‘The power for change’
Although I was messed up, I knew one thing. I hated myself, and death looked much better than life. I had lost everything. I was forced to leave apartment after apartment.
Earlier in my life, I had been raised in a beautiful home. Dad worked and Mom stayed home and took care of us. I was raised in the Catholic church. We went to church every Sunday. I married my high school sweetheart. We had a nice home with three beautiful children.
But after 20 years of marriage, my husband and I divorced badly. It terribly hurt my children. I became a single mother and life was hard. The lack of money was a constant problem.
Years later, my father died at age 64. I was with him. At that moment, something in me died too. At that point, my life fell apart. All my strength and health turned for the worse.
I now know that it was his death that triggered my road to addiction. First, I just took pills to relax and to sleep. That led to going to bars to drink and forget. At this time, a friend who had some cocaine introduced me to the world of hard drugs. Soon, I was spending my money on drugs rather than on my home and kids.
Then one day, while standing between two garbage trucks, I overdosed. Someone found me and called 911. I was unconscious for three days. When I came to, I vowed never to do drugs again!
And I didn’t! I went clean.
I had to leave the city. I just didn’t belong there anymore. Lacking money, my kids, or even food, I arrived in Lynn, Mass., with just a garbage bag of clothes in my hand.
Living in a local “sober house,” I commenced ten months of community service. The director of the house told me that The Salvation Army was just around the corner.
So for those 10 months, I washed Salvation Army windows and did other types of routine maintenance. Frequently, someone would invite me to the Army’s Sunday service. I felt as if they were bugging me to death!
After five months of saying “no,” I finally gave in and went to a service to “get that over with.” Following his sermon, the Captain invited people to come and pray at an altar. I was scared to death, but somehow I went there to pray. Someone came to pray with me and asked if I would like to ask Jesus into my life. I said, “Yes.”
All at once, I felt something. I felt as if fire was burning me! As every emotion poured out of me, all I could do was to cry.
I went home from that service with a new Bible. That afternoon, I felt at peace although I also felt exhausted. I went to sleep. When I awoke, I asked God, “Am I really forgiven? Why me? What do you want me for?” I had met many wonderful people at the corps and wondered how I could ever be accepted by or be good enough for them.
I started growing fast. The Bible became my life! Sometimes, I would read it all night! I allowed the forgiveness of Christ to come in, and it changed me.
The Captain asked, “Would you like to join the recruitment classes to possibly become a Salvation Army soldier?” I again said, “Yes.”
I started a personal journal of my new life. Every day, prayer became a “must” for me. As a rule, I prayed and read from the Word of God before leaving my apartment.
After completing the recruitment classes, the Captain ordered a Salvation Army uniform for me. Coincidentally, my soldier enrollment date fell on my birthday! I invited family members to attend the ceremony.
On Sept. 22, 2013, in the presence of my parents and my brothers and my sisters, I was sworn in as a soldier. I also shared my testimony of how God found me.
At the end of the service, one of my sisters came and knelt and accepted Christ into her life at that same altar where I had knelt a couple of years earlier!
I approached my mother. She said, “Today I saw a strong woman that I never have to worry about again.” Those words meant the world to me.
I am now a proud soldier of The Salvation Army and have wonderful corps officers who make time for me. God has given me a mission to the homeless and drug–
addicted people here in Lynn. I know their pain and despair. When I tell them my story, I see hope in their eyes! When they ask me, “How did you do it?” I promise them that the moment they take the hand of Jesus—everything changes!
The limitless power for change is in Jesus’ love, compassion, forgiveness, and healing.
by Nancy Docimo