayed at home with me and my brothers. She say’s she would ask my brother where I was, and he’d usually say “Oh he left on his horse earlier” then I’d show up a few hours later. She never objected because she knew the love I had for horses and I was safe. After 9-11 my dad had to file for bankruptcy and take a full-time job in Branson, Missouri. That took me away from my best friend and I blamed my dad. When I turned 16, I went wild. I started drinking all the time and taking Adderall and smoking weed. Me and my younger brother partied together all the time. We eventually moved on to methamphetamines. This went on for a few years. My brother became a father when he was 20 and was able to quit, but that wasn’t the case for me. I was on and off meth for 6 years. I had different jobs with horses and cattle in different cities and I would always do good for a minute and then fall right back into my addiction. I found myself in Oklahoma living in my horse trailer, strung out. I remember calling my mom and telling her that if I was going to die, I wanted to be at home-so I came home. I talked to my friend Matt Ogle and he told me about the full armor of God. Something hit me that night and I was able to put the drugs down. I got my CDL license and began driving over the road. Eventually the hours and miles got to me and this time I was worse than ever. I made a call to my mom again but this time it was different. As I reached out to my mom for help, I also called on God. My mom picked me up in Kansas and took me directly to Freedom House. This has not been easy- it’s definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Jesus not only saved me from drugs, but also from myself. This has been the best decision I have ever made. Jesus has changed my whole life. He has restored my family and he has strengthened their faith in Him. I always wanted to be a man that my father could be proud of and Jesus has done that. My father is very proud of who I am today. I used to be a meth-head and now I m a servant of God, only by His grace. I am so thankful for His mercy because I didn’t deserve it, but the Lord saw fit for me to be a soldier for Him and that’s who I want to be for the rest of my days. “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory is of the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31
My name is Rodney Walker. I’m 42 years old and I am from Mississippi. I had a rough childhood because my parents were always fighting, so I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. My grandma took me to church where I was exposed to the truth but also a lot of “religion”. I was saved at the age of 11 but wasn’t properly discipled. I used my involvement in sports to be a release of all the negative emotions I was trying to bottle up inside. I listened to so many lies of the enemy, I eventually turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with life. I should have turned to Jesus. At age 18, my daughter was born. I would love to say that I was this great dad. I was actually the exact opposite. I failed horribly as a father because I didn’t know Jesus. I lived a long, miserable life of rebellion. I know now that God had a plan for me my whole life. I started going to secular rehabs in 2003. I can’t even count the times I have entered treatment just to go out live the same miserable life of rebellion. I tried everything from entering the military to changing where I live to behavior modification programs. Nothing was working. The only way to change my life was to surrender it to the One who gave it to me. I needed Jesus. This is my second time at Freedom House. The first time, I didn’t complete because I still wanted to hold onto things of the world. I wasn’t ready to surrender. When I had the opportunity to come back, I knew I had to surrender everything to Him. I am so grateful that He gave me the wisdom to do that. Today I have completely surrendered everything to Jesus. He is Lord of my life. He does a much better job of running my life than I do. It’s really comforting to be in the center of God’s will today. My life verse is 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
My name is Jessie Crank. I am 35 years old from Blytheville, Arkansas. I am the mother of 3 beautiful girls ages 16, 15 and 12. I grew up in a good home with 2 older sisters. My parents were married and they both worked to provide a nice home for me and my sisters. I grew up going to a Baptist church every Wednesday and twice on Sunday. I got saved by asking Jesus into my heart at the age of 8 but I never had a relationship with Him. When I was 12 years old, my parents got divorced and my family went through a lot of changes. I struggled with abandonment issues and instead of turning to God, I turned to drugs and alcohol. I was a very rebellious teenager and stayed in trouble at home. I always did well in school and made good grades. I was even planning on graduating early, but I got to be too much for my mom to handle so she kicked me out when I was 16 years old. That is when I decided to drop out of school, and I got married at the age of 17. We had 2 daughters by the time I was 19 years old. Unfortunately, this is also when my first marriage ended. Now I was a single mom of 2 and I began sinking deeper into my addictions. It wasn’t long after my divorce that I met my 2nd husband and had my youngest daughter. I was a stay at home mom for 10 years and from the outside my life looked pretty good. But the reality was, I was drinking heavily, taking pills and using meth on a regular basis. A few years ago, I let meth take over my life and I lost everything. My job, my house, my car, my husband and my kids were gone in a matter of months. I found myself homeless and in a very abusive relationship. I was hopeless. I was in a very dark place and I was killing myself with my drug use. I finally made the decision that I’d had enough of that lifestyle. At that point God took over and I began the process of putting myself and my life back together. God is healing me from the inside out piece by piece. I am learning about Jesus by reading from the Bible every day. I get to learn about God and the Bible from the best teachers and speakers around. God has blessed me so much since I came to Freedom House. I have gotten a lot of family restoration since giving my life back to the Lord. I was blessed enough to get to go home and watch my oldest daughter graduate from high school. That is something that only God could have orchestrated because that situation seemed hopeless to me 6 months ago. I give all the glory to God for making me into the woman He always meant for me to be.
My name is Bobby Bean. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois by a great mom and dad. When I was 8 years old, my mother led me to the Lord, and I asked Him to come into my heart. It wasn’t long after that when I started drinking and doing drugs. I felt like I had to have just about anything and everything in order to make it through a day. I was hopeless and paralyzed by fear without drugs helping me to numb these feelings of insecurity. I started trying to get help through secular rehabs and recovery programs, but I would only be able to do “good” for a short time. Eventually, heroin became my go to drug after I hurt my back in a drinking and driving accident. I overdosed several times and one of those times I was in a coma for two weeks. My family was told that I was going to be a vegetable. But God woke me up! I had to re-learn how to do the most basic of things, but I never had to re-learn how to get high. I went to prison and while I was there, I read the Bible. I felt the love of God through the pages and I had a hope for my life. I remembered my mom always talking about Mission Teens because another family member had gone through the program and got a life change. I finally decided to go. When I came to Freedom House, I felt that same love that I felt the first time I read the Bible. At that moment, I felt a peace come over me and I knew that this was exactly where I needed to be. I knew that God heard me crying…God Help Me! Psalm 34:6 “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” Today I am alive. I am learning to love and to receive love and I am also increasing in faith of the One who first loved me. Jesus is who I’ve been missing this whole time and I wish I would not have taken this long to be grateful for the freedom I’m walking in today. He loved me enough to save me and allow me to be a part of something great. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 The peace I have now doesn’t even make sense some days all I know is that I am grateful for it and never want to lose it.
My name is Zach Seymour. I am 28 years old from Bay, Arkansas. I had a great childhood with a loving mother and was really into playing sports. When I was 12 years old, I started playing basketball instead of baseball and made new friends. I wanted to fit in with the cool crowd, so I started smoking pot and going to parties and drinking on the weekends. I got into a 4-wheeler accident and broke my arm. This started my addiction to pills and pain medications. I ended up taking pills daily and hiding it from everyone. I went to a friend’s house and was really sleepy from the pills and his dad told me about meth and how it would keep me awake to drink more. Pretty soon, I realized that I no longer had a weekend addiction. Weeks all ran together. When I was 16, I started using IV drugs. Things were going from bad to worse. I met the mother of my daughter and started to clean myself up a bit but then I got kicked out of school and started getting worse again. I went to jail when I was 18 for a few months, but when I got out, I had to see a probation officer once a month for 10 years. I tried my best but still fell back into my old ways. I saw a doctor who told me Suboxone was the answer to my problems and my opioid addiction. I did good for a while. When my daughter was born, I finally had a reason to be better. From the outside we had it all together…family, house and good job. Things went good for a few years, but it was only a matter of time because I didn’t have Jesus or a foundation. We had an issue in our family and that was all it took to send me right back into my mess. I was finally at what I felt was my lowest point. Someone told me about Mission Teens, and I went to God’s New Life in Marked Tree, AR. I graduated and went back into the world. I thought I had it all together but slowly started to compromise. I stopped doing the things I was taught and stopped putting God first in my life. I only lasted about a month and was right back in my addiction. The Bible warns us that the evil spirits come back 7 times worse and the Bible is true. I could not believe how bad I got in such a short time. I finally came to the end of myself and called Freedom House. I could not believe the peace that came over me when I pulled into the driveway and finally made the decision to fully surrender my will to the Lord. I have graduated the program and stayed on to prayerfully be used by God to help others the way they helped me. I have gained a family here that I’ve always wanted. The best thing is I can be myself for once in my life and they love me for who I am and not what they can get from me. My stand on scripture is Romans 8:1 “There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” Since I have been here the Lord has restored the relationship with my daughter, mom and stepdad. I can see all throughout my life where the Lord has had his hand on me and never let me go and I was to blind at the time to know he was right beside me the whole time. I hope and pray this was able to touch someone’s life and they are able to change.
My name is Stewart Kerr. I am 24 years old from Muncie, Indiana. I grew up in a good home with good parents, two older sisters, and two younger brothers. We grew up going to a church where my parents were very involved, as I got older, they stopped forcing me to go and I started to stray away. Then I got into sports and got busy, and I stopped going to church completely. When I was 15, I began drinking with my friends and a year later I began to smoke weed. I smoked weed for a few years and then I began to experiment with other drugs. In my senior year of high school, I started taking Xanax and I became addicted to them. When I graduated high school, I enrolled in college to get my degree, but since I was addicted to Xanax, I never really showed up to class. The few times I attended class I was high and didn’t remember anything, so I dropped out in my first semester. Not long after that I fractured and dislocated my ankle playing basketball and I was prescribed a bunch of pain medication and I ended up trading my Xanax addiction for a pain pill addiction. At the time I didn’t realize I had a problem. I thought I had it all under control since I could function and hold a job. I took the pain pills for about 5 years and I kept getting worse and taking more pills. Eventually it got to the point where the pain pills weren’t getting me high so I moved on to Heroin, and I used Heroin for a year, and I got to the point where I couldn’t function without it. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. I would quit for a week or two and then go right back to it. My mom always told me that the only way I could quit was by finding Jesus, but I didn’t listen to her and I kept trying to quit in my own strength. It got so bad that I had no hope or joy and I thought that being an addict was just who I was. Then one night I overdosed and wrecked my car. A cop happened to be driving by right after I wrecked. He realized that I had overdosed, and he gave me two shots of Narcan and brought me back to life. I went to jail for a week and knew I had to do something different to get help. I decided to try the “Jesus thing” and I entered Freedom House. It has been the best thing that I’ve ever done! I have always known about Jesus but after developing a relationship with Him I have joy and a genuine smile on my face. I have hope now that I can live differently than I used to. One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” One of the reasons I love that scripture is because, looking back, I realize that Jesus had His hand in my life the whole time even though I was living wrong. There are many times I should’ve been hurt or dead, but Jesus didn’t see fit that I pass on yet. I know now that if I keep my focus on Jesus everything else will work out. I’m not sure what my future holds, but I know that Jesus will guide my steps and lead me to where I need to be.
My name is Tanner McCormick. I’m 22 years old from Kennett, Missouri. I am the oldest of 3 siblings. My mother was addicted to pain pills, but she tried the best she could. She blacked out a lot, so I basically raised my younger brother and sister until I was 11 years old. My mother got a boyfriend and I became very bitter. When I was 13, I went to live with my father who I had only met once before in my life. This turned out to be a bad decision. I started drinking and smoking weed, looking for happiness but not finding it. I felt like a slave to my father and his farm. I wasn’t allowed to play or have friends. I was only allowed to go to school and work on his farm. I felt lonely and used. Finally, I moved back to my mother’s house. When I was 15, I got addicted to methamphetamines. I would lie, steal and whatever was needed just to get more of the drugs. I started making meth and selling it at school to other kids. By the age of 19 I found myself homeless, hopeless and sick. My life had become a cycle of never-ending terror. I was eating out of dumpsters and sneaking into people’s back yards to find shelter. The first time I used a needle, I had a heart attack. The doctors said it was a miracle that I survived. I now know that I survived by God’s grace to fulfill the plan and purpose that He had intended for me. I was desperate for change and I prayed for the first time in a long time. I ended up in a mental institution. While I was there, my nurse told me about Freedom House. I didn’t know it, but her son was here, and God was changing him, and she knew that’s what I needed- real change through Jesus! I knew she was right, so I made the call. A day and a half later, I was here. I was surrounded with love, the real love of Jesus. It didn’t take lone until I surrendered my life to Jesus and started to become a different man. I had morals, I cared, and I decided not to give up. Jesus restored my relationship with my mother, and I am building a relationship with my son. Now I wake up every day with a hope and a purpose. I never knew that there was a better life. I’m no longer a slave to fear, and I will not give up. I love the scripture in Galatians 6:9 that says "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
My name is Cameron Collins. I’m 28 years old and I was born and raised in Mount Ida, AR. I have a brother that’s 2 years older than me and parents that got divorced when I was 4. I really don’t have many memories of them together. Both of my parents got remarried and my brother and I stayed with our aunt and uncle as well as my grandmother. I was raised in church until I was about 14. At the age of 14 I started using drugs and my life started to go downhill really fast. I started missing a lot of school as I tried every drug I could find. By the time I was 16 I dropped out of school and started using a needle to inject my drugs. When I started using the needle I lost all of myself respect as well as my respect for others. I would do anything to anyone just to get drugs. When I was 18 I got into a bad car wreck and they gave me pain pills. After doing all my drugs the pain pills had little effect, but after a couple of months of surgeries I found myself addicted to the pain pills as well. By this time the drugs were making me very paranoid, so I stopped taking everything except the pain killers. Now my life revolved around pain killers and I grew worse and worse. I was 25 when I caught my first felony and I was sentenced to 6 months at an Adult Correctional Facility. It was one of the best things that happened to me. I was in a one man cell with nothing but a Bible so I opened it and started reading. For the first time the Bible was real to me. After getting out of isolation I got into a Christian program in prison and I spent 6 months there. I got out of prison and 2 months later I started using drugs again because I stopped reading my Word and started hanging out with old friends. I came to the end of myself again and checked into Grace MBTC and spent 5 months there. I took my eyes off of Jesus and left the mission early. It wasn’t long after I got high again, but this time my life seemed so much darker than before. I was using and selling a lot of drugs, and I had some connections with some very bad people and the law had their eyes on me and watched everything I was doing. After Jesus took everything, I had I found my way to Freedom House MBTC where I’ve been now for 7 months. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done in life. Now that I’m in the Lord’s will I have a peace that I haven’t had since I was 14. My favorite scripture is in John chapter 14 verse 27. It says, “I leave the gift of peace with you-my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t fear or be troubled in your hearts- instead be courageous!” It reminds me that all I ever wanted was Jesus’ perfect peace.
My name is LeeAnn Woods. I am 48 years old from Reyno, AR. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful sons, Marcus and Chandler; a daughter in law, Emily and two grandsons, Chase and Ryder. When I think about my life up until now, the scripture John 10:10 comes to mind, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” I grew up in a Christian home, going to church. I always wanted to do what was right. My dream when I was younger was to become a missionary. When I was 8 years old, I got saved at church camp. I remember the overwhelming fight I had within myself to walk to the alter that night to give myself to the Lord. Satan was already trying to steal my salvation, but later that night, I gave my life to the Lord with one of the camp counselors. I’m telling you that part of my story because I have felt that same battle my entire life. Anytime a choice or path was put before me, I would believe I was choosing the right path, but the devil would convince me otherwise and I would choose wrong. Satan lied to me and told me I wasn’t worthy of being a missionary or even part of a church. I began feeling like a failure. My choices caused me to eventually leave everything and everyone in my life behind. The devil convinced me that my children would be better off without me and that I should just stop serving Jesus completely. I didn’t want to be a hinderance to someone else by my life of failure and addiction. “No one can serve two masters.” Matthew 6:24 From 1995 – 2010 I went to rehab and mental institutions more than 25 times. Nothing worked. In 2011 I entered Mission Teens and got a lasting relationship with Jesus. I graduated the program, but there were areas of unforgiveness that I still had not dealt with. I fell back into my addiction, but I could hear the voice of Jesus telling me that I didn’t have to live like this anymore. I called to get back in and they suggested that I call Gary and Susan at Freedom House. When Susan answered the phone, she told me to get in a car and get here. When I got here, there was no judgment or questions; just love. When I got here, I knew I had a relationship with Jesus, but I hadn’t given Him everything to be set free. (It’s not called Freedom House by chance.) It took a few months to surrender everything, but now I’ve finally been set free! My family and I have the best relationship that we’ve had in a long time. I decided to stay here for staff training and now I am a missionary. Satan is a liar!! I am living out the calling Jesus has always had on my life. Now I get to attend my son’s functions at his last year of school, I get to take care of my grandkids, and spend time with my oldest son’s family. Jesus said, “come to me all who are weary and burdened and I’ll give you rest”. I don’t have the heavy weight of my past anymore. Jesus has given me a rich life in Him. Please don’t ever believe there’s nothing more. Jesus has more for you than you’ll ever know. Thank you to Freedom House for guiding me back to Jesus.
My name is Bo Sandefur and I am 23 years old. I’m from a small town in the hills of Kentucky called Horse Branch. I grew up in a good family. We always went to church, until I was 11 years old. At that time I fell out of a tree stand and I injured my back and was prescribed pain pills. That’s where my addiction began. In a very short time I learned how to synthesize methamphetamine and how to steal the ingredients for it, and I learned how to make moonshine and grow marijuana. I quit school at an early age and had plans to make meth, run moonshine, and grow Kentucky homegrown marijuana for the rest of my life. I fell further and further from God the more that I lived that lifestyle. I stopped going to church and I distanced myself from my family. I have had several DUI’s in my lifetime and some other charges, but never anything too serious until I turned 18. When I was 18 years old I robbed a store while I was drunk and I didn’t remember any of it, until I woke up with cigarettes all over my house and I did not know where they came from. I was charged with 3rd degree burglary and I had to do a program called Drug Court for those charges, but I was terminated from it and had to go serve a year locked up. After I served my time, I became very involved in manufacturing methamphetamine and I continued to grow marijuana. I started doing meth every day, and my life started to really spin out of control. For 11 years I led a life of violence and bad decisions and it wore me down spiritually, physically, and mentally. The last 3 years of my addiction were the worst. I wanted to quit, but I felt as if I wasn’t in a position to quit making meth. I cried out to the Lord that He would deliver me from my mess and the lifestyle I was living and He answered me in a way I thought He never would have. One day when I was working at my house, someone came by high on drugs and began hitting me in the head with a ball hitch. I stabbed him twice and I was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The judge saw that it was self defense so he suggested that I go to a long term treatment center. I called Freedom House and was accepted into the program shortly after. Since I have been here Jesus has delivered me from the demonic influences that had their grip on my life and I stand on the scripture from John 10:10 that says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come to give life and give it more abundantly.” I no longer feel alone or unwanted by God. Jesus answered my prayer by taking me out of my mess and bringing me to a place where I can seek Him for my problems.
My name is Casey Barker. I’m 45 years old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. I am an only child that grew up in a home where my parents loved me and provided for me. I went to church, I was active in school, sports, fishing and hunting, and I worked with my dad. My dad is a good man, but at times he would speak harshly to me and it affected my self esteem negatively. At the age of 12 my best friend was killed in an accident. I began trying to numb my pain with alcohol, sex, and drugs. I tried anything that made me feel good and helped me forget about my friend’s accident. That led me into addiction, depression, and eventually a suicide attempt with a gun. I survived the suicide attempt and found that I needed help with my life, but I didn’t know where to find it. I counseled with a pastor and found that I needed Jesus to help me. I went to a program in North Carolina and began a new path in life with Jesus in control. I learned that the Bible was God’s way of showing me how to deal with life properly. I gave my life to Jesus on November 9th, 2004. I got involved in church and celebrate recovery where I gave my testimony. I became a minister, married my best friend, and began doing mission work overseas. My life was the best it had ever been. I was sober for over 11 years, but life got tough again. Over time I relapsed and started drinking again. I eventually lost everything due to my addiction. I was at the end of my rope again and knew I needed help. I came to Freedom House in March of 2018. At Freedom House I found love, encouragement, and direction. Jesus is changing me and giving me strength, motivation, and purpose. Jesus has taken a lot of the problems I’ve struggled with and has taught me how to love others and myself. I have committed to follow His path and not mine, and to be the father and husband that He wants me to be. I stand on the scripture in 2nd Timothy 1:7 that says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” And Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jesus has given me a new heart, is removing my character flaws, restoring my family, showing me how to love, filling me with confidence, and has given me a purpose. Today I walk boldly in Him.
My name is Krista Bates-Duncan. I am 29 years old and live in Malden, Missouri. As I was growing up I went through many traumatic events that led up to my addiction. I lived in fear most of my life and did not have a clue as to what real love felt like. I didn’t understand what the word “love” even meant or what love looked like. As a child I was burned by boiling water at the age of three, molested and raped by the age of five, and in foster care by the age of seven. Being molested and raped for 10 years of my life took a huge toll on me. I had no self worth or respect for myself. I thought I could just bury the pain I had inside and act like everything in my life was great, but I couldn’t do it. I got married at the age of 17 and had 3 beautiful children. At the age of 19 my doctor presented me with pain medication, and all the pain and suffering that I had buried finally surfaced, and I went through 10 years of addiction. I had been a believer of Christ my whole life. I just never trusted Him to be as big as I was taught, and I never gave Him my pain and hurt. When I got to Freedom House I felt the love immediately and it was so overwhelming. I didn’t feel worthy enough to be given something so beautiful. In the 8 months I’ve been here I have learned how to forgive myself and how to properly love others. Jesus has shown me how much He loves me and how worthy He thinks I am by allowing me to be a part of this ministry. Love was the hardest thing for me to receive, but now that Jesus is planted within me it’s the only thing I see. The scripture I stand on is Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I was so scared to surrender to the Lord that when I got here, all I wanted to do was fix everything myself and run, but I held onto that scripture and placed it in my heart, and it has helped me through. Since I have been here Jesus has completely restored my relationship with my children, their dad, and their step mom. Jesus has shown up and shown out for me and I’m so thankful. I am not the same person I was when I walked in the door 8 months ago. I plan on staying for a staff training commitment and I look forward to the doors God is going to open for me later on in life.
My name is Earl Gyger and I’m 42 years old from Forsyth, MO. My childhood was great, but at the age of 14, I was introduced to “crank”, which is now known as crystal methamphetamine. That choice I made back then led to an emotional roller coaster of bad relationships and a very dark and ugly lifestyle. I stopped using meth for a short time and got married. She had a 2-year-old daughter and together we had 2 more children. You would think that was a good enough reason for any man to stop using, dealing, and transporting drugs, but it wasn’t. This marriage lasted for 15 years. I was able to pull it back together just for a while and the Lord blessed me with full custody of my children. Then my selfishness, pride, and bitterness took over and I was back to the same bad behavior, but this time it was worse. I knew I was dying, but I was desperate for a change in my life. I was crying out to Jesus and running from Him at the same time. Praise the Lord, I have a great home church family, community and brothers and a sister that prayed continually for me and would not give up on me. God heard their prayers and at just the right time, my pastor’s wife was shopping, and the store owner started telling her about Freedom House and how she had seen firsthand how the Lord had used this place to change her son in law’s life (John Van Loan). That 2-minute conversation turned into 2 hours. After she left, my sister happened to call her and the seed was planted. Now all the people who were praying for me began to pray for God to make a way for me to enter Freedom House. God heard their cry and answered their prayers. I was finally ready to get the help I so desperately needed so we were headed to Holcomb, Missouri. I know without a doubt that Jesus ordained that shopping trip, phone call and answered prayers. I never thought that drugs would end up stealing 28 years of my life when I tried them for the first time. I guess that’s what the devil would want you to think. Now I can say that Jesus has restored so much in my life. He is restoring the gifts that He gave me, and He is healing my heart-giving me the ability to love myself and others again. I’m alive today because God has plans for me. He took me out of my mess and put me in a place where He knew I would be loved by so many people and finally feel peace so that I could develop a real, lasting relationship with Him. I am excited for the chance to shine His light in my community and be able to tell others the Good News. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you and to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
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 Terry Lynn Jackson. I am 48 years old and was born on a farm in a small town in Illinois. I was the youngest of 8 siblings, so I always got hand me downs and never had anything of my own that was new, so when I was only 5 years old, I started stealing candy from the store. This behavior grew and by the time I was 14, I was a full- blown alcoholic and breaking into homes. I got in so much trouble by the time I was 17, I got arrested and sent to prison for 4 years. In addition to me being an alcoholic and thief, I was also very abusive (physically and mentally) to every woman I was in a relationship with. I have been married and divorced twice. I have a daughter who is 21 years who was raised by my sister, but thank you Jesus, that relationship is being restored. I lived most of my adult life either in rehab or jail. I moved away from my hometown and did okay for a few years. I remember letting a homeless friend come stay with me and he introduced me to “Ice”. It was the worst 8 months of my life. The devil had me where he wanted me, and I lost everything I ever had. I told the Lord that I couldn’t go on and that I needed His help. He heard my cry. I got into a fight with my girlfriend and the police came to arrest me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was Jesus saving me and answering my cry for help. I was facing my 3rd felony and 8 more years in prison when God opened the door for me to come to Freedom House. I am so thankful that He put me in a place to get closer to Him. He really is the answer to ALL my problems, pain and suffering. He has given me a solid foundation so that when I leave here, I can use the tools He has equipped me with to live a good life for Him. I am so thankful to get to be a part of Mission Teens. I know my life will never be the same. I love the verse in Psalm 37:4; “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
My name is John Van Loan, I am 42 years old and I live in southwest Missouri. I never realized the devastation alcohol would cause in my life when I started drinking at the age of 16. I always just wanted to have fun and party. Little did I know that the alcohol and partying would eventually consume me with sin and shame that was taking me down a road that would kill me, and a road that did destroy my hope in life, along with shattering the hope and dreams of my wife Jana, my daughter Dakota (12), my son John Cole (9), and our new born son Kross. I had been saved for 9 years at this time and was so blinded by the lies of Satan that I just wanted to die and there was nothing anyone could say or do to change my mind. But God is not going to let one of his children rot in the grave of sin and shame. God delivered me from the power of darkness and placed me in the kingdom of Jesus Colossians 1:13, that part of the kingdom where people's hearts and minds are directed by the Holy Spirit. For me God put me in Freedom House MBTC where Christ's love was shown to me through my beloved Freedom House family, where they helped me pick up the pieces of my shattered life and give them to God through the blood of Jesus. I gained a personal relationship with Jesus and spent 8 months growing in Christ through praise and worship and the powerful Word of God in the Bible. Though I was spiritually dead for the things I did against God, He gave me new life through Jesus Eph 2:5 I am now a new creation in Christ and my family here at home has been restored! Glory to God! The lives of my wife and 3 children have also been restored through the hope and love of our resurrected savior Jesus Christ. I am now back home with a heart of joy and love that I know can only come from Jesus and am able to share my story to everyone I see that God is real and can use anyone to show his hope, power, and Glory in the world that he created. I now walk with my head up knowing that I have a God that hears me, the love of Jesus behind me, the Holy Spirit within me, and an eternal home in Heaven in front of me. I love my Freedom House family and thank God every day for the mighty men and women of God that reside there and am forever grateful that they invested in my life, just like Jesus asked them to, ultimately leading me to a personal intimate relationship with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
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 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 Shannon Wayne Kender and I am 41 year old from Joneseboro, AR. I’m no stranger to God’s love, grace and mercy. This is my 3rd season in Mission Teens and each time He brought me out of my mess was nothing short of a miracle. I have the best parents anyone could ever ask for they taught me to know right from wrong and shown love and discipline equally. I was saved when I was 12 or 13 years old and even though I know He genuinely came into my heart, I only asked Him so that I wouldn’t go to hell. I knew nothing about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I had basically checked the box so that my eternity would be spent in Heaven. In the 9th grade, it was decided that I would be home schooled, and it would be that way for my 9th, 10th and 11th grade years. During this time, I felt that I was missing out on being a teenager because I didn’t have regular interaction with other kids. My 12th grade year I was back in public school to graduate. Wanting to fit in badly, coupled with the belief that I had a lot of catching up to do on life, left me open to one bad decision after another. Simply out of fear, I started out slowly, smoking pot and getting drunk. I eventually made the mistake of trying cocaine and meth and the life I knew was over. In a blink of an eye, the cords of sin and death had wrapped around me and had all but choked me completely out. I was a shell of a man and all you could see in my eyes was death. I had quickly gone from partying on the weekends to shooting up every chance I got. Not having a relationship with Jesus and only having “checked the box”, I had no idea that He was right beside me the whole time watching over me and waiting for me to cry out and reach for Him. After a while, I became so numb to my misery, I almost became comfortable and spent over 2 decades on the brink of death. In 2000, I joined the Army and went to Ft. Benning, GA. My addiction followed. I left active duty and joined the Guard and was sent to Iraq for over a year clearing bombs off the supply routes. God’s protection was over me as I was hit several times. Upon returning home, it should have been a time to draw close to God, instead it was just another excuse for me to get lost in my addiction. I finally reached a point where I was absolutely broken and had no where else to turn and went to Grace MBTC and finally learned what a relationship with Jesus was and how vitally important it was. I graduated, left and quickly fell because I was still first in my life. God thought enough of me to meet me again where I was and brought me back to the mission where I stayed for a year and a half. When I left, I felt I finally had it all together and though it took longer, I still allowed my pride to move myself before everything else in my life and pride always comes before a fall. God has loved me enough to bring me to the Freedom House and in the short time here, He has revealed more to me about how deep His love for me is and that He truly has a calling on my life. Not only is He a God of unimaginable restoration, He is a God that takes Broken vessels and turns them info front line soldiers for His army whose testimonies can change live and give hope to the hopeless. So, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been rescued by the Lord and fallen, I’m living proof that if you get back up and call on Jesus He will meet you where you are. We are overcomers because He overcame the world!! John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace, in this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world.”
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 Kayla Kristin Binns. I am 32 years old. I was raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas in a Christian household. My parents loved me unconditionally and took very good care of me. My parents knew that keeping me involved in activities would keep me out of trouble, so I was very active in softball, clogging and church. My younger brother and I are best friends. We were totally inseparable when we were growing up and we both ended up taking a wrong turn in life. Today, I am proud to say that we are both serving the Lord in the ministry of Mission Teens. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 8 years old, but I never had a relationship with Him. I graduated high school and moved to Dallas to attend a hairdressing academy. I ended up being very successful in my career. I ended up ruining it all because of my love of drugs and bad relationships. Not understanding that Jesus was my one true love, I looked for love in all the wrong places. I tried to fill the void in my life with pot, meth and men. When I was 21, I ended up marrying my high school sweetheart and got pregnant the first year. I have a beautiful son named Kash. (I currently do not have a relationship with him, but I know that God is faithful, and I believe that God is going to restore him back to me.) Through lies, cheating, drug abuse and not really knowing each other, my marriage crumbled. I found my self shooting up any drugs I could find, self-injuring and wanting to die. I knew that I needed God in my life. I went to Mission Teens in 2011 and began my relationship with Jesus. I began to understand this “love” I had been looking for all my life. My family was being restored and I though I had it all figured out. I didn’t! I found myself back in the same old trap of the enemy. This time it was worse because I knew the truth. After 5 years of running from God, I ended up back in the mission. Praise God for loving me and giving me another chance. It was so hard because I was so mad at myself for falling. I graduated in March of 2017 and I went home. I knew that He wasn’t through with me and that I wasn’t supposed to leave, but I thought I could go fix a bad relationship. I was wrong. Instead of me pulling bad people into the light, the bad pulled me into the darkness. Within 5 months, I was experiencing a state of the evil one that I had never experienced before. The whole 5 months, I knew I needed to get back into the will of the Father. I called Freedom House desperate to experience the freedom of Christ that I had heard of, but not fully experienced. I think I was finally tired of looking for love in all the wrong places and showing love in all the wrong ways. I’ve been here for 3 months and God knew exactly the family I needed. He has called me to serve and show His love to others the way He is showing His love to me. I am experiencing Jesus love like I never have before. I am so grateful for the change He has done in me. I am very sure that this is where He wants me to be. I shall not die, but live and tell of the works of the Lord. God Bless and Merry Christmas!!
My name is Harvey Dennis Russell, Jr. I am 35 years old and I was born in South Carolina, but I was raised in Essex, Missouri. Up until I was 6 years old, I watched my alcoholic biological father beat my mother. We moved around a lot and I even spent some time in a foster home. My mom took me and my sister away from that situation and met my stepfather and we moved to Missouri. The next 10 years of my life were what I consider, pretty normal. I went to school and church and I had a lot of friends. When I was 15 years old, my favorite person in my life, my grandmother passed away and my pastor at the time confessed to having an affair with one of the church ladies. This really shook my faith. I was angry with God and I stopped going to church and started doing my own thing. I started smoking pot occasionally and thought that was okay. I always said that I wouldn’t drink because I saw how alcohol ruined my father, but eventually I started drinking too. By the time I graduated high school, I was drinking and smoking pot every day. I got married to my first wife at 19 and that was short lived due to my drug abuse. All I cared about was getting drunk. I moved to Wyoming to stay with my aunt and get my life right. 24 hours after I got there, I woke up in a jail cell with my first DUI. Instead of getting better, I got worse and ended up going back home to Missouri. My wife and I tried to work things out and this time we moved together to Phoenix to start over. My main problem was ME and everywhere I went, there I was. Things didn’t work out for us and we got divorced. Over the next 6 years, I was using cocaine daily and selling drugs. I got married again and we had a daughter together. I thought being a dad would help me get better, but there I was. After several more DUI’s my wife left me and I found myself homeless. I spent the next year living house to house. In Feb 2017 I was living in a hotel and I didn’t have the money to pay for another day. That morning when I woke up, I got a call from my uncle. He told me if I wanted to change my life, I needed to call Freedom House and he gave me the number. 3 days later I checked into Freedom House and my life has completely changed. I found out that all those years I wasted in that bottle, I was looking for something to fill a hole in my heart. When I let Jesus back into my life, He filled that hole with love. I wake up every day with the joy of the Lord. God gave me a second chance and the opportunity to share my story and maybe help someone else along the way. “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.” Romans 8:28
Hi, my name is Nathan Dell. I am 26 years old and I am no longer a methamphetamine addict! I spent the last 4 to 6 years of my life using drugs and hanging out with the wrong groups of people. During that time, I turned away from Jesus and lost sight of who I was. I found myself alone and broken; for the first time in my life, I was afraid that I may not make it to see tomorrow. I realized that I needed help because I no longer even knew who I was. I found freedom in admitting my sin, repenting and praying to the Lord for help. I prayed for countless, endless nights, with tears in my eyes for the Lord to show me His love and mercy. I was demanding for God to give me answers. He did answer me. He said, “Nathan, I will give you want you NEED and save you from yourself.” He promised to restore all of the family relationships that I had destroyed. He promised to give me the inner peace that I so desperately needed and that we would restore my mind, body and spirit that I damaged with my bad choices if I would choose to seek Him. Since I came to Freedom House, Jesus has been doing just what He promised. He began showing me the wrongs and rights of how I was living, especially when It came to communicating with others. I was closed minded and had a hard time seeing things in the way that they were meant to be seen through the Lords eyes. He is showing me that His ways are the only way to live a fulfilled life. He has restored my relationship with my family by allowing me to be around them when He sees fit for me to do so but also reminding me that He has to come first. The Lord has brought me to a place where I am not only around people who have been through the same things that I have, but are all also willing to help each other and are open to help. This has helped me tremendously with feeling comfortable around people and surrendering over my will. This has given me the opportunity to be more open with others especially my family, but most importantly completely open with the Lord. Here’s two of my favorite scriptures and why. Psalms 144:1 “Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” I particularly like this scripture because it is one of the Lords ways of reminding me what He has done for me and why He led me to train, teach and compete in martial arts. One of my other favorite scriptures is Psalms 91:11 which says this; “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” I like this scripture because it lets me know that God cares and loves us all enough to not only guide, protect and show us His ways, but also enough to command His angels to watch over us and guard us.
My name is Weston Moon. I’m 30 years old and I’m from Trumann, Arkansas. My mom and dad were great parents, but their marriage got taken over by Satan, drugs and lies and they got divorced when I was just 6 years old. I started playing sports when I was 5 years old and that seemed to keep me busy and out of trouble for a long time. Not knowing at the time that these years would be the best years of my life and not seeing that the road up ahead was paved with bad choices would be the road that leads me away from my family and best friends. I know that God will restore all of the family relationships and friendships that have been broken and He is still working on me and the calling and purpose in life that He has for me. When I was 13, I was introduced to alcohol, pills, marijuana and meth amphetamines. I started isolating from my friends and family. I had no idea that the things I was doing would eventually lead me down a path of such destruction. I was quickly deceived by Satan’s lies and I got very caught up in the “drug” lifestyle. I got hooked up with a couple of kingpin drug dealers, one of which is now serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary. Even seeing this happen, I was too deceived to believe anything bad could happen to me. I was completely blind to everything that was happening to me. Satan was stealing my peace, my chance for success and my love for myself or others. Nothing good was going to come out of the life I was living. Thank God for loving and listening to my mom’s cries and prayers. One day I walked in mom’s room and she was on her face crying out to Jesus that He would save me because she couldn’t. That day I was arrested at 17 years old and sent to Juvenile Detention Center. The day I turned 18 my mom and sister came and got me and took me to Crossville Mission Bible Training Center. That’s where I met Jesus Christ and developed an everlasting personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I was experiencing the presence of God like never before. While I was at Crossville MBTC, I lost one of my best friends in a car wreck that we were in. I didn’t know how to handle the grief and a short time later, I also lost my cousin. I couldn’t accept the gift that God had called some of His children home. I turned to drugs instead of running towards God in my time of loss. I was lost in total darkness and fully addicted to opiates and meth constantly getting into trouble with the law and making several trips in and out of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Thank you Lord that through circumstances in my life and by His grace I am done running from God. I can’t handle the misery of going against everything I believe in. God opened the doors for me to come to Freedom House and He has set me free from the bondage of addiction and the chains that the sin had wrapped around me. Since I’ve been here I have been healed of Hepatitis C ad delivered from evil spirits that were attacking my life. Today I can say that I love the Lord and I am very thankful that He has given me another chance to serve Him. God has blessed me with a loving family and a beautiful daughter whom He is raising me up to be a Godly father to. Through my testimony and by the way I live my life, I pray that God will use me to reach people who are lost in darkness and help them to see that there is hope and abundant life in Jesus.
My name is Skylar Matheney. I am 35 years old. I am from Piggott, Arkansas. I am a single parent of a 13 year old son, his name is Devon. He is the light of my life and beside’s God, the source of my strength. I started off on drugs at the age of 14, mainly drinking and then that turned into marijuana. I was introduced to meth at the age of 16 and started on my downward spiral. The last few years were terrible. I was terrible in a lot of ways. I was shooting up and smoking a lot of meth. I think it was all to fill a huge void in me. That huge void was me not knowing Jesus. I was severely depressed and did not think I was good enough for anybody or anything. I was even stealing from my loved ones to feed my addiction. Because of my reputation with stealing, my best friend thought I stole from him and we got into a physical altercation. This was my “rock bottom”, in rehab terms. I was not allowed to be around my family because of my actions and that included my son. I did not care if I lived or died. I decided to go to my family’s house to ask for help. I knew I needed it. My family wouldn’t even let me in their house, so I passed out in a car in the driveway, when I woke up, my mom handed me her phone and told me to call somewhere for help. Praise the Lord, I called Freedom House. Now I would like to tell you about how God worked in my life after that. My best friend that I grew up with and done drugs with died suddenly not long ago. He had decided to straighten up his life and went to a faith based rehab. He died while he was there. When I attended his funeral, I had a feeling of comfort that he was indeed in Heaven. Several months later, while at Freedom House, I found out that Gary and Susan Smith had been talking to him and they had led him to the Lord over the phone. That is only the hand of God that my best friend and myself would come to know the Lord through the same people and not even know it. I was totally amazed. Gary was sharing the story with the family here and I realized, he’s talking about my best friend!! Before I came here, I had never even read a Bible. Now in just 7 short months, I have learned so much. God has even used me to witness to others through all that I have learned. The time I have been allowed to study God’s word has caused a complete transformation of me and my mind. For instance, what used to depress me now brings me joy. What I went through that caused me to turn to drugs, now causes me to turn to God. I love Jesus so much. I am so grateful that He plucked me out of darkness and uncertainty, which was going to lead to death, and gave me a second chance at life and a wonderful eternal life. I can only hope to serve Him and His kingdom for all the days of my life. I praise Him for who He is and for all that He has done for me and for my family. God Bless Everyone. ~ In loving memory of Scotty Dunlap.
My name is Morgan Schmidt. I’m 25 years old and I was born in Tupelo, MS. I have a beautiful, 4 year old little girl named Khloe Beth. I grew up in a split home due to divorce. I lived with my mom, but she had a problem and seemed to choose her addiction over being a other most of the time. My dad wanted the best for me and felt like he could be a better parent so they ended up fighting over me. I can remember how DHS would come to check on me and my mom and I would always lie to them because I was afraid they would take me away from her. After the police came to our house for the 3rd time, I had to move in with my grandma. She was the glue of our family. It was her hard work that held us all together. I remember that she worked 2 jobs to provide for me and my aunt. She was really trying her best to raise us. She was gone a lot of the time so I stayed home with her husband. He sexually abused me the entire time. He would tell me lies about myself to make me feel bad and I believed all of them. He told me that if I told anyone what he was doing to me that no one would ever believe me. A big part of me didn’t want to tell on him because I knew it would hurt my grandma. Finally one day, I told my mom and she just sent me back there and we never talked about it again. I guess as a child, I just thought all of this was normal. He is dead now, but I know that he will have to give an account for everything he did to me. I graduated high school and started partying hard. I started taking Xanax to help with my depression but they didn’t help, they only made me more depressed. I got to the point where I wouldn’t even get out of bed if I didn’t have any. I got married 2 years out of high school and became a mother. This is also when I started using meth. I can remember everyone warning me that meth would take everything from me but I didn’t believe them. Before I knew it, my family was torn apart, I lost my pretty little house and I got fired from my job. I ended up in jail. I can remember the guard came and knocked on the door and he had temporary custody papers for me to sign. Now I was even losing my daughter. This was definitely rock bottom for me. I decided it was time to do something to change my situation. The worst day ended up being the best day because it was the day that I decided to make a change. Less than a week later, I was headed to Freedom House. This is the hardest, but best thing I have ever done. The Lord reminds me every day that He was with me through it all and that I had to go through all of that to be where I am today. He has shown me that my past doesn’t decide my future because I am a new creation in Him. I am so thankful that the Lord plucked me out of my mess and chose me to be here in this season in my life. Some say they never really had a drug problem they had a Jesus problem and this is very true. The love that I’ve been searching for all along, I have finally found in Jesus. By my obedience, my whole family is being blessed; my 4 year old can quote scriptures and songs and without a doubt is on fire for God. My grandma doesn’t miss a Sunday at church and the Lord is working strongly on my mom. I’m so thankful that my family never gave up on me, most of all though, I’m thankful for the mess I made because it led me straight to Jesus and gave me a powerful message to share. I can finally say, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God!”
My name is Nina Lee Beal. I’m 36 years old. I am a proud mother of one son, Caden. My life has been a tough one to live. My family was torn apart at the age of 14 when I lost my mother who had been sick most of my childhood. Her death triggered a downward spiral that began with partying on the weekends and escalated into being a full blown meth addict. Along with the drugs came a dependency on people and relationships trying to fill a void in my life that I now know, can only be filled by Jesus. I felt very abandoned and cheated by life. I managed to graduate high school, barely. I decided to run away from my addictions and moved to Canada and went college. Unfortunately you cannot run away from your problems, at some point, God wants you to face them so that He can deal with you. I got to Canada and replaced the meth addiction with new addictions with new friends. I ended up wasting this opportunity and eventually ended up dropping out. Again, I thought I would just run away from my problems. I was living it up, but I was still miserable. I ended up right where I started, Arkansas. I tried to create a “normal” life for myself. I had short lived jobs and relationships that ended up back at the same old drug scene. I finally met my first husband and quit doing drugs. A few months after we got married, I got pregnant with my son. I thought I finally found what I was looking for…this was going to fill the void in my life and things were going to be normal for once. Everything was great at first, but after a few years, this too fell apart. Life happened and I ended up back in my old ways. In 2009, I finally came to the end of myself and actually went to my family and asked for help. They gave me the number to a Mission Teens center in Kentucky. I met Jesus there and graduated the program. I stayed on for staff training and transferred to the Mission Teens in Paragould, Arkansas. I was closer to home and the enemy crept in to steal me back. I left in the middle of a commitment and thought I would be ok. I did good for a while, but I slowly let sin separate me from the Lord. I ended up totally falling away and became very depressed. I tried to take my own life. I slit my wrist from my palm to almost my elbow. I cut through 2 major arteries and a main vein. I should have died. Surviving, I was full of self-hate. I continued using drugs to make me feel better, but they always just made me feel worse. I finally had enough and I called Freedom House. I was totally ashamed and full of remorse for not only wrecking my life, but hurting my entire family. Since being here, I have totally surrendered to the Lord, given Him my life, because He gave me mine. He has shown me so much grace and mercy and love through just allowing me to still be alive. The Lord has restored my relationships with my family members that I had hurt, as well as with my son. He has given me courage, self-worth and a hope. For I was once hopeless in the world’s eyes, the Lord has also shown me that He must break us to shape us. Jeremiah 18:4 “And the vessel that He made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter, so He made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”
Hello! My name is Marvin Hembree; I am 40 years old and was born and raised in a small town called Clinton, Tennessee. I am the oldest of 4 boys. I grew up in an amazing home with two very loving parents who are still together to this day. The 4 of us boys were raised in church our whole lives and came to know God from a very young age. I always excelled in academics in school, up until my teenage years when I began to experiment with drugs. I have always been of a very small stature and felt like I needed to find ways to fit in with the crowd to compensate for my size. This is when my drug use began and my life began to slowly spiral out of control. I have been in and out of jail and treatment multiple times throughout my life. There has always been something missing in my life, leaving me feeling hollow inside. I have spent my whole life trying to fill this void. I filled it with drugs, bad relationships, money etc…, never satisfying this emptiness inside of me. As I finally reached the end of my rope, Jesus intervened and laid out a path for me to come to Mission Teens. Every since I walked on to the property, I have experienced a fullness inside of me that only can be explained by being overcome by the Spirit of God. Since I have been building my personal relationship with Jesus, I have an abundance of joy in my life-joy that doesn’t come from all the things of the world but from Him. Today I can honestly say that I have been set free from the bondage that has enslaved me for so long. I thank God for this sanctuary He has placed me in. I also thank God for all the wonderful people He has called here, that have dedicated their lives to helping the worlds outcasts, like me, to find answers to their life’s problems and situations. I know that I am learning what I need for when I head back into the world to have an abundant, successful and full life that Jesus promised. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
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 Stephanie Ballard. I am 25 years old and was born in Paragould, Arkansas. Growing up I did not have what most children had growing up. I was born into addiction and with that I witnessed more than I should have. My mother got shot in the neck over a drug deal gone wrong. I was only 3 years old and I was in the back seat sleeping. I watched my parents do everything in front of me and I felt a sense of responsibility to keep them safe. I started doing drugs at the age of 11. By the time I was 14, I was shacked up with a guy and living on my own. It was then that my parents got busted for cooking dope. They both went to prison and I felt really abandoned. I felt really unwanted and unloved. I just got deeper in my mess, trying to numb all of the empty feelings I had. After 10 years, both my parents were out of prison. While they were gone, I kept looking for someone to fill the void of not having a dad around. I got married for all the wrong reasons and had 2 children. I was pregnant with my 3rd child and I didn’t want another baby so I did drugs more than ever. I ended up going into labor with Zoie 2 months early and she was delivered on my father’s couch. After getting out of the hospital, all 3 of my children were taken by DHS. Praise God, my aunt and uncle took them all so they have never been separated from each other. This was truly rock bottom for me. My children meant the world to me. I decided to get some help because I never had examples or discipline in my life. I will never forget that moment of feeling so lost, hurt, worthless and afraid. It was then that I cried out to Jesus and asked for my babies back and for a different way of living. God showed me His grace by using what meant the most to me to show me His plan for my life the whole time. Here I am 9 months later a completely changed woman of God. I am so grateful for the most amazing people here at Freedom House who have shown me tough love and a true example of a better way of living. My family now has hope for me, my kids have a mother who will teach them the ways of the Lord and I have the joy of Jesus and Him leading and guiding my life in every situation. Jeremiah 29:11,12 “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.”
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 Tonya Leigott. I am 29 years old, from Trumann, Arkansas. I came from a very dysfunctional home. When I was younger, my parents were in a mess, along with my Aunt and Uncle, it was just kind of a family thing…When I was about 8 years old; my parents let my grandparents adopt me. My grandparents tried to give me everything that my parents couldn’t, which in turn made me spoiled and emotionally unbalanced. My best friend died leaving my 18th birthday party after a night of drinking. She was my other half, previous to this, I had already been battling extreme emotional problems and had begun cutting myself. After her death, I began using meth to cope with the loss of her and the guilt that I had because I was blaming myself. I began to self mutilate more on top of being lost in drugs and alcohol. I got to a very dark place in my life where I was so angry at the world, at God, at myself and at my family. I didn’t know what I was doing., I didn’t want to die, but I felt like I should make myself suffer for all the things that went wrong. When I was 25, I had a dream of my deceased best friend. She was pregnant. This was so odd to me because at almost 10 years of drug abuse, I had accomplished what I had set out to do and she never crossed my mind until that night in the dream. The next day, I had the urge to take a pregnancy test and the results were positive. Down inside, I knew things were changing for me, but I didn’t know what it all meant. I had my daughter, but I wasn’t a very good mom. At the age of 27, my life started to rapidly go downhill. Everything I knew and loved was being taken from me. Along with child endangerment charges and the inability to see my daughter, I was totally lost in my addiction of meth and cutting. I got arrested again and finally I was at a place of total surrender to God. I was accepted at Freedom House and since then I’ve gotten a relationship with Jesus. He’s shown me His love through my mother and father loving me, as a family again. I was able to see my daughter for the first time in over a year. Most of all, He took away that lonely, self hatred, the desire to hurt myself, the feeling that I deserved to be punished for all the things that went wrong in my life. Jesus has shown me my worth in Christ. I know the promises He has told me. I know the calling He’s put on my life and for this season in my life, He has told me to stay on at Freedom House and go through staff training to help raise up others in His kingdom. I can smile and love myself today because of Jesus. Through my obedience to Him, He is restoring my family and my relationship with my daughter. I know that God is going to use me in great and mighty ways! “Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, not that God know you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?” - Galations 4:8
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.”
*UPDATE*: Clair is still in the ministry after 5 years and is a Resident Director. She was called to Kentucky MBTC to help out our sister mission.
My name is Amy Shook. I’m 41 years old from Booneville, MS. I could go into my testimony and share all of life’s disappointments, rejections and events that led me to where I am today, but I will fast forward past the broken home as a child, being messed with sexually as a young girl, feeling abandoned from split parents and failed marriages. Those are real life issues that the enemy used to lie to me and tell me I would never amount to anything and deserved all of life’s disappointments. In 2013 I found myself in a hopeless situation and had lost everything…myself, my home, my family and I literally wanted to die. After four DUI’s, controlled substance charges and facing two grand jury cases, I found myself needing something more than my own strength to change my situations. For once, I knew that my consequences for my actions were either death or prison. In January 2014 my family found a place called Restoration Ranch Mission Bible Training Center in Tuscumbia, AL. When they told me it was an 8 – 10 month program, I thought, “There is no way I’m going to do that!” In reality I had no other choice. Little did I know that this would be the most difficult season in my life, it was the foundation of a LIFE TRANSFORMATION to the calling Jesus has for me today. At the Ranch, I learned discipline, perseverance and to endure the giants that were put before me. Another thing I encountered during that season was the love of Jesus and Family. As I completed the program, Jesus had done so many miracles in my life and spoke to me that this was to be the ministry where He wanted to use me. I was fighting my own flesh, but Jesus took care of my court cases, my son’s college tuition, room and board and so much more that there were just too many confirmations for me not to surrender my life to the calling He had placed before me. I did my staff training in Alabama and completed that season in July of 2015. In August I began to pray and ask the Lord what was next. It was then that I heard the Lord say many times “It’s time to go.” In my flesh I took that word to mean that I could go home and live a “normal” life, but in my heart I knew that was a lie. The truth was He had called me out to help with opening a new Mission Teens center in Holcomb, Missouri. Soooo, here I am and in a totally different season of my life. I stand in awe of His promises and all that He is doing here at Freedom House. The process from glory to glory has been revealed in my life. I am now learning grace and what it is like to be merciful. God is revealing to me that I had go through all of His discipline to learn His grace. It’s all new and humbling to experience the heart change and condition that is taking place in my life. I am now a director at the center and I know what it is like to truly give back. When I signed up to help open Freedom House, I really had no idea where I was going, what it would be like and what He was going to be teaching me. It has been an amazing experience to see God fill the house up. He has been providing for us in so many ways. We are truly grateful to all of you who are obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit in helping us with our daily needs, finances and prayerful support. We had no idea the blessings that He was going to be providing. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a great support of other staff members who also heard the call of Jesus to serve at Freedom House. None of us receive a paycheck for what we do, but we all know that we have the best retirement package waiting for us. Getting to see lives changed and how faithful Jesus is in my own life is my paycheck.
My name is Jordan Long and I am 26 years old. I’m from Trumann, AR. I was raised by my grandparents since I was 5 months old.My parents were on drugs and didn’t want to raise me and haven’t ever really been a significant part of my life. I made fairly good grades in school. When I was 14 my grandpa died from emphazema and throat cancer and it really hurt me and changed my life and my grandmother’s life but I have always hid my emotions. In 2008 two weeks before I graduated high school I started smoking marijuana because I wanted to celebrate. About 6 months later I came home from work one night and my brother and his girlfriend were there smoking meth and my brother asked me if I wanted to try it and I thought “why not?” because I was kinda depressed at the time because reality hit hard after high school and life wasn’t what I expected it to be. I didn’t know it at the time but it turned out to be the worst decision I have ever made in my life. I forgot to mention that this happened about a year and a half after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at a revival at Maple Grove Baptist Church in Trumann, AR. After I started smoking marijuana and meth every day I stopped going to church and stopped going to work and lived off of my grandma while lying to her about everything I was doing. It was not long until I get into trouble with the law and got thrown in jail for a few months and would have spent a lot more time in jail if I had not went to the House of Hope Mission Bible Training Center in Brazil, IN to seek help. I spent a year there and grew a lot in the Lord and stayed on after graduating the program to be an assistant counselor to help other people with various drug and alcohol problems. But the truth is that we all had a Jesus problem and tried to fill the void we all have with drugs instead of with Jesus. After I left the mission in 2009, it wasn’t long till I was back using drugs again because I didn’t stay in church and I didn’t continue to read my Bible every day. I stayed out of trouble with the law for the most part until about 6 months ago. I then decided to come back to Mission Teens and this is how I got here. I am now a trainee counselor and I am excited to see what God is going to do in my life and everyone else’s life that is here. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” Matthew 6:26
My name is Joseph Owens. I’m 27 years old. I was a drug addict most of my life. I was born in Paragould, Arkansas. I can remember times before I tried meth, but I never remember a time when it wasn’t in my life. My parents were both addicts and dealers. In the 2nd grade I woke up early one morning and decided to try coffee, but I didn’t know it had been made with filters from cooking dope. My dad decided to keep me home from school that day. I have always thought drugs and fighting was normal in families. I spent most of my childhood alone, as I remember these things, my eyes fill with tears and I am very angry. “The Lord replied, Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Jonah 4:4. I know God speaks to me. His word is very much alive. I believed that drugs and fighting was life for so long that I brought it in to my marriage. Meth and verbal abuse. I was such a terrible person and even though my actions could cause a wife to seek comfort from others, I believe that God is going to restore my marriage. I have been at Freedom House for 4 months now. God has my whole family clean and sober. He tells me to continue. I know now that salvation comes from the Lord and even though I feel very much alone without my wife, I know that I am not alone. God has placed me with people who will not leave me alone, brothers and sisters who are ready to go to war by dropping to their knees and praying to Jesus. IT’s very strange how things seem to work. Just like Jonah, God has a plan for me and I choose to do it cheerfully. God chose me and in Christ I live. My life is so little about me and so much about others. Pray for people because I WAS that dirty little kid that you would drive by and see. “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” Psalm 1:3
My name is Robert Jones. I am 36 years old from Jackson, MS. My life has been hard from the very start. I was born with a hole in my heart and 2 ruptured hernias in my abdomen; I am told that during this time, I contracted scarlet fever. I was a very sick baby. I survived this only to be abandoned by my father at age 2, and I was physically and sexually assaulted by someone close to me until age 8. My mother re-married during this time to a man who would adopt me, but again I was abandoned by this father at age 12. My mother became devastated by the tornado that was my family’s life and became another victim to alcoholism and drug addiction. I followed. By age 16 I had done every drug known to addicts, with no way to support my habit except to steal. During this time my mother desperately wanted a father figure for my life, I just wanted a mother. She got involved in many abusive relationships in which I was responsible for coming to her rescue, domestic violence calls almost weekly. Instead of going to church when I had the time, I chose crack cocaine. At age 19 I received a 20 year prison sentence as a result of drug addiction and for the next 10 years I was incarcerated for crimes I did and did not commit. During this time I was a member of the vice lords gang and did some of the hardest time you can imaging. No longer a victim, but a cold, angry man unwilling to let another human being get close to him. I have practiced Islam and prayed to Allah. But, one day I stopped praying to Allah and prayed to Jesus. See this Allah never answered me once, but immediately after just one prayer, Jesus answered back. The next Sunday in a little prison cell I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. After my release from prison I was homeless. My mother and father and both grandparents were deceased and I had nowhere to go. I trusted Jesus to take care of me and for the past 8 years it has been a journey from place to place looking for a home, a family. I’ve been alone for a lot of years doing everything by myself, but not today. Christ really does care about one man, I am proof and that’s why I chose to be a Christian. He loves the unlovable and chose me when no one else would. I’m Robert Jones and this is my story. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
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.”
My name is Kent Anderson. I am the youngest of 3 boys from a loving stay at home mother and a hard working father. Wanting to fit in to what the world called popular was my downfall. I wanted to do all the things other kids did who had material things. I was spoiled and didn’t even know it because others had more material things than I had but they didn’t have a father who took them fishing and hunting or a mother who spent time working in the yard or catching butterflies or going on nature walks and looking at wildflowers. I had it all and didn’t know it so I turned to drugs wanting to fit in. From 12 to 32 my story is like every other drug addict. In 1999 I was in jail and I asked Jesus into my heart and I meant it. I went on to prison that year, got out in 2000, started using again but things were different. I kept getting caught. See, now that I was sealed, I couldn’t continue to sin without God chastening me. My struggles were not over, but now I had the Holy Spirit convicting me. Finding myself back in jail in 2013, someone told me about a Mission Teens center in Tuscumbia, Alabama. He told me that there were fishing ponds and that it was co-ed and FREE and that it was a place where I could learn more about Jesus. I was sold!! I was going to get out of jail and have a free vacation for 8 – 10 months…31 months later I was still there and I felt the Lord telling me to sign up to help pioneer the new center in Holcomb, Missouri. Not needing to fit into what the world says is popular and knowing who I am in Jesus Christ has given me purpose. I have always had a heart for others and Mission Teens has given me an avenue to serve. Without obedient people listening to God when He puts it on their hearts to give, none of this would be possible. My life has purpose now because of their obedience. Thank you all.
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?
My name is Jerrel Gillentine and I was born in 1978. When I was born, my father started seeking after God and made sure that I was going to church. I received Jesus into my heart when I was 7 years old. I now know that even though I was making bad choices, He was with me and He was protecting me. My dad owned a body shop, so, as early as second grade I can remember going there after school to sweep the floors and clean up. Then I would go home to do my chores there. I have 10 siblings. I always looked up to my older brother and sister and wanted to be around them every chance I got. They introduced me to pot and alcohol when I was very young. My brother would say; “smoke this” or “drink that” and I would because I wanted to be “cool”. I dropped out of school in the 8th grade; I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant and came up with a plan to marry her, work at my dad’s shop, raise my child and pay my own bills. This sounded like a good plan, but we were both very young and neither one of us knew how to be a partner or a parent. I would come home and see men running out the back door because my wife was cheating on me. I knew what was going on, but I just started drinking more and taking more pills. When I was 17, I got a loan, bought a house and some land, and hoped that the “things” would make us a happy family. They didn’t. I ended up getting into a really bad wreck on my motorcycle. I fractured my skull and was in a coma for 3 days. Thank God He spared my life again. Things just got worse at home until I finally made the decision to leave when I was 21. I ended up getting into more trouble, this time robbing stores, getting caught and doing time in prison. My brother committed suicide and I remembered that the only peace he ever had was when he was reading his Bible. I know the Lord was talking to me through this revelation about my brother. So, when I was at my worst, I decided to give God a try. My dad, who had been seeking after God every since I was born, was now a teacher at a Mission Teens center, so he knew exactly where I needed to go. I completed the program and went back out into the world and did really good for a while. Then I started slipping into my old habits until I finally made the decision to go back and get restored to God. I have been back since May and in November I transferred to Missouri to be a pioneer and help where I felt God wanted me to be. Since I have been here, the Lord has blessed me with a peace that I didn’t have before. I am blessed with a new family in Christ and I am excited to see how His plan for my life is unfolding. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
My name is Bradley Wince. I am 35 years old, from Paragould, AR. I had a fair childhood. When I was in the first grade people made fun of me because I had a patch on my eye because a pit bull bit me in the eye and my eye had to be put back in. I was never the same after that. A month before I graduated high school I lost my dad and 4 of my close friends. I was supposed to be with my friends that night, but I got sick and didn’t go out with them. They were partying and drinking and my dad was going to work. My friends crossed the center line in a vehicle that I was supposed to be in and hit my dad head on and they all died. From that point, I gave up. I started shooting up meth to kill the pain. I had to go to all 5 funerals and that was very hard on me. I started getting into a lot of trouble. My mom heard about Mission Teens and sent me to the center in Michigan. I didn’t complete the program, but I did meet Jesus and I did well for about 5 years. I eventually fell back into my mess, lost my job and ended up in trouble again. The judge offered me to go to rehab or prison so I went to Mission Teens in Marked Tree, AR. This cycle went on for several years. Go to the Mission, do good…fall…repeat. I entered Crossville MBTC about 9 months ago. This time was different-finally I surrendered to God - EVERYTHING. I know that if I go back into the world and mess up again, I may not make it back this time. I was offered the chance to come help open the Freedom House and I know the Lord told me to come. I am very excited to be a part of this. It’s a lot of hard work, but I can’t wait to see the people who are going to get to come here. I praise God for being patient with me and giving me so many chances.