I encountered drugs for the first time at the age of 13. That day my friends and I took “ice” (methylamphetamine) on one of those hidden staircases in a public housing estate. I used not to be popular at school and had had no idea what I was living for in the real world. In a way drugs brought me closer to my friends, helped me realize my existence, offered some interest in common among the peers, and made them recognize me as part of their group.

From the age of 15, I started to go in and out of hospitals regularly for reasons related to drugs. Once as a result of some love affair problem, I got out of control emotionally, and overdosed myself so much that I had to be admitted to the intensive care unit for emergency treatment. In this first encounter with death when the attending doctors all believed that I would remain in a vegetative state, I turned out to recover miraculously. I used to think that I had been ignored, but this time I could see and feel that I was loved by many including my family and relatives. Yet instead of learning from this miracle and seeking to change, I abused the care from others and thought that mistreating my body and my life was a way to manipulate people around me, not realizing the harm done to myself. Drugs aside, I was in the midst of some complicated love affairs. These two problems coupled with my inability to care for myself drove me close to a state of nervous breakdown. Oftentimes I had the feeling of being watched and followed. I was worried about being in danger, and about seeing ghosts in the dark, so much so that a night of good sleep was to me a luxury, and I managed to fall asleep only once every two weeks on the average. It was common knowledge among my relatives that I was addicted to drugs. My parents felt bad about it. The relatives disliked me and even asked my parents to give me up. Indeed my parents had driven me out of their door. But for me the most regretful event was my grandma’s refusal to see me before her death, the very grandma who had looked after me since my infancy. There were other important moments that I missed for sticking with my addicted friends, including the failure to stay with grandpa in the last moments of his life, and the failure to attend the wedding ceremony of my cousin ………. I was too stubborn to face my problems. Often I would find different excuses not to quit drugs, telling myself, for example, that I would quit after settling this or that other problem.

This kind of pretexts was so common that after a while even I did not trust myself anymore, giving it all up and prepared to stay addicted for the rest of my life. But God did not give me up. At the age of 23, I was arrested for drug possession, and was sentenced on a probation order to the Sister Centre of Operation Dawn. In my early days there, I had to learn everything from scratch, including when to go to bed and when to get up. Going to bed at 10:30 at night was not easy for me, because prior to that sleeping had not been fun for me, always having difficulty falling asleep, or else having nightmares if I ever felt asleep. Some sisters at the Centre taught me how to pray. At first I was half-convinced, but after one week of praying I managed to sleep peacefully. So bedtime prayers became my habit, and I was determined to follow God again. Yet there were times at the Centre when I would struggle and become suspicious about my faith, i.e. whether I genuinely believed in Jesus or I was just influenced by others, especially after listening to one counsellor and realizing that I was the kind of person easily overcome by the surroundings. One night when I was questioning myself about this matter, I happened to read over a passage from the Bible: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” [1Peter 5:7] I took this as God speaking to me, & comforting me when I was in doubt. There might not be an answer to a question, but what really mattered was that I trusted that God would walk through it with me.

Then one week before the completion of my treatment, I had another question of whether I should stay on with the Organization to continue learning. Because I was frustrated about the road ahead of me, I decided to stay behind for another three months after graduation. But towards the end the three months, I was back to the same old question, more specifically of whether I could find a job after leaving the Girl Centre. Then Operation Dawn arranged for me to work at a restaurant, so I was relieved. At the same time, I took a course on counselling. Two months later, I became a part-time peer-counsellor at an addiction counselling centre. Six months after that, God arranged for me to work at another centre but this time as full-time peer-counsellor, which lasted for one year.

Then in 2014, once again God brought me back to Operation Dawn, the place where I had first come to know Him. Before this return, my work outside was to help other people, but my spirit was dry and exhausted because during those days I lacked any steady church life. That was why when I joined the Joshua Fellowship back at Beautiful Gate Baptist Church in October 2013, I felt the warmth of a home, with a drive for me to return to the Church to deal with the matter of faith seriously. After a meeting with the staff of Operation Dawn, I recalled a previous idea about working at the Girl Centre. Soon I made up my mind to do exactly that, so that I could offer help to other sisters, while relying on God to keep my heart strong by resuming church life steadily. Now I am also pursuing a theology study programme conducted by the Organization at the Bible Training Centre. Hopefully I can better equip myself with the truth from the Bible, with which to service the sisters at the Centre, but more importantly to learn to rely on God in the rendering of this and other services.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” [Psalms 127:1]