Amanda was born with hearing loss, a disability that made her self-conscious around others. It led her to become a people-pleaser, as a way to overcome the difficulty of making friends. Later in high school, when pleasing others meant experimenting with drugs, Amanda eagerly traded sobriety for acceptance.
“I did whatever it took to be accepted,” remembers Amanda. “As soon as I started doing drugs, all of a sudden I had friends and I started fitting in.”
To Amanda, it seemed like a minor compromise. The drugs didn’t get in the way of the important things – she still managed to graduate and even found a steady, well-paying job at a law firm. But when she was 25, her boyfriend turned her on to something that would quickly eclipse all her priorities.
“Once I tried heroin, all bets were off. Everything up to that point had been recreational. This was different. I loved it. After two weeks I started to become physically dependent on it. Within two months, I lost my job at the law firm because all I wanted to do was get high.”
Over the next 12 years, Amanda would continue to cede ground in her life to addiction. Relationships, possessions, her home, even her freedom, were slowly devoured bit by bit until June of 2017 – when she finally had nothing left to give. Amanda found herself homeless. But worse than that, she was homeless in the worst possible time and place – summer in Phoenix.
It didn’t take long for Amanda to realize she was in trouble. She didn’t need anyone to explain to her the dangers of braving the summer heat day in and day out – she was living it.
“It was so hot, I thought I was going to die. I would go inside stores to get cool, but they would kick me out. I tried to stay hydrated the best I could by sneaking water from McDonalds, but I was still walking all day, trying to survive. It was exhausting.”
One hot day, the exhaustion caught up with Amanda. When she lay down to rest, she didn’t realize how close she came to never waking up.
“I woke up on a bench with paramedics around me. They said I had passed out from the heat. That was pretty scary.”
If God hadn’t intervened, it could have easily been the end of the story for Amanda – as it is for an average of 180 others who don’t survive the summer every year in Arizona. Thankfully, God had a better plan.
Shortly after, Amanda was caught with drugs by her probation officer and was given a choice – prison or recovery. She chose recovery at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center – but she wasn’t happy about it.
“I came here kicking and screaming. When they told me I would be here for a year I said ‘No way! Are you kidding me?’”
One thing each of our graduates can attest to – the enemy doesn’t give up ground willingly. It took time, but slowly, the sobriety, the love and encouragement of our staff and our counselors and some prompting by God Himself, helped Amanda to see her situation for what it truly was.
“I was crying every day for two weeks, but then God told me, ‘Look, you cannot control this situation. So why don’t you make the best of it?’ I was finally just like, ‘Ok, let’s do this.’”
This July marks two years since Amanda walked through our doors – and thanks to God and to the support of our friends – the change has been amazing.
“This program really let me know who God is and how to have an actual relationship with Him. I had always thought; I’m just going to be a junkie for the rest of my life. I didn’t really think there was any hope. But coming here and seeing all the transformation God has done for others, and witnessing my own transformation, it’s an indescribable feeling. I know who I am in Christ and know what I’m worth and what I deserve.”
Through your prayers and support, Amanda is spending this summer safe from the deadly heat. Even better – she’s encouraging others to do the same!
After graduation, she was accepted into our Servant Leadership program and currently works in our R.A.P. (Rescue-Assess-Place) Unit, helping women and mothers with children find freedom from life-controlling problems.
“I just get so excited to share the love and the grace of God with these ladies when they come in. They’re ashamed, they’re scared, they’ve done things in their life, and I get to help them realize that God loves them no matter what and can use their story for amazing things. I just love to be a part of that, being able to give people hope! If I can be out there, doing drugs, shoplifting, sleeping in alleys, pushing grocery carts everywhere I go, and now I can be doing this? They can do it too – there’s hope in recovery. It’s possible.”
Amanda is just one example of the thousands of men, women and children on our streets, right now, who are in danger from the summer heat. Thank you for the support, whether it comes in the form of time, talent or treasure, that continues to provide hope to those caught on the streets this summer. God bless!