Jessica grew up in south Louisiana with her mother and stepfather, moving frequently from one family member’s home to the next. “I’ve never really had a home, absolutely not, we’ve never been in one place.” While Jessica’s grandmother and grandfather were still living, Jessica went to church regularly. Her church days came to a halt when her grandparents passed away. “We couldn’t talk about God at all, my family became very opinionated, I was guilty by association, I was going to hell. I really believed that, so He doesn’t care about me anymore.”
Jessica was left feeling empty, she tried to fill the emptiness with as much knowledge as she could-about the world. “My family life was not good at all, the entirety of it really so there were bad decisions.” As time passed, Jessica became addicted to cough syrup. “My whole life I’ve been around alcohol, drugs, pills, I was able to walk away from them but the one thing I became addicted to was cough medicine. For a good 30 years, I was really bad off in the cough medicine.” With her home life and addiction, Jessica was left living in fear and feeling she was not capable of anything.
Jessica’s circumstances only worsened when her stepfather passed away. “We didn’t have a means and we didn’t have a place to go.” Jessica was abandoned by her mother for a couple of months. Jessica went without solid food for an extended period of time. “I remember for two weeks I laid on the floor, I had nothing but chicken broth. “It was so quiet, I had no family, I had nobody. I just felt empty, empty and lost was where I was. I think that’s where God intervened.”
Jessica found her way to the Mission from a Google search. “I was so nervous; I didn’t know what the experience of a homeless shelter would be like except for what I’ve seen on TV. Then they don’t call themselves a shelter, they call themselves a Life Recovery Program. I was thinking I’ve never had a life, so I don’t know what to recover.” Jessica quickly joined our 4-phase, 12-month New Beginnings Program to make a plan for her life, overcome fear and find her relationship with Jesus. “I was given a Bible and my first time I just went through the entirety; it took me a month. I sat and cried because it was like I’ve been lied to my whole life.
The Mission taught me that if God is with me, who can be against me? No weapon formed against me shall prosper. In all your ways acknowledge Him in everything you do, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The New Beginnings program gets you to cultivate your relationship with Jesus, push past the knowledge of God, it changes whenever you sit with God. First, I overcame fear, then it was anger and bitterness. By phase 3, I can forgive my mom then I forgave my dad. I forgave my stepdad, I forgave my grandma, my family. At the end, these are not with you, they may be a part of you, but they don’t define you and I love it!”
In addition to the New Beginnings Program studies, Jessica and our other guests participate in vocational training. Jessica has done just about everything, laundry, housekeeping, reception, guest services and culinary arts. “I absolutely love the opportunity to be in the kitchen every time I can. I received my ServSafe certificate in this kitchen. The Mission provides structure, every day we have something to do, it’s comfortable.”
Jessica recently graduated from the New Beginnings program. Jessica feels called to ministry and has a strong desire to serve women and children that have experienced hardships just as she has. Jessica is our newest ministry intern! Jessica will work through another 4-phase, 12-month program. We’re excited to see what God does through Jessica.
“I hope people will support the Mission because when they say one life at a time, they truly mean it. I was just a flower that can’t break the layer of mud that would bring me to the light to bloom. I was just stuck in the darkness, then they helped me grow. Each day they provide for us. Each day we have meals. Each day the children run through the hallway. The Mission leads us in a positive direction. When we do walk outside these doors, whenever it’s time, they’ve made it possible for us to become a part of the community again.