On Mother’s Day 2018, Ms. Carolyn boldly stood in front of the Hope Center and shared her testimony (transcribed by Chaplain Sarah Jobe):
I grew up with a mom and a dad in the same household. My mom and dad fought a lot, mostly because my father was using. That’s been over some forty years ago. But my mother was young, didn’t know that he was using. Watching them fight so much, I began to fight in school.
As I got older, my mom and dad separated, and in my 20’s me and my younger brother Charles were best friends. I saw him one day walking down the path to my mom’s house, and I looked at him and said, “Hey, you’ve been smoking marijuana – I want some of that!”
I had just bought a new car, and he said, “Get your keys, I want to show you something.”
We went and parked down by the school and he pulls out these tools, the ones you use to smoke cocaine. And he told me what to do, and the first time I tried it, it scared the life out of me. A few weeks later, I tried it again, and I was instantly addicted.
Charles and I began to go to drug houses and get high or wait for someone who had drugs to get us high. At the time, I didn’t really know how to get it myself. I remember the first time that I sold my body to a guy for a piece of crack. I remember that when I was high, it didn’t bother me. But after the high was gone, I thought to myself, “You just gave our body to a man for a piece of something!” And I stopped smoking. Somehow, I began to hear the Lord. I pulled myself together, got an apartment with my two sons. And I remember a guy I was interested in coming over and offering me cocaine, and I said no. And he kept pushing, and he got out the tools, and I began getting high again. This time I was making money, so I didn’t have to sell my body…yet.
I remember using when Marcus and Matthew were in school. Then it got to where I would smoke even when they weren’t in school but were outside playing…I knew something wasn’t right to smoke while they were in the house with me.
I remember one day, I looked out the window at people who had been on drugs for years. And I remember saying to God, “Dear God, look at those people. I’m doing the same drug they’re doing. But please God, don’t let me look that way.” They were dirty. Their clothes misplaced. But after that, I still got high.
And then it started that as I went to different crack houses, the Lord would tell me to go to people and tell them…whatever, whatever God would let come out. I would say to people, “God wants you to know that you are a beautiful person, and He loves you. He’ll never leave you.” And I would tell people that, over and over again. I remember there was an 18-year-old boy, the youngest who had been to the crack house, and I watched as he was taken upstairs to sell his body for crack, and I began to think, “what if that was my boy?” And I talked to that child that day. I pulled him from what he was doing, and I gave him a hit and I gave him a little packet of drugs to take home, and I said, “God doesn’t ever want you to come back here.” I later found out that he wasn’t getting high anymore and had gotten a job. In those days, I did more talking to people than I did getting high. That’s what I did at the Red Door (the name of the crack house). And people started coming to me, and the only thing I could really say was “do you know that God loves you? God is running after you, and he’s not going to leave you.”
I was out partying when my son Matthew got killed. He’s been dead 8 years now and I believe if I’d been home then it wouldn’t have happened. Matthew died a violent death, and as much as myself, I blamed God for taking him home. When the Lord called Matthew home, it was the worst pain I have ever felt. When you lose a child, it is the worst pain. Matthew was a good son, a good, good boy. He was just what Jesus wants in all of us -- a good son, always pulling for the underdog, a boy who would give you his last dollar.
After Matthew died, I didn’t have anything to do with God for four years. I didn’t want anything to do with Bibles, or church, or anyone who talked about God. And then one day, a few months ago, I took the “Forgive for Good” class. And they began to make me realize that I could forgive God. I believe that Matthew was so good, maybe God needed him for something in heaven. The “Forgive for Good” class got me about 70% of the way toward forgiving God. And then after that class I heard someone say, “Be thankful, because God took Matthew to get your total and undivided attention.” The Lord has been trying to get my attention for years and years and here today is the first time that God has my total and undivided attention. Because he took Matthew, that is my motivation to be good, so that I can see Matthew again.
God loved me so much that he gave his life for me. Ever since I made my peace in that class, I‘ve been chasing after God. All sorts of things have been happening to me, but I still believe God has a plan for me. And I love Him. I don’t love being in prison, but I believe God is using this prison to make me and mold me into the woman He wanted me to be.