My life was thrown into the fire quickly when my parents divorced when I was two and my mother remarried an abusive alcoholic. Growing up in a broken home was very difficult and I dealt with feelings of rejection, depression, and severe anxiety. I was sexually abused by several men in my family for about 12 years of my childhood. To escape the pain I had developed, I began experimenting with marijuana, which soon turned into an everyday occurrence. By sixteen I had my first drink of alcohol and I was hooked.
Seeking attention in all the wrong places landed me in a lifestyle of homosexuality. Consumed by the grips of the enemy, I allowed my need to feel wanted to drag me down a path I never imagined going. After six years of living like someone I was never created to be, I felt so lost and torn apart. I started to attend church, but my heart was just not where it needed to be. Two years later I found myself homeless and hopeless. Most of my family had washed their hands of me, and I don’t blame them, I was a mess. I was so empty inside.
Tired of fighting a losing battle I reached out to a pastor in Mississippi, who then contacted Pastor Tim at Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland. At that time, circumstances did not allow for me to go to Teen Challenge immediately, but through it all God had a plan. After a long two weeks, Pastor Tim contacted me asking if I was still interested in Teen Challenge. A week later and a 24 hour bus ride from Texas, I found myself in Livingston, Tennessee.
Coming into Teen Challenge I did not know what to expect, but God knew what He was doing, even when I didn’t. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Not only was I missing a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, but I was also missing His purpose for my life. I can remember the Teen Challenge staff picking me up from the bus station and welcoming me with open arms and a genuine love I had never experienced before. That same unconditional, Godly love has captivated me ever since.
Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland is the tool that God used to transform me, to completely wreck my life. I have experienced God like never before. I now have a purpose, a future, a sense of worth. My value is no longer calculated by others, but by my merciful God. I now know who I am; I am a child of the Most High. He gives me the boldness, and I give Him the glory. The peace of God protects and covers me. He has blessed me beyond what I ever could have imagined.
I graduated from Teen Challenge here in Livingston just over two months ago and God has opened doors I never thought possible. As an intern, I now get to share the same love I encountered when I walked off that bus, God’s love. I get to see miracles take place every day. I am blessed beyond measure, and my greatest desire is to be used by God to be a blessing to others. I know that God has even more in store for me, this is only the beginning.
I made a decision months ago that I will always remember, to NEVER limit God’s ability to use me in mighty ways. Matthew 28:19 speaks volumes in my life, to go and make disciples of all the nations. Teen Challenge is known as a discipleship program, where those struggling with life controlling issues are given God’s Word to be transformed into productive disciples for the kingdom of God. And that is exactly what has occurred in my life. God has not only called me out of darkness, but He’s also called me to share His light across the world. God placed a vision inside of me and I am on a mission to see that vision fulfilled for His glory.