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Stories From The Field
Bosnia Drug Rehab Center: Ella’s Story
Ella was raised in a happy, middle-class military family where God was never mentioned. She met
a Roma man while in high school and married him soon after graduation but divorced him before
their daughter, Dana, was born—just after Ella’s 19th birthday. Ella joined the military when the war
started, leaving Dana with her mother. She soon met another man whom she married and continued
to visit her daughter, but the visits became infrequent as her attention focused on her new husband
who had a son.
Although the couple prospered financially, something was missing. The two began abusing alcohol
and using recreational drugs, which led them into heroin addiction and stints in and out of jail for
drug dealing and theft. They left their children for Ella’s parents to raise.
Eventually, the couple attended a Christian-based rehab center in a neighboring country, where
they committed their lives to Christ. Since their conversion nearly a decade ago, Ella has served in
ministry to the Roma and worked with women who are rebuilding their lives following incarceration;
she also leads an outreach to a women’s group in the village where her mother was born and raised.

Stories From The Field
Bosnia Drug Rehab Center: Sandy’s Story
Sandy was jailed for the first time when she was 16. She met Ella while both were serving time.
During the years they were in and out of jail, the two became friends. Sandy told Ella about her
painful childhood, having to work every day with her mother at a bar. When Sandy was 12, her
mother married the bar owner. The three lived in a small, one-room apartment over the bar. When
Sandy’s mother worked late, the man began sexually abusing Sandy. After two years of abuse, she
decided to run away. Sandy cut her hair and began dressing and talking like a boy, before joining a
street gang, stealing and selling drugs. She eventually had a son and daughter, who now live with her
mother, since Sandy has been in and out of jail over the last 20 years.
Ten years ago, Ella met Sandy again when the team started visiting the jail. They’re now unable to
visit in person, but the two stay in contact by phone; Ella also takes Sandy care packages. Sandy was
released a few years ago, but after becoming addicted to antipsychotic meds she was again jailed for
theft. Ella and the team continue to share God’s love with Sandy.

Stories From The Field
Bosnia Drug Rehab Center: Dana’s Story
Until Dana was 14 years old, her life was filled with feelings of shame and rejection. Her father, an
alcoholic, left her mother just before she was born. Eventually, her mother, Ella, left Dana with her
parents to start a life with her new husband. Dana couldn’t depend on her father because of his
alcoholism. Although her grandparents showed immeasurable love to her, her stepbrother, and her
cousin—they were given nearly anything they asked for—nothing could replace the absence of their
When Dana was 14 years old her mother returned from rehab. Ella kept talking about Jesus and the
church she was attending. Dana went to church with Ella and later accepted Christ at a Christian
camp. The past 13 years have been a long process of rebuilding her relationship with Ella and
learning to trust her heavenly Father for all her needs.
After high school, Dana attended Bible school and eventually completed a BA in Bible and Theology.
While serving as a missionary in Macedonia, she met her husband, an ex-addict, at a Christian
conference. They now live in her hometown, where they have an outreach to local children. Dana
mentors tweens and teens and helps with a women’s ministry. She and her husband joyfully
welcomed their first child, Aron, this fall.

Stories From The Field
Bosnia Drug Rehab Center: Janet’s Story
Janet is Ella’s younger sister. Both enjoyed a peaceful childhood, working with their parents in
a small village store the family owned outside their mother’s birthplace. Janet and her husband
married young and were happy together until they began drinking and using drugs with Ella and her
second husband. After several years, Janet’s husband stopped using when he gave his life to Christ;
shortly thereafter, their young son, Ian, was born. Tragically, Janet’s husband died just after Ian’s
birth due to a congenital heart condition complicated by his years of heroin use.
For nearly a decade, Janet struggled with choosing sobriety over her drug use, overdosing six times.
She moved in with her parents so they could help her raise Ian, along with Ella and her husband’s
two children. Finally, Ella convinced Janet to go to rehab, where her commitment to Christ took
hold—she has been clean for the past seven years. The Lord has renewed Janet’s heart; she and Ella
both serve with the women’s ministry and among the Roma. But Janet’s life hasn’t been easy. Two
years ago, the two sisters’ mother died of congestive heart failure. Last year, 19-year-old Ian died in
his sleep due to the congenital heart defect he inherited from his father. “The Lord is the only hope
that sustains me through tragic times,” Janet says.

Stories From The Field
Cambodia Addiction Center: Ruom’s Story
Our children attended Sunday School, so I thought everything would be OK for them. To my great
shame, our youngest son, Vanneut, the son I loved, spiraled downward into drugs. I sold all that I
had—my land, my belongings—to get help. But it didn’t achieve anything. With few social services
available here, some parents protect themselves from their own children by hiring a government
worker to arrest them and put them in a “rehabilitation center.” Presumably, the beatings will bring
them to their senses. But this breaks our hearts; it only makes things worse. I didn’t do that, but my
son ended up in prison anyway—with a price on his head. But then God did an amazing thing—He
freed Vanneut from his cell. We had to put him somewhere to keep him safe, so we begged the Rural
Ministry Training Center to accept him—no one else would take him! Through the program he was
released from his addiction and graduated—with honors! His goal now is to help others like himself.
He is now on staff at a new kind of rehab center, where those who have been controlled by all sorts
of substances learn to put themselves under God’s control. My son, who I thought would be the end
of me, is now a source of hope and encouragement for me and others.

Stories From The Field
Cambodia Addiction Recovery Center: A Grandma’s Story
I’ve raised my children; I should be able to sit on the hammock and give directions to others for running the
household. But no, it’s not like that. Addiction, an inability to live together, and the lack of a future plan have
left me, the grandma, to deal with the fallout—children with no one to look after them. And worse, those who
should be caring for them are still depending on me for food. Many of my neighbors are facing this same
But one of my grandchildren found new life with God, who is her Rock, her Healer and Provider! For a while
she was doing great. I don’t know why, but she took a wrong turn and married a man like her father. He, like
so many others, is struggling with addiction. He, too, knows God and wants a different life from what he has
always known. But now they are in a mess. One wrong turn could ruin it all. They cry; they want to return
home. Who can show them the way back? There has to be a step for them between making a decision of faith
and living a new life on their own. The Addiction Recovery Center is that step, where they are taught simple
lessons of life that they can practice in a safe place.

Stories From The Field
Cambodia Addiction Recovery Center: Dani’s Story
My parents were drunkards. Dad killed my mom; then he sold me. I was raped by my adopted father,
thrown out of the house by my adopted mother, and by 11 years of age I was a prostitute, comforting
myself with alcohol. Eventually, there was nothing else in my life. I abused my own children and
became their burden. But then I heard an amazing thing—a God who was able to do the impossible! I
decided I wanted a new life. So, I slept at the gate of the missionaries’ home. They asked me to move
in, and God truly changed me! I learned how to live without alcohol, to eat dinner with family, to put
my children to bed with a prayer, and to laugh at my youngest child’s jokes.
I craved more healing, because my addiction was consuming. I needed to work through so many
things! My emotions were broken, my coping skills non-existent. I needed a program set up for my
needs. The missionaries loved me, but they were unable to stay with me at the house all the time;
there was no other place I could go. The accidental death of my son sent me into deep despair, and
I ended my own life. But through my death the Addiction Rehabilitation Center was born in the
minds and hearts of the missionaries. It was built too late for me, but there are many others who
need it and can find help.

Stories From The Field
Cambodia Addiction Recovery Center: Anonymous
I don’t know how it happened, and I am so ashamed. My parents are good people—church leaders
whom all their peers look up to. I never meant to cause them such pain. I just wanted to do my
own thing for a while: I rebelled, stayed out a bit late, had some “not so good” friends—nothing too
horrible. But it all led to drugs and an out of control life.
I crashed the motorcycle my parents gave me to help me feel loved. They are desperate; I hear it in
their voices when they beg me to change my ways. But the standard demands for obedience don’t
work. Even my mother’s tears can’t stop me. They want me to come home. I am destroying the family
that I love, but I can’t beat the drugs. I look like everyone at school, but I’ve got a horrid secret to
hide, and I don’t know where to turn! When I was a child, I gave myself to Jesus but forgot about
Him somewhere along the line. I want to return, but it seems impossible. I have heard about the
Addiction Recovery Center. The staff approached my dad about it—they say there is hope! They’ve
helped others return to God. With His help, maybe I can be freed and return to my family and to the
plan God has for my life. Please, God!

Stories From The Field
Paraguay Youth Camp Ministry: Sandra and William
William and Sandra lead a youth group in San Antonio, Paraguay. Although many of the teens in
the group are from unchurched homes, they enjoy meeting every Saturday to play, learn, and grow.
Sandra and William had an opportunity to attend a church youth camp when they were younger, and
it had a deep impact on their lives.
“First, I think it’s important for the youth to have the opportunity to meet new people, to relate to
other young people their own age,” Sandra says. “Also, for each young person to have the chance for
a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, just like I did at camp—that was the beginning of my journey
with Him.”
“I’m thankful I had the opportunity to attend camp because it affected me greatly,” William adds.
“Because of the camp dynamics, I learned teamwork and was exposed to God’s Word. I learned
many things I’ve never forgotten. We have a window of opportunity to reach these young people in
a way that they enjoy and respond to—at a crucial time in their lives.” William and Sandra will play a
critical role in developing the Paraguayan Alliance Youth Conference.

Stories From The Field
Paraguay Youth Camp Ministry: Daihana
Daihana is a college student in Asunción, Paraguay. Her testimony follows:
I was very fortunate to be able to attend a Christian camp when I was in high school. I know many
other kids didn’t have that chance because of finances. My days at camp were some of the best of
my life. It was the first time I really felt God’s presence. I had grown up going to church, but I didn’t
really understand what it meant to have a relationship with God. I think there was something about
being in another environment that allowed me to hear from God in a different way. I felt free to ask
questions in a way I couldn’t at home. Many of my friends had similar experiences and were set free
from things that had a hold on them. The things that I learned at camp continue to affect me. I know
I make better decisions and I have avoided many problems in my life because of what I learned there.
I’m grateful to have had the experience.

Stories From The Field
Paraguay Youth Camp Ministry: Kathy
Kathy is a high school student who will have an opportunity to attend youth camp for the first time
this year. When asked about what she hopes to gain from camp, she explained:
Last year I had the chance to attend the Alliance Women (formerly, Great Commission Women)
retreat and spend time with other ladies. I’d love the chance to do the same with young people my
own age who have the same goal—to seek God and know more about Him. That’s why I want to go
to youth camp—through attending camp, I hope to be set free. There are times when teenagers feel
frustrated, angry, or stressed by so many different things. So, I want to spend time reflecting on these
things, and I want to learn more about God, more about Christ—and to also have fun! Sometimes I
feel a great helplessness when I see so many young people without God and without the desire to
know Him. For economic reasons, many of them don’t have the opportunity to go to a camp. This is
where I feel powerless. I don’t know how to help them; I want them to know that they are not alone,
that there is a great and glorious God who helps and protects us.

Stories From The Field
Paraguay Youth Camp Ministry: Nelly and Digna (sisters)
“Events like this (youth camp) give us the opportunity to get to know young people from other churches,
which we can’t do simply by visiting on a Sunday morning or at a special event. I have many friends whom
I first met at a youth retreat, and it was an amazing time to spend with them. Having special events just for
youth is also a great opportunity for us to invite our friends who don’t go to church. They can meet other
Christians and learn more about God. My favorite part of attending camp was hearing others’ testimonies
about how God is working in their lives and how they are growing in relationship with Jesus. It was also
special having speakers specifically for us, talking about the things that matter to youth and affect our lives.”

Stories From The Field
Uruguay Encounters Ministries: Analía
When I was young, I had a deeply negative encounter with religion. I didn’t want anything to do with
the Church after that.
I’ve since experienced God’s love at different stages of my life, like when my first child was born
prematurely and with complications. But nothing has brought me closer to God than when I went
through a marital crisis. I opened my heart to Him during that time, and I no longer felt alone.
If it hadn’t been for God’s love, which made me feel like I mattered to Him and that I wasn’t alone, I
don’t know what I would have done.
Now God is my confidante, my Father. He guides my steps. Before I thought God was just far away;
I knew He existed, but I didn’t feel like He was part of my life. I am 47 years old, and I have spent
almost all my life looking for Him. Now I feel blessed—stronger. I know it is not my will, but God’s
will that guides my life.
I would like for my friends—all women really—to open their hearts, to take the time to reflect and
have an encounter with God. In this way they will never feel alone again. He is closer than we think.

Stories From The Field
Uruguay Encounters Ministries: Myriam
God is my Companion, my Creator, my Everything. He accepts me just the way I am and gives me
hope for a better life.
It hasn’t always been this way for me. I experienced God’s forgiveness because of my mother’s death.
All I felt was hate toward the man who murdered her, until I began attending a small-group Bible
study. I learned that God is love and He forgives me. I never thought I was worthy of His love. Now
I know that He gave His Son to forgive us. I also learned that justice belongs to God, not to me. He
forgives and punishes; it is not my responsibility. As a result, God removed the “backpack” full of
unforgiveness and pain I had been carrying around.
Before, I just thought about God when something bad happened, but now I talk to Him every day. I
feel Him so close to me, and I have learned to trust Him in everything. He always come through.
I wish that my friends—and all women in Uruguay—could experience His love, know His forgiveness,
and know that He accepts all of us. I would like them to have faith in God and learn how to pray,
because that is how we get closer to Him. I would like us to be a community of faith that helps each
other, despite our differences—that would make Uruguay a better place.

Stories From The Field
Uruguay Encounters Ministries: Natalia
God is my everything. My Friend, my Father, my unconditional Helper—my Strength. He is the
source of unending love in my life.
I have experienced His love in many ways. The first time I recall is when my newborn daughter was
being transferred to an intensive care unit at a hospital in another country. The outcome did not look
good. But my husband and I felt like God was with us, even though we were separated from her. I
didn’t doubt for a second that she would recover. God was in the middle of that situation.
In the past, whenever I have seen people do wrong things, I have had trouble seeing them through
God’s eyes of love. Especially people who hurt others, or who have hurt me. I have learned to forgive
them and rid myself of a victim mentality—to love and forgive them and let go of the pain. It’s been a
process. But seeing people who demonstrate Christ’s love is what has changed me the most.
We live in quite a secular country, and it is not easy to be a Christian here. Religion is looked upon
as a weakness, considered unintelligent. My hope is that other women will have the opportunity to
have a personal relationship with God and experience something as wonderful as I have.

Stories From The Field
Uruguay Encounters Ministries: Rosemary
After more than 10 years of Alliance international workers praying for her and sharing God’s love
through a weekly English Club, Rosemary, in her mid-80s, turned to God amid a deep struggle
with depression. On November 28, 2018, she prayed and opened her heart to Jesus after reading
Isaiah 61:1–3. She was ready to exchange her depression and hurting heart for God’s oil of joy and
gladness. Symbolically, she took off her black sweater and gave it to Jesus; she then put on a red
sweater representing His garment of praise. Years of painful solitude washed away as she cried on
my shoulder and received God’s love flowing through her. In the months since, she is doing much
better and is thankful for her relationship with God. Rosemary gives us warm hugs and greets us
with a deep smile of appreciation every time we meet. She has even attended church.
Recently, we asked Rosemary about how we could reach out to other women in Montevideo. Without
hesitation, she started talking about her heart for the many older single women living in the city who
are unseen and without community, often left alone because of broken family relationships. She sees
them every day and has already become a conduit of God’s love toward them!


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