I was born in a small town in Colombia in 2003. My biological family consisted of my mom, dad, and two older brothers. I lived with them for eight years of my life. As a child, my parents were alcoholics and I constantly experienced physical and verbal abuse. At five years old, I learned to run away, hide from home, and lie so I could survive. But before I turned nine years old, I was taken away from my parents.  I was getting sick and more physically abused. The police provided everything that I needed for about two months. During this time, other family members took custody of me. I was very sad that I had to leave everything that I had known for so many years.

Then, I began experiencing sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. I lost all trust in people.  After this, I ended up at three different orphanages for four years because there were no other family members who could take me. So, I decided to wait for a family to adopt me. I waited for a long time and prayed every morning and night that I would be adopted. I was getting discouraged, but finally, that day came after a lot of waiting and prayer. My adoptive family fought for me for a whole year. I was very thankful to the Lord and my new family for giving me a second opportunity in life.

My parents have always expressed the love they have for me, but I had a hard time receiving it and giving it back. I came to their home with behaviors like dishonesty, a temper, not having respect for authority, running away from home, and getting defensive and rebellious with my mom. For years, my parents tried a lot of things to help me, but I rejected all that they offered me. In 2020, I attempted suicide. Then, I found out about Mercy by looking online.

Once I arrived at Mercy, I was in quarantine for five days because of COVID restrictions. I felt lifeless and trapped in strongholds that I didn’t know how to cope with. On the fourth day of quarantine, I got on my knees, and I fully surrendered to the Lord. I begged Him to help me because I couldn’t carry all the burdens, lies, and shame that I felt. One morning something unexplainable happened. I woke up dancing, and I was so full of joy that I couldn’t stop smiling. As time went by, the Lord started to pull out the hurts that I had. At Mercy, I learned different skills that are going to help me walk in freedom all my life.

One of the most important things that I’m going to take away with me is knowing who I truly am and that words have so much power. We have a choice of life or death, and I have chosen life and freedom.  I have also learned what true healing and true love are and how to forgive others just like Jesus teaches us to. I have processed some emotional grief, and I renewed my faith in the Lord through baptism, making the commitment to change my life to be more like Him.

After Mercy, I plan to get my GED so I can apply for college. I also plan on getting my driver’s license and a job. Moving forward, I want to lead Bible studies with “Keys to Freedom” in English and Spanish. I’m very excited to help set people free from bondage and past hurts. Now that I am graduating from Mercy, I hope to share this freedom and my testimony with others and achieve my goals for the future. I’m thankful to the Lord for restoring and redeeming everything that the enemy has stolen from my life.

For so long, I have always tried to find the answer to my “whys,” and I didn’t find it. I wanted the freedom others said they had. It took a lot of work, but I can say I found freedom, joy, and life.