- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - There is a verse in the Bible, Hollie Prebble says, which led her back from hell.

In the winter of 2013, she was stumbling as she walked the streets of Hutchinson. Her feet were frozen. It was bitter cold and snowing. She and her boyfriend, Robert, were wearing lousy shoes, with only hoodies to cover their heads. They had no gloves on their hands. They walked because they had no jobs and no home for warmth.

The Bible verse led her from a homeless, meth-using addict to a drug-free, employed mother with a home and a faith community that offer her support.

“For the Lord hast rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” Prebble reads the passage, tears welling up in her eyes. “That’s Psalm 116: 8-9.”

Life didn’t turn around for her overnight, or even in a month. Her story wasn’t a fairy tale with a happy ending.

It’s an ongoing, true, gritty life for the 31-year-old who most days has the best intentions. She learned the hard way there was no magic pill, just the reality that every day she begins new, hopefully taking two steps forward. Some days she takes three steps back.

The Hutchinson News (http://bit.ly/1MHCmxb ) reports that with a history of drug use, she and her boyfriend had become clean in the past. There had been a room for them at New Beginnings. Hollie had a job in the Hutchinson Community College cafeteria and Robert was even taking classes. But they slid backward and started using drugs again. That was against the rules, and they lost all they had worked to achieve.

On one particular frozen day, they walked from church to church, asking for help. But they had taken from everyone they could, and people were tired of this pair who had always slipped backward.

If they had to sleep outdoors, the back entrance of the library with an awning offered some protection from the wind. Mostly the meth kept her awake and not too hungry. Other times they would crash in the hallway of an apartment building just to get out of the snow.

If they were lucky, there was an unheated garage, with feces and trash covering the floor. A filthy mattress to crash on top of and even a rocking chair.

On that one particular frozen day, she was in the garage, rocking and rocking.

“I was screaming at God to get me out of here,” she said. “Get me out of here and make it stop.”

Desperately she wanted to be clean, but she was addicted to meth. On top of all that, she was pregnant again. She was already the mother of three children from ages 9 to 4. Her mom was raising them.

Overcome by distress and sorrow, she had reached her bottom.

“I wanted my baby to be healthy and I wanted to get clean, but I kept slipping back,” she said.

On that frozen day, they walked into the Red Cross office. Someone suggested they talk to a social worker at the health department.

But Hollie knew a pregnant mother addicted to meth would not be seen favorably there. She was afraid they would take the baby growing inside of her once it was born.

Moreover, no matter how desperate and down and out she became, ending the pregnancy wasn’t something she would consider.

“We were so sick and tired and stuck and didn’t think there was a way out,” she said.

Then someone at Red Cross suggested they try the Open Door Pregnancy Center.

Bev Nisley, who works at Open Door has seen her share of people who were down and out. But never anyone as desperate as Hollie and Robert.

“The first thing they did was wash their hands. They were very dirty,” Nisley said. Then the folks at Open Door fed them. The couple was ravenous.

Open Door paid for a motel room for a week. Bev and her husband, Ron, invited them to come to CrossPoint Church with them. They even gave them a ride.

“Something changed for me that day in the garage,” Hollie said. “But getting to the point that I could make the change was a struggle.”

They ended up at the motel for two weeks, CrossPoint paid for another week. They were offered food. Someone at church had work for Robert.

“I tried so hard to stay clean,” Hollie said.

But the addiction had been with her for 10 years and she ended up relapsing.

“We tried to stay in touch,” Bev said. “But they were not always that responsive.”

The church continued to be supportive, giving them money. But when Hollie relapsed, they had to practice tough love and stopped the handouts. They felt they were not taking their recovery seriously.

“They dropped out of our lives,” Bev said. “We loved and cared about them, so it hurt.”

Walking into Open Door, the first time Hollie noticed a sign on the wall - ” Jesus said, I am the door. If anyone enters by me they will be saved.” It stuck with her. She realized these people at Open Door really wanted to help them. And she didn’t want to use them.

“I tried to get on the right track,” Hollie said. “I wasn’t going to call them until I got things together.”

By the time she was eight months pregnant, she felt a pull-back through the door.

Mentors at Open Door swung into action. They offered everything necessary from a crib to baby clothes, counseling and parenting classes. A week after Hollie and Robert were settled in an apartment, a daughter, Faivann, was born.

Hollie says it’s hard to describe what it’s like going from an environment where everyone is out for themselves, to people at Open Door and CrossPoint who genuinely care about them. Her Grow Group from church hosted a baby shower.

Both Robert and Hollie were baptized and Faivann was dedicated at the church. Then in July, they were married. There were still problems. Robert had a hard time holding down a job, they were evicted and Hollie relapsed. Her mother took Faivann, and then the Department of Family and Children Services placed Faivann in foster care.

After a week of falling deeper and deeper, in October 2013, Hollie caught herself.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening,” she said. “I made a choice. That was my turning point.”

She checked into a treatment center in Wichita. When she graduated, Bev and Ron allowed Hollie to live with them.

“I leaned on God and went to church,” Hollie said.

Again, she found a home and made good on her promise to herself. She found a job as a prep cook at a local nursing home. And before long, Hollie and Robert were expecting another child. Hunter was born April 14, 2014.

It sounds like the happy ending to a story. But it wasn’t. Rob was sent to prison for 11 months when his son was 8 days old. He couldn’t stop using drugs. It was Hollie who turned him in to the police.

This time she was practicing tough love. She had worked too hard to lose what she has gained in the past two years. She wasn’t traveling that path again.

After getting Faivann back, her life has been focused around her two children and work. She faithfully attends her Grow Group and church every week.

“There were so many people who barely knew me, but they cared about me,” she said.

Now she tries to do for others the way they did for her. She is working on getting her GED online and hopes someday for a career as a drug and alcohol counselor.

“Without Open Door, I don’t think I would be alive,” Hollie said. “I want to be a drug and alcohol counselor, where I can share my faith. There are so many people in this town addicted, if they could just find Jesus Christ.”

Still to this day she comes to the center for prayer whenever she is struggling with life. She lives paycheck to paycheck, and if she needs something for her children, the people at Open Door help her.

No one knows how Hollie’s story will end. But for now, she is grateful to be back in the land of the living.

“Isn’t this a happy ending?” she asked. “I was a drug addict with no hope, and now my babies and Jesus are my life.”

___

Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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