Beneath her beautiful smiling face lies a history of childhood challenges ranging from sickle cell anemia to sexual abuse. LaTonya opted to end several pregnancies starting at age 16.
Her parents were never around and her extended family was dysfunctional except for her Aunt Mary whose husband was a Pastor. Through their influence, LaTonya first encountered the Kingdom of God.
But the unworthiness deep in her soul led to her marriage to an abusive man. At age 20 she ran away and joined the Army. She was deployed to Saudi Arabia to serve in the Gulf War.
After the war, she was unable to cope and drank heavily. During that time, painfully, her only child Jade drowned. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter and dishonorably discharged from the Army.
During a brighter, yet short-lived period in Dallas, she gave birth to a son and a daughter. This ended with a series of negative experiences including a third marriage to a suicidal addict and losing custody of her two children.
Finding herself without income she returned to alcohol. She resorted to living in abandoned houses where a woman shot at her, but the gun misfired. She was taken to Mobile Metro Jail on a felony 3 for living in an abandoned house.
It was there that Ms. Carrie Jones prayed over her to receive the Holy Spirit and “bonded her out.” Within the year, she was drinking again. On August 13, 2016, she was living in a tree house on Government Blvd. planning on stabbing a man who had stolen her bicycle. She followed the man and found herself at the Wings of Life where she experienced God’s “other plan.” She met Sister Inez who brought her into the program where I met her.
LaTonya always sits on the front row in our Grad Class on Tuesday nights drinking in the Word of God. Often, I have prayed for her on Thursday evenings after our larger, open service.
Now God is working mightily in her life. Her fractured family is being restored and she testifies, “I am no longer a useless alcoholic. I am a daughter, sister and mother. Most of all, I am a servant of the Most High God!”