by Chris Eyte
A 'WHIRLWIND' is how Hannah Perez describes the presence of God she encountered while 'chopping up lines of cocaine' on the toilet of a motel restroom, hiding from police, with her little daughter next to her.
Her boyfriend was in the bedroom as she bent down to sniff the drug. Then she heard a sound akin to a whirlwind entering the restroom. She had become involved in occult books and was familiar with the presence of demons but the sudden sound of the whirlwind was distinct. It was holy.
"I knew demons were eerie, fearful, ugly and evil," she recalls, "No doubt about it. This whirlwind was holy, it was something different.
"It was like this Being, the One who held my life and created me, He knew me, and said to me, 'If you don't stop what you are doing I will take you away'.
"I was so afraid, I knew He is the One that had life and death in His hands."
It wasn't the first time Jesus Christ had challenged Hannah, now aged 28. She grew up in a Christian home in Salinas, a small town in California, with her four sisters.
She had a brother too but he was shot dead and the pain of the trauma broke her family apart. Hannah herself became depressed and angry. She was put into a private school aged 12 but her rebellious streak grew - and she even 'opened doors to the devil by praying to him'.
"I started to ditch school and smoke weed, and drink at the age of 12. My story is long and has so many chapters. I became so promiscuous and dived into things I shouldn't have."
One day, aged 14, she was fired upon by a man using a 12 gauge rifle in a gang fight. She 'screamed the name Jesus' and ran for her life. A bullet scraped her waist, leaving a burning sensation.
The 'strict' church she attended also made her angry and she ran away to Mexico. Life was non-stop parties and abusive relationships until she was in her early twenties. By that time Hannah had given birth to two children out of wedlock.
"In all of this Jesus had been calling me through dreams, through a still, small voice that would speak to me when I was drunk, alone, whispering my name, 'Hannah'.
"It was such a calm, soft but clear voice. I didn't respond."
Hannah's reckless life continued and she met friends one day, to smash windows on a car. The owner of the vehicle owed one of them some money.
Hannah noticed a woman observing the vandalism through a nearby apartment window. She was rocking her baby and staring at Hannah.
Hannah remembers: "I said, 'Why does this women keep looking at me? She was very bold. I say that because we were not friendly people to approach.
"She walked outside to the front of her porch, to walk to the car window near where I sat and said these words to me: 'Jesus loves you and is calling You! He is going to use you to preach the gospel to many people. God is going to use you to set people free'.
"I had chills all over me, but I was so stuck in my mess of a life. I was stuck in depression and uncertainty on how to surrender. I was unsure. I wasn't ready to leave my drugs, alcohol, stealing and partying.
"So we drove off and I cried inwardly because it felt like all of my sin caught up with me and I started to feel a huge heaviness."
Later on, after Hannah met the 'whirlwind' in the motel restroom, as she was about to take cocaine, she made a decision to flush the drugs down the toilet. She also told her boyfriend that God was calling her to serve him. Police arrived at the motel and the couple were arrested.
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calling you!In a jail cell, Hannah then had a dream:- "In the dream I was walking with my two daughters, hand-in-hand in a place like a forest and dirty ground. The ground began to crack. As the ground broke I saw lava coming out covering everything in place until it finally swallowed me and my children.
"My kids weren't there but it felt like I was burning in hot, boiling oil. I was burning, my whole body and soul. The pain was so unbearable I cried and screamed out to God and said: 'Please! Kill me God! Please kill me - I can't take this pain'. It felt like an eternity there.
"When I woke up on my bed in jail I was afraid and I said to God I don't want to go there ever. I said whatever I have to do, to not go there, I will do it.
"I said: 'God, I want to know you. I want to know who you are. I want to know you for myself and not how others make you out to be'.
"I said: 'I don't know how to serve you but you will show me'."
Hannah's life changed and upon her release from jail she stopped stealing, cursing and fighting people. She stopped doing all wrong things known to her.
"I surrendered. I found a church that laid hands on [prayed for] me. For the first time in my life I felt God's love, something like warm oil being poured out on me. A love I have never felt before in my life!
"God told me He loved me and made me for Him. God told me I was looking for love in all wrong places."
Hannah now feels called to share her story of God's love and forgiveness. She says that Jesus has restored what was lost in her life of sin.
She adds: "The Bible says that Satan only comes to kill steal and destroy but Jesus came to set the captive free.
"In the world there's many captives: captives of sin, depression, anxiety, fear, hate, anger, unforgiveness.
"God died on the cross for our sin once and for all. To those who believe will have everlasting life. Jesus loves each of us."
Hannah now works for Vessels for Honor Ministries in California. She is pursuing a study programme and 'chasing my dreams'.
"My plan for the future is to preach the Gospel to young men and women, boys and girls. To set captives free through Jesus living in me. God has a plan for everyone of us and the devil is fighting so many from knowing that. No eye had seen or ear has heard the good that waits for those who love Him."•