Pictured above: Gen, third from left, singing with the FBCH Praise Band.
I am a happy, outgoing, joyful Christian girl. I feel so blessed to be able to say that because those words haven’t always described my life. My life is very different today than it was just a few years ago. My life bares witness to the transforming power of God’s love and His Word. You see, it wasn’t too long ago that Satan had complete control of my mixed up life, using me to advance his kingdom of darkness although I didn’t know it at the time. Only God could have delivered me from Satan’s grasp.
I come from a dysfunctional family. While my father (often away in the military) loved and cared for me and my siblings, his multiple affairs, which were no secret to my mother, has left a legacy of trust issues in my life. My mother would often respond in anger and fits of rage to his infidelity. In one instance she chased my father into a crowded marketplace with a grenade threatening to kill him, herself, my two younger siblings, and everyone around.
In short, both parents had their problems. I hated my parents. Like my mother, I would also respond with anger when my mom would leave the house to gamble and drink and I was forced to care for my siblings and manage the home. I had no hope for the future. It was often my responsibility to do the cooking (on a wood stove), the laundry which included school uniforms for each of my 4 siblings, pump water from the well and carry it into the house and all of that on top of my other chores.
So for me school was an escape from home and I loved it. I loved learning. I loved the social interaction. I wanted to be involved in every club and activity that I possibly could. But when my responsibilities at home would interfere with school and my social life, it only compounded my anger and I would lash out at my mother, telling her how much I hated her which would often result in her literally beating me.
Just months away from high school graduation my entire world was turned up side down. We received word that we would be moving to Hawaii. I was uprooted from my home, school and friends; and would not be able to graduate. What made that even worse was being told that even though I was an honor student I would be placed in the 10th grade at my new school in Waipahu. This was not only discouraging, it was traumatic… a new foreign environment, having to learn a new language, with no friends and no support system! The one thing I still had was the dysfunction at home.
The downward spiral of my life escalated. I began to skip school. At 16, in order to help my family pay the rent, I began working, sometimes not getting home until 3 a.m. As my interest in school dwindled, my truancy increased. I routinely skipped school, taking the bus to the mall instead, but with no money to spend, I began shop lifting and became pretty good at it, or so I thought. At one point, my entire wardrobe consisted of items I had not paid for. Eventually I was caught stealing and my mother had to pick me up from the juvenile detention center.
My run-in with the law only increased my brazenness. My petty crimes had started me down a slippery slope that led to using drugs, then hard core drugs, and then selling drugs. I was trapped in a lifestyle I could not escape.
I tried to stop doing drugs on my own but time and time again I would relapse. The longest I could go without using was a couple months. The more I tried to stop, the more hopeless and powerless I became. After an overdose, in which I ended up in the hospital, I realized that I was completely out of control and was about to lose my life. I knew I needed help and God had brought some Christian friends into my life, but having trust issues, I could not open up and fully accept their love and counsel. Looking back on it now I can see that it was Satan who wanted to keep me isolated and alone.
A Christian friend kept encouraging me to go talk to his pastor. Reluctantly I made the call and set up an appointment. On May 4th, 2012 Pastor Barry shared with me the plan of salvation and how I needed Jesus in my life. God had prepared my heart to receive His message. It made perfect sense and with Pastor’s help I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My life was changed. I had learned the difference between knowing about Jesus and personally knowing Him. Not long after making that decision I was baptized, and Pastor Barry also referred me to a counselor, who in turn helped me to see the value of becoming part of a support group. These things, along with the inspiration and motivation of weekly worship and Bible study, were all pieces of the puzzle that God used to put my life back together.
The road of transformation hasn’t been easy. I first had to admit to myself and to others that I was an addict. Satan tried hard to keep me from doing this, but the first time I said “Hi, I’m Gen and I’m an addict.” I realized, as I broke down in tears, how freeing it was to admit that. Eventually God also convicted me about drinking alcohol and I gave it up too. I’m not sure when, but somewhere along this process I felt like I wanted something more. It’s been a growing process and I began having a daily quiet time with the Lord. The more I’ve learned to trust the Lord, the more I’ve overcome my addiction. I feel so much more secure in myself and confident to take on other challenges such as going back to college and being more active in serving the Lord.
The Word of God has changed my life by helping me to overcome my fears and insecurities about my past and my anxiety about the future. It has given me strength to deal with life’s everyday problems. His Word gives me the hope and comfort that I always wanted and was looking for, but couldn’t find anywhere else. God has taught me how to be grateful and content with what I have, and has freed me from the chains of addiction.
God is so good! He hasn’t left me since day one. I am learning I really can trust God and now I am at a point where I want other people to experience the same freedom that I’ve experienced, that comes from that trust. I want other people to know God, to come to church and be a part of a small group. I want my friends and family to be saved like I am and so I am telling everyone I know about Jesus! I am using my gifts to glorify Him now and I hope that my testimony encourages non-believers to believe in His Word and accept Jesus as their Savior, because if God can change me… he can change anybody!