“My father led the men’s Bible study out of our home and my mother was a Sunday school teacher. My father had dreams of attending the seminary to become a pastor. Life was good!”
A story that begins with these lines should lead to a predictable, enviable narrative, but it doesn’t. What Cherice went on to describe in her 8-page typed story was made up of distorted perspectives instilled early on in a very young mind, devastated by one bleak memory; the death of her father. He died in 1982 from a lethal dose of heroin – connections from a tainted past that haunted him.
Cherice was only 3 years old at the time of her father’s death. With that loss came a steady flow of childhood trauma. From her mom’s addiction, neglect, and carelessness, came periods of ritualized molestation; taking place at the hands of men who were invited into their home over several years. She also witnessed horrific violence, causing her to be placed with other caregivers, who likewise were unhealthy and abusive. Unable to voice her pain and unmet needs from these traumas, Cherice numbed herself through addiction, unhealthy relationships (with both men and women), criminal behavior, and worldly attempts to bring religion into the mix (based on a lack of understanding concerning faith and obedience). By the time Cherice was 33, she had served time in Juvenile Hall, given birth to four children (with another on the way), entertained countless suicide attempts, faced multiple criminal charges as an adult, watched her mother waste away and eventually die from her addictions and choices, and had amassed a mounting barrage of physical, emotional and psychiatric issues. Her life was not good. By all accounts, it was a mess.
“I first learned about Rescue the Children through a program in jail. I started going to a Bible study offered in jail. There, I met a woman who was the House Manager for RTC. She had a powerful testimony that filled me with hope. I wanted what she had! I started writing letters to the staff, asking for help. I was very honest with them, explaining I was currently pregnant with my fifth child and that I was an IV drug user. Before I could work out an option to come into the program, I gave birth to my daughter and I was sentenced – a mandatory term of 3 years in prison. My daughter was placed into Foster Care and I was alone, in my cell. I cried out to God. How could I have done all this?”
Cherice spent time in prison learning about Jesus. She built her faith and trust in the Lord while she awaited her final days behind bars. There were setbacks, but she remained confident that God had a plan for her life.
“Two days before my release date. I was called out of my dorm by the Sargent. I had a phone call from the program director of Rescue the Children. I was shocked. Typically, phone calls came only when someone had died. They put the phone on speaker and the woman on the other line told that she personally purchased a one-way bus ticket through Greyhound for me. She said that because I kept in contact with the RTC staff during my incarceration, I showed them I was truly ready for a change. She was so right! I was ready for the life-transformation that the RTC community offered.
Today, 13 months later, I am in recovery and sharing my testimony. I now have my youngest daughter living with me full time, and my eldest daughter is with me on the weekends. I am also mending my relationship with my three sons.
As I get ready to transition into Aftercare, I have been hired by the Mission to be a Community Care Provider; one who provides a welcoming smile and watchful eyes over the visitors to the campus. I am growing closer to God, too; working on my relationship with Him every day. I know that He loves me. I also know I could not have come to this point without the love and support of the RTC staff. I am truly blessed.
My life verse says it all:
‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ 1 Peter 2:9
I thank God. He is good and is always on time. I serve Him, today. I thank the Fresno Rescue Mission for this program and for helping me along my journey to recovery.”
Cherice's story appeared in the January 2017 edition of Lighthouse News