Their names are Holly and Candace and their lives have been transformed forever — due to the supernatural power of Jesus Christ.
The two women, both mothers of young children, have received a fresh start in life after years spent enduring the turmoil of drug addiction.
Holly and Candace recently graduated from the program at the Breakthrough Center for Women in Olive Branch, an offshoot of Warrior Ministries, which has a separate shelter for men struggling through drug addiction, with both programs under the ministry of Pastor David Vincent.
"I was in jail every year of my life with 18 felonies on my record," Vincent said as he shared his own personal story and testimony. "If it wasn't for the grace of God, I would not be here standing before you today. God touched my life."
Vincent said he began doing some research on his own and discovered that the rate of recidivism or repeat offense is very high unless there is a change within a person's heart.
"The best chance for changing a life is a long-term Christian ministry," Vincent said.
Vincent began working with assisting homeless men and battered and abused women who had nowhere else to turn.
The Warrior Center began its women's ministry three years ago in Olive Branch.
There are currently 27 women enrolled in the program, including Holly and Candace.
In Holly's case, her father died when she was five from an overdose. Her biological mother passed away from heroin addiction several years later.
"My mother, the woman who raised me, tried to steer me in the right path," Holly said, adding that she rebelled. "At 13, I started using cocaine and soon graduated on to other drugs."
She said that she became pregnant and her adopted mother persuaded her to get an abortion.
She later married and had children but "ended up in prison."
"It all caught up with me again," Holly said.
Holly was able to get her life straight through the Breakthrough Center and is employed in a leadership position with the women's ministry program.
"All the times I could have died God had a covering over me," Holly said. "I decided to stay and give back to God," she said of her position with the Breakthrough Center.
She quoted Second Corinthians, Chapter 4, Verses 7-9: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
Candace said her grandmother lost three of her four children to drugs.
"My mother had a heroin and crack addiction," Candace said. "I could show you how to shoot heroin at age eight. By the age of 14, I started smoking weed and rebelling. I have three daughters and lost them to addiction. For more than a year, the Holy Spirit was ministering to me. The only place I could go to was God."
Candace said God sent a stranger to kneel and pray with her.
"I know God was waiting for me to completely surrender to Him. I discovered Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. I have been blessed with a hope and a future."
The Breakthrough Center in Olive Branch operates a thrift store known as Uptown Thrift Store which funds the Warrior and associated ministries.
Local benefactor, Dr. Robert Seymour, a Hernando dentist, also plays an instrumental part in supporting the ministry.
Warrior Ministries operates a 68-bed men's ministry in Memphis, 27 beds for women in Olive Branch and is poised to soon open a 60-bed women's facility in Bolivar, Tenn.
"If any man or woman will take that step, God will change a life," Vincent said.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.