A Life Changed: Sarah Howard

September 19, 2018

Growing up, all I can remember is struggling – with my dad, my younger brothers, and in school. I was a defiant child and by the time I was a teenager, I was fighting depression. At 13, I tried marijuana and alcohol for the first time. Being “buzzed” felt so good; all my negative emotions dissolved. Before long, I was experimenting with crystal meth and dropped out of school.  
When I was 17, I became involved in an abusive relationship with a man much older than I, who was schizophrenic and heavily into drugs. A year later I became pregnant with my daughter Monique. In 2002 I left him, but 6 months later I was involved in another destructive relationship. Soon, we were married. I started using heroin, and the darkness of drug addiction really began to take a toll. A year later, I was pregnant again. My husband went to prison and I was alone, empty, with no hope or care for the future. I used drugs through my entire pregnancy, thinking each night that this would be my last time: I promised myself I would quit “tomorrow” – but tomorrow never came.
Social Services stepped in and took both my children away. I lived on the streets, in and out of jail, prison, and rehabs, like a revolving door. I was in bondage and couldn’t let go. I hated myself and everyone else. My life was completely unmanageable. In 2008, I became pregnant with my third child. Without any structure or accountability, I knew I was headed to repeat the cycle.
In March, 2011, I had enough. I voluntarily entered Heritage House South in Costa Mesa, a rehab program for women with children. On my very first day, a group of women from NorthEast of the Well came to see if we wanted to attend a bible study. It was optional, and I chose to go. I remember catching a glimpse of light in their eyes that gave me hope. At that bible study, I made the decision to surrender my life to God.  He started building a new foundation in me that very day.
After graduating that program, I knew I couldn’t return back home. I needed to do things differently this time around. I went to live at a sober living home in Anaheim, completed school and found a job. I knew I needed to stay connected to my newfound faith, so every Monday, my small son and I would take a 2-hour bus ride to attend a NorthEast of the Well worship service. Afterwards, some of the women volunteers would drive us home. This helped me form some beautiful, lasting friendships. Their love for Christ was exactly what I wanted! I grew closer to God because I knew that without Him, I had nothing.
Today, I stand a completely new person. I’ve been sober over 7 years, have my own apartment and work full-time. I’ve stayed connected with NorthEast through discipleship and volunteering, and have watched the ministry grow. Just recently, NorthEast offered me an administrative position at their new office in Costa Mesa! I’m thrilled to be on staff and be giving back to the ministry that has invested so much in me over the years. 
My daughter, who was removed from my custody 10 years earlier, came back to live with me –we traveled to Israel together last year with NorthEast. It was an experience I will treasure for a lifetime, and showed just how far God has brought us. My second child, David, still lives with his grandmother, but slowly, our relationship is healing too.
Jesus Christ has redeemed me and brought me out of the trenches of addiction and self-hate. I am forever grateful for my life! Today I am saved and that is because of God’s grace and forgiveness – He is my Lord and Savior.