Joyia, while saved at a young age and attended church regularly, she never developed a personal relationship with God. Pregnant at 19, Joyia felt guilt and shame. She relocated to South Florida where she headed down the wrong path of drugs and abusive men. She got pregnant again by a man who controlled her and wanted nothing to do with the baby; she had an abortion. “For the next 15 years, I battled trying to find my happiness in drugs and relationships,” Joyia said. “I have never felt more empty and disconnected in my life.” Joyia finally found herself at the end of her rope, begging God for help. She was arrested for marijuana and spent two and a half weeks in jail. Her parents arranged for her to enroll in the Panama City Rescue Mission Recovery Program. Since her arrival, she has rededicated her life to God and attended a post abortion course. “I’m learning that I’m a new creation in Christ, a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I’m learning that is what was missing and what I had been searching for in men and drugs,” Joyia said.
At age fourteen I started my downward cycle of addiction with pot, pills, and alcohol. My father tried to get me out of my drugging lifestyle by placing me in a private school. This simply placed me around kids that had money and drugs. I dropped out of school when I was 17. I met some heavy hitters who were drug dealers, and they taught me how to make money dealing drugs on an upper level. After being in and out of jail and three unhappy marriages I still continued the downward spiral and ended up in prison for almost 10 years, all then to go back again after my term was up. While there I got saved and received Christ as my Savior. I wanted and needed to stay sober and get the tools I needed, so I went to Panama City Rescue Mission recovery program.
Every Sunday was a church-day in Christina Brannon’s home. As a child, she had been raised that way; and, as an adult, she had built her family — two children and a husband — on the same principal.
“I followed Christ,” Christina said.
However, following a difficult separation from her husband, the machines of her life abruptly gave out. She lost her job, her children, and, finally, hope.
“I had no purpose, I had no hope,” she said. “I was completely broken down.”
Resentment against God for having allowed her family to fall apart had become a stumbling block that led her down a path of self-destruction.
For four years, Christina began modestly using illicit drugs and alcohol. Even while Christina was denying addiction and believing she had her life under control, her mother and grandmother reminded her of how God could change her situation and restore her to happiness once again.
They referred her to the Panama City Rescue Mission’s Bethel Village Home for Women and Children, where Christina would become a student in the recovery program on Nov. 11, 2013.
“By that time, I was totally prepared and ready to yield to God’s plan in everything,” Christina said. “I knew God was saying he was taking me out of the mess I was in.”
Just 10 months into the program, Christina is preparing to graduate. She is completely delivered from her former addictions.
“Freedom, purpose, valued,” she said, describing her current state. “This program has shown me to just depend on him. I need to trust that he is going to provide for me; the Bible says he is a provider.”
The time she has spent at Bethel Village has revamped her desire to work one-on-one with individuals who find themselves at the crossroads of despair and hope, a place where she once stood.
“I want it to be just me and the Lord; just depending on him in all things,” she said.