God has brought me from death to life through Cartersville Outreach. A little over two years ago I was a broken woman who had lost everything, including herself. I first met Pastor David and the ministry in Bartow County Jail. When I got out, I went to church and felt the power of God, and since going to church my life has been forever changed. I have been set free and delivered from drug addiction, anxiety, depression, nicotine, and a toxic relationship. God has restored everything the devil has taken from me. I’m so blessed that the people of Cartersville Outreach are so obedient to God and welcome everyone with open arms. They helped me at the lowest point of my life and through God helped mold me into the woman I am today.
John 15:16 “You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you …”
This Bible verse could not be any more true when it comes to how Jesus found me on a Friday
night at the Good Neighbor homeless shelter. I had just been released from Paulding County Jail.
Trey York (who has since become my husband and our associate pastor) and another man from
Cartersville Outreach had come to the shelter that night for their weekly Bible study. I had no
intention of having an encounter with Jesus that night. I expected more of a pick me up – that’s
all I’d ever known Bible studies to be. Honestly, in my past, I thought I knew God. Yet addiction
(meth, accompanied by alcohol and marijuana) was slowly killing me. It had devoured 7 years of
my life. I had let my children down in so many ways and I felt like a complete failure of a mother.
When the men began to speak in that room that night, I can remember feeling a deep
awareness of how lost I was and how little I knew Jesus. I always thought I was saved. I did bad
things, but bad things happened to me. It wasn’t that I did not believe in God… But at that point,
I knew I was on the path straight to hell. It wasn’t until that night when I felt the presence of God,
I knew there was more to life. Who was this Jesus they knew? I wanted to know Him. These men
had been set free from everything I was dealing with. God brought me to that place to be set
free. I cried out to Jesus at that moment and He heard me. When I surrendered to Him,
everything changed. The very next morning I wasn’t able to cuss. I was amazed. I literally felt as if
someone had taken my brain out and put a new one in. I was a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away; behold new things
have come.”) I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t going back. I HAD to know Jesus. I was delivered
from addiction and this was only the beginning. I knew it wasn’t just about church or trying to do
right. I knew He was alive and my life would never be the same. I can remember the first time I
walked into Cartersville Outreach Ministry and felt such an overwhelming peace. When the
worship music started, I just cried and cried! I became undone before the Lord and He did such
a work in me! Through our pastor, David Bojczuk, the hand of God literally began to restore me
and break the chains of bondage in my life. (1 John 3:8 “The Son of God appeared for this
purpose; to destroy the works of the devil.”)
Looking back on my old self is like looking at a different person. Because of my addictions and
rebellion against God, I lost everything; custody of my kids, my license, most of my possessions
and all sense of what was moral. I had overdosed, almost been beaten to death, and was
sexually abused. I had been arrested so many times I lost count. I had been to mental hospitals
and rehabs. Mental health had given me 6-7 diagnoses and said that without mental health
medication I was like a scuba diver at the bottom of the ocean with no gear on… Those were the
words of mental health doctors. I give all the glory to God because here I stand almost 4 and half
years later FREE. I am now a wife to an amazing man of God who is the associate pastor at our
ministry. The Lord put us together and that is a whole testimony in itself! We have 4 beautiful
children who are being taught about Jesus and have experienced the power of God. I am a stay-at-home mom, which has always been the desire of my heart (Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the
Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”)
The Lord has given me a gift to sing and I have been worship leader at the ministry for 4 years
now! Singing praises to the King of kings is a joy and honor in itself! I was able to go back to the
place Jesus found me at the Good Neighbor homeless shelter and do a Bible study with my
husband. Now I go there with some of the women from Cartersville Outreach Ministry. I have an
amazing church family who I thank Jesus for everyday. I have seen many people restored and
touched by the power of God over these past years. God moves, not just in the jail and shelter,
but wherever we go when we are willing to speak on His behalf. If He can do it for me, He can do
it for you. Don’t try to understand it all or figure out how it will happen. Only believe that He is
able to change everything. Surrender it ALL to Jesus today.
“For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
I start with this scripture because God did the impossible in my life. According to statistics, only 3% of addicts who attempt to get clean stay clean. I stand here today to say that I am not a statistic, I am a miracle. My name is Dona Ellinger. I’m 36 years old. God did things in my life that can’t be explained in any natural way besides ‘God did that!’ God used Cartersville Outreach to reach me – the impossible to reach. Rehabs stopped accepting me, jails were tired of seeing me over and over again for the same thing, my family was tired of not knowing if they would wake up to that dreadful phone call that I was found dead or overdosed in the hospital. My kids were tired of missing their mama. Most of all, I was tired of the insanity of the life I was living, but I had no clue how to stop it. I had tried so many times, I was beginning to believe it was impossible for me; that I would never have freedom from the chaos that I was living. For over twenty years I used drugs – all of them – I did not care. Meth was the demon that was attached, and I couldn’t get out of its grasp. I shot up for eighteen years. I lost everything I owned atleast twice. I’d been to jail all over Georgia and Kentucky. It became normal to me. I’ve done and seen things I’ll never speak of, because the human heart wouldn’t know how to not judge me. On March 7, 2019 things changed for me. I looked up to the heavens and said “God, if this is all life has for me, I just assume be dead.” God had a plan for me. That same night, I got arrested and put in Bartow County Jail for being in a stolen vehicle with drugs and so much more. I got to my cell and on my bunk sat a little New Testament Bible. I picked it up. On Monday March 11, 2019 Cartersville Outreach came for church. Pastor David read “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. It made me think of my mom, so immediately the tears began to flow. But when he read “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, I broke with sorrow and repentance and… joy. He loved me when I was unlovable. I gave my life back to God that night. I stayed in my Bible and prayed constantly. For the first time in twenty years, I felt free and at peace. I faced prison time but my faith was in God and I kept my faith even when it looked as if my prayers were not being answered. My lawyer told me that I was making a mistake when I refused every offer that they offered me, but I knew God had something better for me. I was told that if I did not take a plea deal, that I would serve the max amount of time possible. God walked in that courtroom with me. The judge’s words were “I don’t know why I’m doing this, but for some reason I’m going to give you what you asked for.” Jaws hit the floor. I was also told “Do not come back, or it will be the max.” I went to a two-year Christian program, and if Cartersville Outreach had not reached the unreachable, I would not be where I’m at today. I completed the two-year program, I got my 8 year-old child back, all of my kids are in my life, I have my own place, I’ve held the same job for a year now, and I’ve been clean almost four years now. All because Cartersville Outreach touched my heart with God’s love through them. All glory be to God the Father. Freed, redeemed, and delivered.
I was bound but now I am free!
My whole life (before I fully surrendered to the Lord) was summed up in two verses. Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
From a young age, I knew the Lord and was told I had a calling on my life. I didn’t take that life, however. I walked through every open door the world had to offer me. I sinned, and then would run to the Lord, ‘Help me Lord!’ But soon after this plea, I was right back into the world. I was bound from a young age with sexual immortality – first through the mind and then to the flesh. I found importance and worth in sexuality; bouncing from one toxic relationship to another. I was bound in drinking, anxiety, depression, I was frequently taking emergency pills to prevent pregnancy, and I had many mental breakdowns. I was a 17 year old mommy to my first, then a few years later I had two more babies. I had two failed marriages that were mentally and physically abusive, and I suffered the feeling of loneliness more times than I can count. We experienced being homeless, bouncing from home to home. But oh good the Lord is! He never stopped trying to get me to come back to Him. My lukewarm days were done! I got on my knees and gave it all to my Lord, and He rescued me and my babies! He wiped me clean, broke all bondages, broke fear off of my children, and gave us new life! We are no longer living for the world but living for the Lord! His words to me one day as I was wrapped in His Glorious Presence changed and touched me in such a way that is now such a sweet song to my life. He said “I’m healing the emotions, pain, and soul. From this day forward, you will not be the same.” Glory to the Almighty, beautiful, worthy God! Thank You for taking me and my children from death and bringing us to life! I have never been the same.