Stories of Transformation: Gabriela

Gabriela had lost everything and was facing a lengthy prison sentence when she cried out to God for help. He led her to Phoenix Rescue Mission. And here, thanks to your prayers and support, her broken heart began to heal…

“There was a time when I thought the world would be better off without me. But today, I think God let me experience all that darkness because it helps me see His light.”

That’s Gabriela, remembering her life before she came to Phoenix Rescue Mission. Back then, she was struggling with addiction, homelessness and hopelessness.

Her troubles grew from childhood trauma, and her pain festered. Like so many others, she eventually self-medicated her brokenness with drugs, and the more her life fell apart, the harder the drugs got. Ultimately, that behavior cost Gabriela her home and car, her marriage and children, and all her self-worth.

The year before she came to the Mission, she overdosed 13 times. As bad as that was, rock bottom may have been giving birth to her youngest daughter in a Walmart parking lot. “She was immediately taken from me by Child Protective Services,” Gabriela remembers.

“I was devastated beyond belief. My life had completely spiraled out of control.”

Only a short time later, Gabriela was arrested yet again. With multiple warrants, she was facing a lengthy sentence.

Before this time, Gabriela really hadn’t believed in God. But from the darkness of prison and the depths of despair, she cried out to Him: “Lord, if you can get me out of jail with the minimum of time and reunite me with my newborn daughter, I will never get high again.”

Answered Prayer, Transformed Life

By God’s grace, that’s exactly what happened. First, Gabriela’s sentence — which she expected would be years — was reduced to months. While she was serving her time, she repeatedly saw online advertisements for Phoenix Rescue Mission. They caught her eye, and when she was released early, she came here for a second chance.

The changes in her life since she arrived have been nothing short of extraordinary.

For starters, Gabriela feels safe. After so many horrible nights on the streets, that’s not something she’ll ever take for granted. She’s also been sober since the day she walked in, “the longest period in my adult life,” she says. During this healing journey, Mission team members walked alongside her through her legal challenges, counseling her and helping her regain good standing with the authorities.

As a result, less than one year after crying out to the Lord in prison, the second half of her prayer was answered when she was reunited with her youngest daughter!

Today, mom and daughter are doing great. Gabriela is establishing her life on a Gospel foundation. She’s stepped into the advanced Servant Leadership Training phase of the recovery program at the Mission and says,

“Because of what Jesus has done for me, I want to spend the rest of my life giving to others.”

Just as important, she’s prayerfully rebuilding relationships with her other children. And now, her future really is filled with hope and light.

Thank you for giving Gabriela hope and another chance at the Mission’s Changing Lives Center! To see what her life is like now, check out our new, short video at