In the previous post, our guest “Rhonda” shares how she got sucked into a lifestyle that lead her to a place of hopelessness as she struggled with a drug addiction so demanding, she chose the drug over her babies. This is Part 2 of Rhonda’s story. My prayer is that in her testimony, you will find hope for your own story, or that of a loved one who writhes in the merciless grasp of addiction.
After I lost two-year-old Emily, gave up my baby, Caleb for adoption and found out I was HIV positive, I spiraled downward to a low, dirty “bottom.” From that place, something started changing within me. In a subtle, calm way I began experiencing the unexplainable feeling that I was being “drawn out” of the street life I lived. I didn’t know how or when I would become free, but eventually I looked back and realized my gut feeling was right. Thank God!
Things started happening. Guys locked me out instead of letting me in. My gas pedal fell off. I would get high and feel like people’s prayers were keeping me from getting high! Other homeless addicts would randomly ask me, “Have you prayed lately?” One guy, a chiropractor/acupuncturist I tricked with a lot asked me when I was going to get clean. It was strange. Me, get clean? No way!
I was getting tired of running the streets. Cops who knew me began stopping me for no reason. I did two weeks in jail for no proof of registration! I had been in and out of jail before, but strange things even began happening in jail.
One day, I felt in my belly, my gut, that I was supposed to go to Tampa with this girl, Lisa, in Room 1. I was in Room 4. So I walked over to her room and she said, “Come to Tampa with me.” You can imagine the look on my face as her words confirmed my gut feeling. She gave me her number and we kept in touch over the years.
Lisa never gave up on me. She began searching for me on the streets, ministering to me off and on over the next two years. I went to jail a couple more times. In 2004, Lisa picked me up one last time and took me to her house in Tampa. God used an ordinary woman to do exceptional things.
Lisa is a strong-willed person and was good at meeting me where I was. She’d also had a rough life, but she was a good, responsible Christian woman, so I felt safe with her. When we arrived at her home, she gave me a drink and we talked. She said, “We’ll find some local rehabs or a place for you to go.” I did not take her seriously, or I was foggy about what I wanted to do. I’m not sure which.
Every other time I had gotten out of jail, I went back to the street. This time, going back wasn’t on my mind. Getting clean wasn’t on my mind either. I didn’t know what to do. Lisa did not realize God was using her. She was firm yet loving in her guidance. She never judged me. I always felt safe with her.
We ONLY visited inpatient faith-based rehab programs in Tampa. Some were full, some were not available “right now.” But one was. She drove me to Christlike Ministries located in a ghetto on Orient Road in a bad part of Tampa. They had newly opened Georgia House, a faith-based drug program for women run by a Pentecostal church. This is where my relationship with Jesus and freedom from crack cocaine began. This is where my life of homelessness and prostitution ended.
There were twelve beds, one bathroom and no A/C in that small 3 bedroom house. To my knowledge, there was no license, no state inspection and no insurance to operate a “rehab.” The house previously was the pastor’s mother’s home and her name was Georgia, hence the name, “Georgia House.”
When we arrived, Lisa and I were escorted to the “sanctuary” (enclosed porch) where a black woman with long pretty braids introduced herself as, “Ms. Priscilla, the House Mother.” She explained the program in detail while I only half-heard what she said. She must have read the “I don’t want to be here” in my face, because that sweet woman said, “Honey, all I have to offer you is Jesus.” She was right.
I felt pressured into agreeing to stay as Priscilla and my friend looked at me with their innocent little eyes. So I did. I agreed to stay. Reality hit me at that moment as my thoughts wrestled one another. I am not in control anymore. I have to let go and let God. Wait, I never was in control. This is part of Gods plan for me.
Somehow I knew staying was right, so I did it. Life began to change in ways I never imagined. I entered the Georgia House willingly, but grieved the loss of my best friend, Crack Cocaine. It was hard. I missed the freedom of being homeless, but didn’t react to my feelings or respond to my emotions. I know it was God who gave me the courage to stay, because that was not my normal nature.
Three days after I entered Georgia House, a missionary named Pastor Israel arrived. She lived in my room. We already had six beds in there. Us ex-prostitute, slummy street girls were not ready for what this amazingly faithful woman of God was bringing to us! Her program included Bible study three times a day (morning, afternoon and evening), and hours of worship. Every. Single. Day. Sweet Ms. Priscilla with the long braids would come into my room at 3:00 a.m. banging a loud tambourine and singing. She ordered us to the sanctuary with our pillows and Bibles, to pray and worship on our knees.
I spent hours crying and worshiping God. I cried for the pain I had caused others. I cried because I missed my relationship with crack cocaine. I cried because my life was a mess. My credit was ruined. My reputation was smeared. My license was suspended. My boyfriend was 90 miles away. My kids were adopted out. I was HIV positive. I cried because these people were strangers. I cried because I was scared.
I began worshiping God because I was told to. Then I began worshiping God because He saved me from death. Then I worshiped Him for this life. Finally, I worshiped God because he is God. Those two ladies, Priscilla and Pastor Israel taught me to praise God in the middle of the storm, and I did. I worshiped him, on my knees for hours every day. At first I didn’t understand what it was like to be close to God and I couldn’t hear him telling me anything. I didn’t know it then, but the closeness would come, with time.
This “program” was different than the others I had been in before. Ms. Priscilla was loving and more God-driven than any other house mother. Other programs just didn’t work for me. I was never good at conforming to “addiction programs” with rigid rules, strict deadlines and counselors with no addiction experience. The stress of those programs overwhelmed me. That was why I stayed on the streets. Not here. Not at Georgia House. Ms. Priscilla met me where I was and kindly helped me adjust to the changes. I finally had a desire to let go of crack cocaine and do something different. That opened the door for my freedom from drug addiction.
I treated Pastor Israel, the missionary who came to stay with us, like a queen and clung to her every teaching. She prophesied over me, laid hands on me, and held me like a mom holds her baby. She taught me everything she knew. For five long months I drank in her teachings in our Bible study classes. I think the other ladies were jealous, but that was their choice. I chose to take advantage of that Jesus Ms. Priscilla had told me about.
I had not been around Christian people much, so being around these godly women was new, safe and nice. Pastor Israel and Ms. Priscilla taught me manners. They called me out on bad behavior, and they taught me how to be a lady (kinda hard for an ex-prostitute). I told Pastor Israel my darkest secrets. She prayed over my heart and my belly. She sometimes ministered to me until 4:00 a.m. in that little sanctuary in a little old house in the ghetto. And her ministry changed me. Nothing I told her fazed her. She told me God loved me anyway and forgives me.
I had many exhausting questions. Jesus answered them all. He promised me the same thing He promised the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
I was desperate for a change. Desperate for love, truth and holiness. Everywhere I went, I carried a handwritten index card with the words “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” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I read it when I was alone or away from the house because I was afraid I would snap and go back to the street like I had done before.
I never snapped though. Eventually my fears went away. Getting used to a normal life took time, but God opened new doors. I began to look for work. Ms. Priscilla and Pastor Israel told me to claim the job I wanted in Jesus name, and I did. I got the job!
By the time my time at the program was completed, my life was changed forever. I was really a new person! I had quit smoking, cursing, and sleeping around. I loved wearing long skirts and feeling clean from the street life. I was shocked by the power of the Scriptures to give me freedom from crack cocaine! But they worked! Jesus Himself said it best, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). I am free indeed!
God has set me free. I am free because God used faithful teachers and pastors to love, pray and teach me. I am free from crack cocaine because people were praying for me while I was still homeless, smoking crack, and committing crimes. You might not see an answer to your prayers right away, but God hears them. Do not stop praying for your loved ones who are “out there.” Our prayers matter. People who cannot pray for themselves rely on us to pray for them.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
I now pray for others who are in active addiction. My deliverance did not happen overnight. I was still greedy and full of flesh for many years. Freedom comes by firmly resisting the devil and praying the Scriptures out loud. I have not “arrived,” but am still a work in progress, even after eleven years.
In 2008, I finished college with a Bachelors in Accounting. Then a good job, a great husband and twin babies came along. My dad and sister eventually took small steps toward getting to know me again. Now we have great relationships. By the grace of God, I have excellent credit, close Christian friends, own a nice home and have cutie pie seven-year-old, boy-girl twins. God has restored my life!
Every single day I wake up with an unspeakable joy and praise to God because there was a time I thought I would never get off drugs!
If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction, the best thing for them is prayer. Read the scriptures in prayer and intercede for them. God will pull at their heart strings and bring them out, if they chose Him. He can’t force them, but He will do everything He can to help them say “yes” to Him.
That doesn’t mean you will be the one helping them. It is sometimes best if strangers help them because you will be in the flesh too much to hear the spirit speak. Addiction is a demon. It is not the person. Addiction takes a person and makes them a monster. But, do not lose hope. My life is proof that someone can come from being molested, prostituted and drug addicted and doing a whole 180 degree turn by way of Jesus Christ’s power. I was not a serious believer in Jesus before, but I sure was by the time I got clean in that little Georgia House full of love.
“Rhonda” is an 11 year – recovering cocaine addict who found Jesus in a jail cell. She hardly fits the stereotypical picture of a cocaine addict, having come from a “nice” family who was devastated by the choices she made as a young person. Rhonda brings encouragement and hope to others who struggle with addiction. She shares her painful journey only to reveal the glory of God. Rhonda lives in “The South” with her husband and 7 year old twins.