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A painful childhood haunted Gina until she found hope at the Orange County Rescue Mission.

Most of us look back on the Christmases of childhood with joy: that year we had Christmas with all the cousins … that year my parents surprised us with a puppy under the tree … that year we didn’t have much but at least we were all together.

Canceled Christmas
But for so many people who’ve found themselves caught in addiction, childhood Christmases were nothing to celebrate. And for Gina, the memories of Christmases past aren’t just joyless, they’re haunting. Gina was taken from her mom when she was only 6 and placed in the care of an abusive stepmother.

“We were mostly neglected,” she says. “Put in the basement when we were ‘wrong.’ Our food was taken … Christmas was canceled. I got sick all the time,” she says. “I was an insomniac because I was so scared. I prayed every night for God to rescue me … it didn’t happen, so I gave up on Him — I didn’t believe in Him.” Tragically, Gina attempted suicide when she was only 7 years old.

Saved to Suffer?
Though Gina was bent on self-destruction, God never let her succeed. Her older brother introduced her to speed, and then she got hooked on heroin. By the time she graduated from high school, she had been to rehab 10 times. None worked. By 2009, Gina was moving from hotel room to hotel room with her boyfriend, and living on the streets. And now, she was pregnant.

Crying for Help
Drugs had taken hold of Gina’s life and she didn’t have the willpower to stop. But after a year of homelessness, she knew she needed help. “I had nothing. No one,” she says. “Outside a hotel room, I reached out to Him again and I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Help me.’ Maybe I needed to get to the darkest place to be able to see God.”

A Gift to Share
When Gina found Orange County Rescue Mission, her life changed: “At the Mission, I got a glimpse of the joy and love you feel in the presence of God. People care about you and see us as a family — not just a bunch of mistakes.”

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