“They’re making a difference here!”

1114_WMM_NL_04Growing up in the foster care system, Chelsea experienced abuse and neglect from a very young age. When she was adopted, it seemed like things might improve…but tragically, she was sexually abused by the people who adopted her.

When she told an adult about the abuse, they didn’t believe her. “Not only did they not believe me, but they ended up hating me…so I shut down.”

Chelsea also had troubles at school, where she was bullied and harassed by her peers. Without a network of family and friends, Chelsea began seek attention from the wrong people.

I had no sense of family, no sense of love. Nobody was fighting for me.”

At 18, she was kicked out of the house. “I had nowhere to go,” she remembers. “I slept in a backyard in a tent – it was really cold. I was walking around numb, in shock…I couldn’t believe I didn’t have a home.”

Chelsea had never been homeless before, but spending one night outside was enough for her. She went to the library and looked up local homeless shelters – and found our Center for Women & Children.

The minute she walked through our doors, Chelsea felt the love of Christ in a place that that made her feel protected for the first time in her life.

The staff made me see that people do care about you here,” she says. “They not only took me in, but they took extra steps to show me love.”

Chelsea is part of our Fresh Start Program, which gives women looking to begin again the tools they need to accomplish their goals. The program has also helped Chelsea develop the network of support she’s always needed.

“I’ve gotten to make some good connections through the program. I have a church family – they’re really working with me through the process of healing. I have a spiritual mom, really awesome friends and people who are like family. I’ve never had any of those things.”

Today, Chelsea dreams of being a missionary and spending her life serving other people. “I’d like to build that loving relationship with people who have been where I’ve been and help them know that God has been there all along, even if they don’t fully understand it or see it.”

She’s grateful for the impact Wheeler Mission has had in her life – and in so many others’. “They’re really making a difference here. They’re taking broken lives and helping people grow in Jesus.”

To read the most recent issue of Inside Story, click here.

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