People You Should Know: Gené

People You Should Know: Gené

I used to be one of those Christian kids who could recite Bible verse after Bible verse. I learned them to earn points in my Christian school … but I didn’t really know them as God’s truth in my life. When times got scary, I didn’t turn to Him.

The Roseland community on Chicago’s south side was not the safest place to grow up. My grandmother raised me in a Christian environment, but I kept losing the strong roots that had helped me walk through my faith. My beloved pastor got called to Africa for missionary work. Counselors would get sent back to home after they had earned their master’s degrees by working in my neighborhood. 

I felt alone in the stuff I was dealing with: Cycles of violence and abuse. Terrible family secrets. Worse, I felt like God didn’t understand. After my grandmother passed, I fell into alcohol and drug abuse. Years later, I moved to Rockford to escape an abuser — but I didn’t escape abuse. During that time, a home invasion threatened my four kids and me. The only way I dealt with it all was by using more drugs and alcohol.

The day the state took custody of my kids, I made them a tearful promise. “Mommy loves you! Mommy will come back for you! Mommy won’t give up, but Mommy needs help.”

I ended up coming to Rockford Rescue Mission’s Women’s Crisis Center, and then the Life Recovery Program. It felt like home—back when none of that crazy stuff was happening. I felt safe. My life has turned around here, and I’m on track to get my kids back. I am also learning patience. When I arrived, I wanted to “microwave” things for a quick solution, but what I needed was to open up and get genuine with people. Thank God, the Mission has helped me to do that.

Gené’s testimony is featured in a previous issue of The Rescuer.