By Chris Eyte
“You're gonna die a worthless drug addict" - the devil gloated over a hopeless married mum who cried out to Jesus Christ to rescue her.
Lisa Ortiz, now aged 42, woke up from a drugs stupor in a holding cell at Warren County Jail on August 17, 2012. She felt the weight of her sins and it was a defining moment.
"This is where Jesus Christ met me. I heard a voice speak to my heart: 'This is your last chance'.
"Scared and not knowing what He meant, I said: 'Lord, if you will help me, I'll serve you!' It was that quick, no tears - just God and me. Instantly He changed my heart, I didn't really understand what had happened but I knew something happened."
Lisa was used to jail but she needed no detox after her prayer. She found a new inner strength from God and started reading a cellmate's Bible.
She recalls: "I wanted to know this God I was gonna serve. I had no more compulsions, desires or overwhelming thoughts of the drugs, as if I had never had them. I walked in that jail a liar, a thief, a manipulator, a slave to drugs, and I walked out of that jail a brand new person."
Lisa's grandmother would have been overjoyed. She was a positive influence in Lisa's childhood and took the girl to church. Lisa prayed a commitment to Jesus when she was 11 but soon after found herself 'hanging with the wrong crowd' and began using drugs. She was put into a facility for troubled teenage girls several times by her parents and tried to burn it down with a friend. The youngster faced 16 charges of attempted murder, which was later changed to aggravated arson. Lawmakers sent her to youth prison.
On her release, Lisa met her future husband Paul, who was in the Air Force. They relocated to New Mexico and then to Okinawa, Japan. However their marriage was difficult as Paul was addicted to porn. The couple moved back to the USA in 2004 and Lisa began taking pills for back pain, which became an addiction. She was overspending money on medical care and put herself in rehab in 2007.
"I tried not to use the pills again," she explains, "but the compulsions were so strong. I fell after two months. This time I took Crystal meth. I became addicted after my first time, I loved it!
"My life went from bad to worse, real quick. I started selling or trading everything we had for the drugs. I got down to 100lbs (45 kg) with sores covering my body. My mind was tormented by demons to the point I moved into my bathroom. I ate, slept and got high in there. My kids would have to come in there if they wanted to see me.
"My children, son about 15 and daughter about 12 at this time, were very angry and ashamed, and rightly so."
Paul moved the family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to help Lisa but she still sought drugs there. So the family returned to Tennessee.
"I started robbing, stealing, lying to get my drugs. For several years I was in-and-out of jail. I got to a place in my life where I believed there was no hope for me. I did attempt suicide once but by God's grace I failed!"
God's grace has been the key to Lisa's transformation in the past six years. She and Paul now live in a small city in Tennessee. The couple have just celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary and Lisa works at a Christian Preschool. She is also ministering to women at a local jail and often uses Psalm 40:1-3 to share her testimony.
It says: "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord."
Lisa concludes: "God has done many, many wonderful things in my life in the past six years. He has called me to preach and teach the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ. We had lost everything: our home, cars, jobs, furniture, everything and God has restored everything! He also has and still is restoring my relationship with my children.
"My heart is to share the gospel to all people, especially those who are in the pit I was at! I have the answer to their problem and it is Jesus Christ! No program, no steps, just turning whole-heartily to Jesus Christ! I praise God alone for my salvation. He met me in my dark place and rescued me and my family. When no man, no medicine, no program could help me, Jesus Christ did!"•