What I am about to write is a piece of my heart, an unforgettable chapter that completely changed my life. Many of those reading may know me because we’re family, friends, co-workers and some may be complete strangers but for anyone reading, this is very real side of me. Some people live their lives unaware of what young people face on a daily basis. Whether you are born wealthy, or born into a low-income home, to young people everywhere, drug abuse, bullying, suicide, physical and mental abuse are all too real. I apologize for the raw details that are included, but these problem are too serious to be kept in the dark. My name is Nicole Stallings, I am 22 years old and am blessed to be alive. I have been in darkness that I hope no one ever experiences, and for many, I wish to bring light and hope for the future. I am not who many once remember me as, but rather a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) - this is my story.
I suppose I'll start at the root of my story, at the very beginning. My wonderful mother could not bear children but was rather was gifted with the path of adoption. Though it pained her at first, as we look back at it now, we are faithful that it was hand of God. My parents had already adopted two American boys, and to make the family complete they wanted to adopt a baby girl. Far away, in the small, impoverished village of Iquitos, Peru, my birth mother was left with a hard choice to put me up for adoption. During that time, the health, education and the very livelihood for a girl born in the jungle was very poor. I was born in a small village off the Amazon River, in a hospital that had no windows and barely any running water. There were many young children being adopted and how my parents were led to me is amazing. In the church my parents attended, there was a family that had just adopted a little girl from Peru. Needless to say, my parents fell in love. During church my parents heard a story of the starfish. The story went like this, "There once was a little boy walking along the beach and hundreds upon hundreds of starfish were washed up along the shore. The little boy began to reach down, pick one up and throw it back into the ocean. Awhile later, an old man noticed the boy and walked up to him and said, "little boy, don't you see that there are hundreds of starfish, you can't possibly save them all", and then the little boy picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean, looked up at the man and replied "...but I made a difference to that one". It was this very story that inspired my parents to adopt from Peru.
After many months of hardships and financial struggles, the adoption was complete, and I was their little starfish that they saved. On November 2nd, we arrived in United States and I finally belonged to my new family, the Stallings. I grew up in a great community, had a loving family, good education, but just like many other middle-class families, problems also abound. By the time I was around nine, my mother and father were separated and divorced and life was not so easy. My memories of my childhood from that point, though many are good, there are also many filled with pain and loneliness. Around the time of middle school I was bullied not only for my race but because rumors of what my family was going through. I remember people laughing at my fuzzy facial hair and telling me that my kind didn't belong. Countless of times I was told to go back to Mexico, even though I wasn't even from there. Everyone seemed to isolate me, never wanting to be my partner in class. Rumors of my parents’ hardships streamed down from parents to children, and young girls wrote horrible things about my family, I was heartbroken. The bullying was so bad, and with conflict at home, I felt no escape, I felt alone. In my last year at that school, I came home, crying because even the bus ride home was terrible, and I tried committing suicide. How I survived is a story in itself, which I owe deeply to my amazing brother Andrew. With everything that I was going through at that age I felt I could turn to no one, trusted no one, and could talk to no one. But little did I know, that even from the womb, Christ was with me. Shortly after, we moved to another town and I went to a new school, met new people, and trouble soon arose. During this time of my life, my relationship with my father sadly grew apart and I began looking for male attention in all the wrong places.
It is during these years of adolescence in which the abuse started. With my mother working hard, I rarely saw her, plus I was at the age when I thought hanging out with mom wasn’t “cool”. Though my mom tried to guide and raise me the best she could, I was seeking other things that were beyond her control. God was not yet real to me, even though we grew up in a Christian home. In other words, my relationship with him had not yet truly developed on my end. At my new school I began to abuse drugs heavily. I met all kinds of people from broken backgrounds and I related myself to them and them to me. Yet, I was completely blind to what dangers I was soon to face. The more and more I began to rely on drugs, the less and less I recognized who I was. I went from one drug to a stronger one, which soon led me to encounter some pretty rough characters. I became involved in a lifestyle that many people will never experience, while many others live through every day. Every willful choice I made took me further and further into trouble, yet there was something always protecting me. For years I found myself in relationships with drug dealers who did things to me that are unimaginable. I have gotten beaten physically, mentally and emotionally. I have worn bruises yet hid them from the world. I didn’t say the right things so I was choked to the point where I couldn't breathe. There were nights were I would lay there scared to move, with tears in my eyes, while sex was forced on me. As much as I should have left that lifestyle, the sad addiction to the drugs kept me in bondage. I was eighteen, lost, damaged and had gotten myself into a darkness that seemed inescapable.
My brothers were at the age where life had taken them all over the world and it was just my mother and I at home. I lost relationships with my family because I was no longer the Nicole that they remembered. My mother had seen the degradation of my character and could no longer control me and was forced to remove me from living under her roof. I cannot blame her because I became a monster to the only woman who has loved me unconditionally. My father, though we didn’t speak much, would try to advise me but I had so much resentment towards him that I disregarded his words. It was my now my senior year of high school, I was living out of my car and in the streets of a well-known “rough” part of Charlotte. It was here where I met some of the kindest people, people who were living on nothing, but were always willing to help others. I met people who opened their homes to me, fed me and cleaned me and these people were complete strangers. I was also introduced to some of the most dangerous criminals, and it was during this time in my life when I began to hear Jesus speak to me.
I met a young man in the streets who took me in and gave me everything. He gave me food, shelter, and all the drugs I could numb myself with. He also was the one who defined what evil was. I endured some of the most painful nights of my life under his control. Soon I began to hear my conscious say “get out and return home” but I never listened. The easy access to drugs kept me a prisoner. Each night I would cry and cry praying for God to protect me as this person would force himself on me. I hated myself, because I became influenced of all the evil which surrounded him. I was doing things that I would never imagined, and putting him in front of my family and friends. It was on one night that I had angered him to the point where he held a loaded gun to my head and threatened my life and the life of my mother and father. It was that night I realized that no matter how separated, how torn I was from my family, that my love for them was stronger than anything. I would have died for my parents, but I didn't know that there was an Almighty God protecting them. Shortly after, my mother allowed me to come home, but it was like having a stranger in the house. It would be a long road to recovery, forgiveness, and gaining back lost trust. A year went by and I had cleaned up my act with a job, enrolled in community college, and my addictions were gradually disappearing. I was gaining my mother’s trust back and trying hard to redeem the lost time, but I wasn’t out of the enemy’s hands just yet.
Now during the previous years that I was in and out of trouble, I went through two car accidents. The first was minor compared to the following ones, but the fact remains that I was intoxicated during them all. After the first one, I heard a faint voice say, “Look at what you’re doing”... yet nothing changed. Months later, I had a second accident that landed me in the hospital along with my car transformed into a pile of scrap metal. The voice in my head seemed to be louder, saying, “Turn away from what you’re doing”. This car wreck could have killed me, but my heart was still not changed. The last one was the most significant one. It was after I graduated high school and was now almost twenty. I was staying out of trouble, when I decided to make another poor decision. I had stopped abusing a lot of harsh drugs, but replaced them with alcohol. One night I decided to go somewhere I should have never ventured, to see a person that I had no business seeing. After a few strong drinks I began to feel uncomfortable and I got a feeling that I needed to leave. It was that decision to drive while intoxicated which resulted in a horrible car accident. Luckily, no one was hurt from the accident, but I found myself being arrested for drinking and driving. That night my life was forever changed. There was an indescribable pit in my stomach because I knew I had again betrayed my mother’s trust, and this time, violated a major law. While handcuffed in jail, I heard that same voice in my head, only this time as loud and clear as a bell. This time my conscious impressed the name of somebody I once knew. After hearing this thought, I immediately contacted an old friend’s trustworthy father, in whom I met years earlier. It was in contacting my friend and her family that something incredible was introduced to my life.
My friend was always a good Christian girl, but when she met me years before, I was nowhere near being a Christian. I had contacted her father and wrote him all of what I had recently been through and with a loving, open heart he invited me to his family’s Friday night bible study. I didn’t know that just years before, her family had discovered many bible truths. Within the first couple of bible studies, they showed me in scripture the truth about the true biblical Sabbath and many other amazing facts. Everything that I thought I knew about God was completely different. I learned that He was a God of love, of forgiveness, a God who does not send people to a burning hell forever, all these previous ideas were now changed by deep study of the scriptures. It was after those studies, that I knew without a doubt that Christ directed me to my friend’s home. It was His perfect timing for me. As I reflected on every single thing that I went through it hit me how close to death I was and it was Christ who intervened and saved me. I had so much shame and guilt, but I learned of forgiveness and grace and it made me realize how merciful, how strong Christ’s love for sinners, like you and me, is. The plan of salvation set before me. It was by my own choices that kept me from hearing his voice, although he was always speaking. It took being convicted of a crime in order to re-evaluate my life and realize I needed a Savior, a Father, and a Best Friend. Since then, for almost four years now, He has done a miracle on my heart and I have grown into a strong relationship with Him. I saw who I was becoming and Christ revealed to me that He had bigger plans for my future. I did and still do not deserve what He has done for me, but I am forever grateful. It is the precious gift of knowing Him that I wish to share with others. There has been absolutely no greater gift given to me because through Christ, I learned the power of forgiveness. It was through Christ that allowed me and my father to mend our wounds and now we have a stronger relationship than we ever have. It is through trusting Christ that has kept me out of harm’s way. It is through studying the life of Jesus, opening His Word and falling in love with Him that has brought me the purest happiness.
People say seeing is believing, and my life can witness to that. I truly was lost and now I am found. My eyes were blind, but now I see. He rescued me when I was sinking down, and for that I owe Him my life. If you and I became a victim to a killer, and then out of nowhere, a stranger took a bullet for you, would you not feel like you owed him your life? This man didn’t have to do it, but this man was unselfish, completely filled with love and would rather die than to see you get hurt. This is what Christ did for mankind. It is my duty to share the knowledge of the bible, in order to help people see the true character of Christ. With so many unanswered questions, so many skeptics, so many things out there to confuse and destroy us, how can we know the truth? My desire is for others to experience falling in love with someone who can and wants to change lives. I have seen the miracles He has done for me and all I can simply do is what He has asked of me. The voice that I trusted years ago is the same voice that I am trusting now. After hearing Him speak to me, my life went a completely opposite direction of where I thought it would. It is for this reason to which I write this now.
I was on my way to attending a four-year college but Christ needed me to be grounded with His knowledge before anything. In a few months, there is a school for evangelism in Oregon starting a 13-week program. After much prayer and thought, the school called Arise Institute is the one that I’ve been led to. I write today in hopes of being funded for this calling. I am asking for aid from those reading that I, Nicole Stallings, will be able to take this step to follow Christ. By the end of this month I need to raise $5,000. This fee will include my tuition, fuel fee, books, plane ticket, money for food, and to provide for needs such as clothing and literature to those in the local area. I am asking for donations because I am still trying to get back on my feet from all the damaged I have done years ago. My parents are also in very tough financial positions due to the economy. I do not know how I will receive this money, but I'm trusting in Him. I don not know where Christ will take me after this chapter in my life but I do know that Christ is calling me now. I hope that my story will inspire others who are struggling with something right now. I pray that the words written, which He helped me to write, will touch your heart. My story is personal, a side that I hesitate to share to the public, but it is true and it is a part of me. I am the starfish that my parents desired to save. But not only did they find worth in me, but the Lord of all creation saw worth in me and in you. I am a living testimony. I am living proof of how He is still alive and changing hearts. I want to give thanks to all of those who have just simply taken the time to read my story. Whether you decide to fund me or not, it does not matter, but sharing my story to others of more importance. May God speak to your hearts, and please allow Him to come in. My life will never be the same; I am truly grateful to have found true happiness in Christ and my prayer is for you all to take a step in faith.
For more information on the school you can visit http://www.lightbearers.org/arise/the-story/
If you want hear more of my testimony, to pray or for anything else please feel free to contact me.
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