"Lord, these streets are difficult.
       But we are survivors.
       And we will survive."

SARA'S TESTIMONY


 

“Good afternoon.  My name is Sara.  I understand many of us have lost hope, lost faith, and lost trust; not just in each other but in ourselves.  I was once in this position myself, and I am here today because I finally heard God’s call.


Sara, twenty-two years old, described her life as a continuous struggle to survive.  Born in the Riverside area, she was taken from her biological family at age two and stayed in foster care until age eighteen.  She grew up believing it was for the best that she knew nothing about her family.  After leaving the foster care program, Sara was involved with Operation Safehouse for a short time, and then found herself struggling on the streets in a relationship with a man who turned out to be an alcoholic and abusive.  As he also did not know his biological family, they both traveled out of state to find out more about his, and soon were living desperately…

 

“In six to seven feet of snow and in a state we knew nothing about.   No food.  No money. No direction but God our Father.  We began to ask him for help daily.  We found a shelter for couples but we soon realized it wasn’t like the shelters back home (in Riverside).”


Still surviving out of state, Sara experienced the best in those who offered charity, and the worst of those who thanklessly and rudely received it (“acting like a pack of wolves fighting over a cat”).

 

“I remember in January of this year I was in the shelter (out of state).  I woke up one morning and I received a voicemail on my phone.  The words I heard were, ‘Sara.  Sara Jo.  I’ve been looking for you every day for the past 16 years.’    It was my sister.  My eyes were immediately filled with tears and I grabbed my mouth and slid down against a wall …my family found me.”


Sara returned to Riverside alone on January14, 2014, hurt and nervous, and anticipating that her “past would come to life” when she met with her sister.  She learned that her father was a registered sex offender, and passed away in 2009.  Her mother committed suicide just a few weeks after her father’s death.  Sara discovered that her mother’s belongings were handled greedily and inconsiderately.

 

“I couldn’t comprehend why someone would do that… Eventually I learned to forgive and forget.  To this day I’ve been told a million different stories about my childhood.  Sadly I will never be able to tell what’s true and what’s not.   But I do know this:  I felt like God wanted me to reach out to all of you … I just want everyone to know that the past does not make your future.  You do.  Believe in yourself.  Understand that no human deserves to be homeless or have a continuous struggle for food.  But also know this: nothing will fall from the sky except an occasional shooting star.   You have to understand it will take time and faith.”


“I was once told God won’t give us anything we can’t handle.  Some of us have had extremely difficult times in our lives but we must put those mistakes or betrayal behind you and move forward in our lives.  Pray.  Hear God.  I pray all of us have a safe trip home.”