|Success Stories :: Mandi|
Hi, my name is Mandi and I am 24 years old. My family and I moved to California from Alaska at the beginning of my grade school when my grandfather was dying. After his death we found comfort in a local church but I never completely surrendered my life to Jesus or had a personal relationship with Him. At a young age I started dancing and playing soccer. By junior high I was playing soccer at a very competitive level.
I have two older sisters and when I got into junior high I began to go out with them on the weekends and that is when I began to drink. By high school I was well known in my community for soccer but I had a routine party schedule on the weekends. When I was sixteen I got a DUI in a stolen vehicle. This shocked my community, my coach, and it shamed my family. I was let off with just a little probation because the judge didn't want to hinder my future with my soccer and schooling.
My senior year my coach opened up an opportunity for me to play against high-ranked teams and universities. This was a time to be scouted and to experience soccer at a higher level. But inside I had a huge fear of failure so when I was introduced to meth by a friend of mine, I found my escape in it. I started using quite a bit and people saw a change in me on and off the field. I ended up barely walking with my class because of so many days missed, and my personal coach and scouts were fed-up with no-shows and unreturned phone calls.
After graduation I crashed my friends car while drinking and driving and ended up In a 30 day rehab. Here is where I realized I had ruined everything I had been working my whole life towards. When I got out of rehab I quickly got back into my addiction. I worked and tried to go to junior college but I couldn't do either without being high. My addiction had spiraled out of control and because of being untrustworthy I wasn't allowed in my family's home or allowed to see my niece who I love dearly, and I lost my job of two years. Without many options open to me I moved in with a guy friend not realizing the severity of his drug addiction. It was here that I saw things I wouldn't imagine in my worst nightmare and I met the kind of people I didn't know existed. I remember being up in my room crying. It wasn't like a normal night of crying feeling sorry for myself. Something within me was crying out. For the first time in my life I felt the presence of God. In my complete broken state God spoke to my heart and I knew that He loved me and somehow my life was going to change.
Right after that I ended up in jail for 45 days. In jail I reunited with my family and I dedicated my life to Christ. My parents heard about Teen Challenge and by the grace of God I was granted my release to go to the program.
People always ask me what it was like in Teen Challenge. I tell them it was a year of getting to sit at the feet of Jesus. In the presence of Jesus there is healing, hope, restoration, and one can begin to dream again. At the end of my program God began to speak to me about missions. I heard about Y-WAM (youth-with-a-mission) and knew that I knew this was where God wanted me. It seemed impossible because I was on felony probation and had pretty much no money. However, God opened up door after door and did miracle after miracle. Shortly after I was done with my program I found myself on an airplane to Kona, HI where I would train for three months before going overseas. I ended up going with an amazing team to Australia and American Samoa.
I came home after my time overseas was up and began to seek God for what he had for me next. I currently am an intern at my church at Calvary Christian Center. I work under our Youth Pastor with student ministries and oversee evangelism. I was privileged to help lead a group of our students to Ecuador this past summer in South America. I am also currently getting certified as a chemical dependency counselor.
For me it is extremely humbling to look back at what God has done in my life from that time he spoke to my heart when I was completely broken in my room crying, up until now. I have been so blessed to see different parts of our world and God's unchanging heart for the nations. No matter where I am I am a missionary, because people are everywhere that need to know the love of Christ. I love Jesus and can't do justice with words for all he has done for me. God Bless and dream big!!!