Joining Jesus on the Streets
To passersby it is just an abandoned truck stop in Waco, Texas but for Samantha it’s a reminder of one of the lowest points of her life. When she was homeless and looking for her next high, it is where she would come to take an occasional shower and connect with her drug dealer.
“Back then I had nothing, no worth, no self respect, no dignity, no value. I hated life,” said Samantha. She remembers the day she first began to feel that way. She was only six years old when she witnessed her mother’s boyfriend shoot and kill her father. “It was horrific. I remember all the cops and my father being covered in a white sheet and the color of the blood. I think the family died when he died. I think our childhood with him. My mother died with him because she then turned to alcohol and drugs and her life spiraled out of control.”
Eventually child protective services stepped in and Samantha bounced from one foster home to another. “When you go into a foster home they have their own family going on. I found myself constantly trying to fit in and be that child that they already had- - and you just can’t. I struggled with identity and self-esteem. I didn’t feel like I belonged to anyone.”
Once out on her own, Samantha continued to struggle. At age 24, she became addicted to painkillers while being treated for a kidney infection. When the prescriptions ran out, she turned to the streets for her next fix and was introduced to heroin. “The heroin would make me feel like Super Woman. I could function and do everything that I needed to do without feeling. So,I would shoot, smoke, snort, swallow anything I could get my hands on just to medicate all my feelings. So I didn't have to deal with reality.”
Samantha’s life became consumed by her addiction. She sometimes lived on the streets and gave birth to three children. To support her habit and her children, she resorted to forging checks. After nine years of drug abuse, she had lost the will to live. “I didn’t want to wake up. I was tired of my kids taking care of me every single day. They were coming home and cooking the meals, washing the laundry and all I could do was stay in bed and cry. I was so depressed. If I wasn’t high, I was crying.”
Samantha left a rope in her garage and sent her kids away overnight. The next morning, after writing a suicide note, she went out to the garage - but the rope was gone. “I was disappointed. Because I had plans, I had plans to die that day. I wasn’t going to exist anymore. I didn’t want to feel. I just fell on my knees and I cried out to God. I told Him if He really loved me, or if He really existed, He would have to save me.”
Five days later, police arrested Samantha for forgery. She was expecting to experience withdrawals from the drugs and curled up in a corner of her cell. While she waited she asked the guard for a book.
“And the guard ends up bringing me a Bible. And when I got the Bible, I was really disappointed. I thought really? A Bible? Of all things….Then, on the floor, thumbing through the pages, when I read that Jesus Christ would strengthen me- -and I knew that I needed strength, right then and there, I wanted to know this Jesus so I kept reading. I remember laying down on my mat, putting the Bible down next to me and I fell asleep. I woke up probably around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and I literally pinched myself thinking, ‘Why am I not sick?’ I never experienced a withdrawal during this time. I literally experienced a miracle.”
Instantly set free of her drug addiction, Samantha continued to read her Bible – and came to know the one who had delivered her.
“The more I was reading, the more knowledge I would get of who Jesus Christ was. I asked Jesus to forgive me for all my sins. I needed Him. I needed someone greater than myself. So, now I’m in prison and I had met Jesus Christ. I met Someone who is alive, who is living and breathing and right there with me. I was more free than I had ever been in my entire life.”
After giving her life to Christ, Samantha completed her 2 year sentence, reunited with her children, and met and married her husband Gilbert.
Today Gilbert joins Samantha, back on the streets of Waco…But this time, sharing a message of hope through the discipleship program they founded, U Matter Ministries. “In the lives of those that are Samanthas, that are out there bound to addiction. And we are offering them hope. We are introducing them to Jesus, to a Savior and a Deliverer that is alive today.”
Samantha says she no longer feels alone. In Christ she found everything she had been missing, and more. “All my life, I would see daughters and moms and dads with each other. I would literally make up stories about my pretend family. But I didn’t have to do that anymore because I do have a Daddy. God is my Daddy. There’s no limitations. I’m proof there’s no limitations when it comes to God, in total surrender.”