My name is Samantha, but most people know me as “Sammie.” I’m a Big Fish Ministries (BFM) graduate, and this is my story…
Growing Up With Drugs
Growing up, my parents were drug addicts. My dad also sold and there were people in and out of the house, partying and drinking. My dad and I had a pretty good relationship but he was always angry, especially when he was drinking. That was the lifestyle I was used to.
My parents divorced when I was about 12. After that, my mom moved my brother and I to Robertsdale, Alabama, to be with my grandma. My brother and I changed schools, and that’s when my drug use started. My mom didn’t give us rules and we pretty much got to do whatever we wanted. That’s what she was doing and she didn’t have time to parent us.
I was 13 or 14 when my older brother first gave me hard drugs, I got pregnant at 14, and quit school when I had my first kid at 15. I stayed home, took care of my son, and got high as much as I could. When I was 18 or 19, I had my daughter.
This whole time, I was barely getting by. It’s really hard to be a mom and take care of your kids when you have a drug addiction.
What My Daughter Said
My mom died in 2017 and eight months later my dad died. I went to jail in August 2019 and lost custody of my kids. When I got out, I had nowhere to go.
My sister-in-law was friends with Tasha, a mentor at BFM. My brother asked me to go, but I denied that I had a problem. It was when my 13-year-old daughter tearfully asked me to please go to rehab that I agreed. Even still, my attitude was “fine, whatever.” I was at BFM for a couple of months, but I left in November 2019. My daughter told me on the phone that she didn’t want to see me until I completed it. That hurt, but I started seeing that I really did need to do this.
Once I went back, I could see how God was trying to restore my relationships. My daughter was going down the same path and it was so obvious that I had to show my daughter that I could change. If I didn’t do this, those chains of bondage were gonna stay on my family.
“He’s Not Just Changed My Life, He’s Changed My Heart.”
I went back and stayed. And it was so hard. There were times I didn’t think I could do it. My first instinct was always, “I’ll just leave,” but I prayed and God was so faithful. He got me through it.
While at BFM, I got a job as a cashier at Home Depot, even though I had literally no work history to put on my resume. I’d never had a legal job — only selling and stealing. Eight months after starting, I was promoted to supervisor.
It felt so amazing just to see that God could take me from where I was. He’s not just changed my life, He’s changed my heart.
The Most Amazing Feeling
I graduated in November 2020. The most amazing feeling was when my brother and my daughter came to my graduation, sat in the front row, and listened to every word of my testimony. When I walked off that stage, my daughter hugged me and told me she was proud of me and loved me. My brother, too.
Even though there were times they didn’t think I was gonna make it, they got to see me when I did. God is restoring my relationships.
I have a friend who struggled with addiction all his life and I just took him to BFM. Seeing me changed after being on a path to destruction, my testimony has inspired others to do something different with their lives.
Summit Church in Foley, Ala. just started community Celebrate Recovery gatherings and I’m honored to serve as one of the leaders. It’s amazing not just that I get to see other people change, but that I get to be there and help them through the process. Seeing people turn over their lives to the Lord is an amazing feeling.
“Nothing in Those Streets Are Worth It”
If you’re struggling with addiction, I’d say this: A year seems like a really long time. But if you look at all the years you gave to the streets, giving a year to yourself and focusing on what the Lord wants to do in your life is so worth it. After graduating, I can say I would do it 100 more times.
There’s nothing in those streets that is worth it. What is worth it: the freedom you’re going to get from this Christ-centered program.
Not only that, but BFM helps people in the community outside of the program. After Hurricane Sally, we stood outside of the Big Fish Ministries Thrift Store handing out ice and supplies. The thrift store aslo gives vouchers to the poor and homeless so they can get clothes and their Friday night GRO groups are for the community, for addicts, for families, and for people who just need to feel connected to something.