Santana never had a chance. That’s what some people would have said. When she was just four, Santana lost her dad to a heroin overdose and the stepfather who took his place was an abuser. Santana’s mom loved her, but as an addict herself she couldn’t give her daughter the care she needed. Santana wanted to get away from the despair she saw around her. She got a job while still in her teens and started paying her own expenses. She was determined not to become a drug user but the pull of sin was too strong. “I got sucked in,” she recalls, “I became an addict.”
Santana was a heroin addict, headed for prison. It seemed that the drug life would be Santana’s destiny. “This is where you came from,” a voice in her head told her. “This is all you’re going to be!” She began sinking into the world of crime she had tried so hard to escape. Soon she was standing before a judge, facing an eight-year prison sentence. Santana prayed, “God, please, give me another chance!” Then the judge offered her an alternative. Instead of prison, Santana could enter a recovery program run by the Albuquerque Rescue Mission. Hearing about the Women’s Center of Hope, she says, “It rang in my heart. It had God written all over it.”“This is my second chance,” she thought. That was the beginning of Santana’s new life.
Now, her days are filled with purpose, discipline, and God’s love. Every morning at six o’clock, she joins the other women at the Center for devotions. They have a structured program of work, exercise, chores, and study. Education is an important part of their transformation.Santana has been in the program for over a year now. “It’s exciting,” she says, “because I’m clean, I’m sober.” Best of all, she’s found her true identity in Jesus Christ. “I am who God says I am! I am His child and He loves me!” she says, “Now I know that I am not what the world says I am. That’s not me.”
“Now,” she says, “what I want to do is become a psychologist, a counselor. And I want to open up a ministry to work with teenagers.”