Knowing first hand what if feels like to be a victim of sexual violence and carry deep shame. I spent years afraid to look anyone in the eyes; I was scared someone may see the filth that I felt on the inside. I felt like my life was not only a failure, but I was nothing more than a piece of trash tossed away and forgotten. I spent most of my childhood and early adult life running from myself.
I was introduced to the sex-trafficking industry at a young age and became an intravenous drug user at 14 yr. old. Before I turned 18 I had been raped several times, and I was devastating when I found out I was pregnant. Not knowing how to take care of a baby, I “thought” my best option was to have an abortion. This only caused deeper shame and trauma that further wounded my soul. Burying the pain of my decision I delved deeper into the drug culture where I was later beaten and left for dead, overdosed several times, incarcerated, and eventually lived on the streets. By accident I found myself involved in the drug cartel, and my life spiraled further out of control. The only glimmer of hope came when a woman I didn’t know reached out to me. This angel shared the Gospel with me, and it changed my life forever. However, I could not stay sober and I didn’t know why, so I continued my drug use for several more years. This eventually led to 12 felonies and trafficking morphine in which I found out I was pregnant again. Several more years of extreme trauma and chaos I finally came to the end of myself, and I was all alone. God was the only hope I had left.
It was hard for me to imagine that God or anyone could love someone like me. Surprisingly, he took me as I was, and I didn’t have anything to lose except my pride. I finally took the first step and went to Teen Challenge, a christian discipleship program, recommended through a loving friend. It was there that I discovered the amazing and never-ending love of God. I realized my drug use was a result of my unresolved pain that I had been running from for years. I tried several times to stop using drugs, but it wasn’t until I realized that God loved me that I was empowered to do so. This revelation enabled me to walk through the process of restoration and wholeness and I discovered my true identity in Christ. I rid myself of the shame of my past, and dedicated my life to helping people just like me.
Within two short years of completing the program, I received custody back of my daughter and found true love. I graduated from the University of Alabama with a Master’s Degree in Social Work; this was a huge accomplishment for someone who always felt like a failure. I founded 7 Springs Ministries in 2014 with my husband, Daniel Hughes, and expanded our women’s program known as the Esther House. A ministry that brings hope and restoration for women rescued from sex-trafficking, abusive relationships, and the hopelessness of addiction. My life has been a journey; with no regrets. If God can do it for me than he can do it for someone else.
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