I would like to start by saying thank you for letting me share my testimony with you today. I believe that a testimony is a powerful thing so I am happy to share mine with you today. I was born in California on October 7th 1996. My birth mom was addicted to drugs and alcohol, was jobless and in no way was ready to take on a child. I was not the first child she had though. My sister, Sabrina, was her first child. My mom, technically my aunt, agreed to adopt Sabrina when she was born because my birth mom knew that she was not ready for a child. But when my mom wanted to take me too, my birth mom claimed that she was trying to steal her children away. I was given to my aunt Alice until my mom went to court and fought for custody. She won the case against my birth mom and gained legal guardianship over me when I was 2.
My adoptive dad, Mel worked on radio towers for the Christian channel on television and my mom had a home day care. We had more than enough money and food and for the most part life was good. I was able to see my friends every day because of the daycare. I visited my aunt Alice frequently who I was very close to. Going forward just 4 years after I had been given to a financially stable Christian home, everything began to go wrong. Mel stopped going to church. He was rarely home because of work and my parents very rarely seemed happy.
One night I was woken up late at night and was told that we were going to Aunt Alice’s. When we got there mom ran inside screaming and yelling. Aunt Alice sat me and Sabrina down on the couch and told us to try to sleep. Mom was still yelling about Mel over and over again but I didn’t understand why. I was only six when I saw mom run out of the house and slap Mel when he showed up with his new girlfriend. The man I trusted and considered to be my dad, a person I’m supposed to be able to look up to, had cheated on my mom after 20 years of marriage. He had become addicted to gambling drugs and alcohol. He abandoned his children and threw away the life that he would give anything for today. My mom was crushed.
She went into a deep depression and because of his actions and choices I lost both my mom and dad. My mom moved us to Louisiana the next day. Frist we went to Shreveport and I was able to start building a life for myself. I made friends and even got to know the neighbors. We were there about 3 months when my mom tells us that Mel will be coming to live with us. It didn’t last long. One night I woke up to the sound of him yelling at mom telling her to turn off the radio. He was high or drunk and just got back from gambling away our money. She told him over and over again that there was no radio but he didn’t believe her. He hit her multiple times until he saw me watching and started to run for my room. Mom tried to hold him back yelling leave them alone but he swung back hitting her in the throat sending her what seemed to me something like 10 feet back onto the bed. I was able to shut and lock the door right before he got to it. I heard him yell that he would kill me and my sister when he got to us.
He punched the door so hard he broke a hole the size of a plate in one side of the door. My sister called the police and when he heard the sirens he ran out of the house to the car a drove off. I was 7. After the school year we moved to another spot in Louisiana. When mom heard from Mel she again believed that he had changed and again invited him to live with us. He again came drunk after gambling but we were quicker this time. When we saw that he was about to cause a scene we ran for the phone but he saw us and tried to stop us. Mom tried to hold him back but he was still too strong for her. Again somehow my sister and I managed to escape long enough for the police to arrive and I watched as he was dragged away. I was 8. We moved again. This became a cycle. Same year as the second one I was in the car. Mom was yelling for him to stop and let us out. Every time she did he would go faster and faster.
Every time something would happen we would move. I never went to a school for more than 1 year. When I was 10 I had gone through 6 or 7 moves, stayed in multiple shelters and was even sent to California with my sister back to my birth mom for 3 months because my mom could not support us because she could not find work. We stayed in a house covered in kitty litter and dirty laundry with little to no food alongside my birth mom her 4th husband and my 2 little sisters, Satasha and Devon. Sometimes we would have nothing to eat but tums but somehow we were happy together. We stayed for Christmas and it wasn’t the worst but wasn’t the best of my life either. When mom brought us back she had settled things with Mel for good and we were now living in an apartment in Bedford Texas. Mom though she had settled things between her and Mel was still in a deep depression and rarely came out of her room after work. Though all of this me and Sabrina had grown closer and closer.
Because we had moved so many times we both did not have strong friendships and mom was very reclusive. If we needed something we came to each other for it. Mom was still in the mind thought that she needed a man in her life and so she started to get on different dating sites and would look for people. She eventually met Bob. He was a doctor and had plenty of money and a big house and was all the comfort mom thought she needed. We ended up moving into his house in Arlington and I started to go to school there. Things seemed good. He taught me how to do a lot of the things I know how to do today on the computer and was good to my mom and sister. Then he lost his job. We couldn’t afford the house and so we needed to move. A house was for sale in a little town called Lake Dallas. It was lake front property and had a huge lot with a pool and a ski channel in the back but it needed a lot of work.
This is when things started to change. He became very controlling and very demanding. It went from us working on a few things to me working from when I got home to when I went to bed. I never went anywhere during the summer and I never went to any friends or activities. I wasn’t allowed to join and sport or be part of any clubs. I worked and went to school. Even during free time I was no longer able to play video games which are what I always used to escape when life was hard. Sabrina was not allowed to read anything but non-fiction. Even when we watched tv which was only during dinner he always choose the channel or the show. I was lonely but I was also used to being alone because I had been my entire life but now my sister was separated from me because she was always inside working. I was separated from what I enjoyed doing and I was forced to do hard work every day to the point of exhaustion. It got to the point that I couldn’t even control my own appearance. I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair in any other way than having it buzzed to a half inch. While working I was to wear a white tee-shirt and a flannel over shirt and when I went to school I had to wear a tee-shirt and jeans. I became so divided from people that I became very socially awkward around people at school and any chance of gaining friends was lost.
When I was in middle school Cody thought I was mentally challenged because all I would do is stand in the lunch line and whistle to myself the entire time. Bob could not find work so my mom now had to support all of us again but she got a job right away and somehow we always managed to find enough for the bills and food. After 2 years of not being allowed out of the house I was given one hour after school to go do whatever I wanted. For a while I just went to the park or road around until my time was up because I didn’t have any friends but it was still the greatest time I had. The work continued to get harder and harder restrictions became stricter and stricter but that one hour was never touched. If I messed something up or something broke or anything happened I would be blamed and would be punished harshly sometimes getting smacked to the ground and hit but I always had that one hour of freedom. The hits turned to blows and the punishments to beatings. I would sometimes have sharp and dangerous tools thrown at me but somehow I was never seriously hurt or scared and I always had my one hour. It was close to the end of my 6th grade year when my mom was able to regain control and send him away to California. It was only then that I was told of the terrible horrifying things he did to the people I was closest to. My mom was tormented constantly by the thoughts he put in her head. She was never able to find peace and comfort even in her own house. He did terrible things to Sabrina but the most devastating thing to me was that I blamed myself constantly because all these terrible happened while I was gone. It all happened during the only time that I gave to myself. It all happened during that one hour a day. I was depressed and I felt a deeper sadness than I have ever felt. I felt so alone. I had betrayed the only person I could rely on. I had allowed harm to come to her while I was enjoying myself. I was at a breaking point. I lay in my bed every night just thinking about my life. I thought about the men that had all walked out and gave up on me. I thought about how my mom was never really there. I thought about how I had no friends and no hope for any of them. I tried to think of anything I enjoyed anymore and I couldn’t think of anything. I tried to think of the people that now relied on me and I couldn’t think of anyone. I thought about the pain I caused and the suffering that could have been avoided. I tried to think of anyone that would miss me and I thought to myself if they knew what I could have kept from happening they couldn’t miss me. I was in a very dark place and I thought that I deserved to be there. I blamed myself for everything that had happened. I had thoughts about how much better off everyone would be if I weren’t there. I broke. I looked over at my desk and I had only 2 things on top of it. One was a pocket knife and the other was the bible I hadn’t touched in years. I hadn’t gone to church in years and I hadn’t even given him a thought but in that moment I had a choice and somehow I choose to pick up the bible and that night I read. I read until I fell asleep with the bible in my hands and I remember that before I did I finished the book of Matthew and for the first time in months I smiled because I had a reason to. I had so much peace after that night. All my worried were forgotten at least for a little while. I didn’t realize what was happening until about a week later. When I realized what he had done I got down on my knees and I prayed to Him asking him to be my personal Lord and Savior. From then on I have tried to live my life for the Lord because he gave me purpose for my life again.
Mid-7th grade I’m riding my bike around town and I stop at a street corner and watch to people I don’t know at all try to kick a ball over each other’s heads so they have to chase it. One was a boy one was a girl and they looked like brother and sister. I was waiting for the bus to drop off a guy that was kinda my friend but not really. Anyway the boy sees me just sitting there and even when most people would have just waited for me to leave like I probably would have because it is really weird to have some random weird kid sit and stare at you and your sister for half an hour but instead of ignoring me they invite me to join them. They introduced themselves as Jonathan and Autumn and I haven’t left them alone since. They introduced me to Lake Shore and I started to go to the youth services. I started to grow closer and closer to Christ and soon I started going to Sunday service as well. I became part of the youth group and I had people I could rely on. I forgave myself. We still struggled financially because the earlier events left my mom’s credit devastated but when it was time for Panfork and D-now the church sent me.
At Panfork I started to get to know Neely better and when we got back we continued to run together. We became brother and sister to each other. When we started to get close her parents naturally would want to know who this random kid their daughter calls bro is so they heard I was trying to earn some extra money and invited me to come mow the lawn and also to dinner. I’m really not sure how but the next thing I know Chad is telling me that if I am willing to be a brother to her daughter he is willing to be a father to me. God has provided me with so much. We aren’t by any means rich but we are stable. We have a house and great landowners. I have a church family. I have a dad to help me grow into the person I want to be. I have goals for my life. I have been separated from all the bad people that were in my life. I have good friends that love God and encourage me. I have a girlfriend that I can talk about God with. I have pastors that are willing to help me when I need guidance but the greatest gift of all is that Christ has given Himself so that I may have a personal relationship with him.
I’ve been studying 1st Corinthians and these verses really stood out to me so I would like to share them.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom, for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1st Corinthians 2:1-5