Riches to Rags, Rags to Riches


I went to high school in the early ’70s in the midst of the so-called Sexual Revolution. The motto of our times was, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”1 Of course, this song had nothing to do with love. It really meant, “Screw whoever you can; don’t be loyal to anyone.” There were a couple thousand kids in our high school, but I think you could count the number of virgins on two hands.

Jill Jones (not her real name) was the most popular girl in school. She was beautiful, with long blond hair, blue eyes and a great body. She was always the best-dressed woman on campus. Our school was very ethnically diverse, and prejudice was rampant, but Jill’s favor somehow transcended racial tension. Everyone liked and respected her. But the most amazing thing about Jill was that she was a virgin, and everybody knew it! She carried herself like nobility, like a princess, like someone special. I loved her like a sister and looked up to her.

Then one day I was in the locker room getting dressed after P.E., and I overheard two guys talking. One guy said, “Last night I took Jill Jones to a party. I got her drunk, and I screwed her!” (As you can imagine, it was quite a bit more graphic than that.)

The other guy said, “Wow, what a score!”

I was stunned. I didn’t know what to think or say. I ran all the way home, threw myself on my bed and wept for hours. I wasn’t sure why I was crying, but my heart was broken, and my grief left me speechless. Looking back now, I understand that Jill was our hope. She was a lighthouse in the midst of a bad storm, a monument to the impossible. She was the underdog in the battle for righteousness, and secretly, many of us who were still virgins or wanting our purity restored were rooting for her to win.

But things got worse. Within a couple months, Jill began to dress like a slob. Her once vibrant countenance was now etched with sadness and grief. Her confidence fell away, replaced by a head hung in shame and covered by ragged, unkempt hair. Soon she was smoking and hanging out with the drug crowd. She had lost her self-respect and dropped her trophy. Instead of picking it up again, she stepped on it and smashed it into little pieces.

I saw Jill at my 30-year class reunion. She was in her third marriage and had been dragged through the mire of life, crushed by mean men, virtueless tramps. But thankfully, I learned that her story didn’t end there. Later in life, Jill found the Lord. He gave her the strength and the fortitude she needed to emerge from the mire of a miserable existence. He dusted her off, recovered her purity and restored her trophy. She was older now, her beauty tempered by the sands of time. But her self-respect was back, her stately walk had returned and nobility reigned in her eyes again. I will never forget Jill. To me she is more than a fond memory. She is a lesson in life, a parable of riches to rags and rags to riches. She will forever stand as a monument in my memory—as a monument to the destruction caused by lust and shame, but far more, as a testimony to the greater power of true love and grace.



1.   Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “Love the One You’re With” (lyrics and music by Stephen Stills),4 Way Street [Live] (Atlantic/Wea Records, 1971, 1992).



Trust Is Key

A while back I dated a girl who was extremely insecure and for some reason I took on the responsibility of “fixing” her. I made it my goal to make sure she knew how incredibly beautiful and lovely she was. The problem was, I was very insecure myself and we had both put each other in a place that only God should have had in our lives.


No matter how much I tried to love her, she struggled to receive it because she didn’t think she was worth it. And to add to that, I had some trust issues that weren’t helping matters. I recognized that there were various things damaging our connection, but I never addressed them because I was afraid of hurting her feelings. I also realized I had gotten into the relationship for the completely wrong reasons. It was unhealthy, co-dependent, and smothered by insecurities. I began to build a case and get frustrated, and she didn’t seem be getting any less insecure. With insecurity comes a lack of trust. There was such a low level of trust that we didn’t feel safe, which makes sense, because when you don’t know who you are, it is impossible for someone else get to know the real you.


Trust takes time to build and should increase as the relationship progresses, but there was very little in this relationship. Not only were we individually not whole; we didn’t trust one another enough to protect the other’s heart. The relationship became stagnant and did not develop. For a relationship to work, you need to fully trust that you are seeing the real person and that you like the real them. I learned this the hard way by entering a relationship with little trust already built. Since learning my identity, not taking on other people’s responsibilities, and choosing to trust, my life looks, and is, so much healthier!


Ashley-James, 24, California, US

Real Love Satisfies

When I look back on my life, I see that when I was in relationship with someone, I was focused on how much could I get, and how much would they give. After I took all I could out of them, I got bored with my partners, but I would stay with them out of guilt. I said I was staying because I loved them, but my love was conditional on how much they gave me sex, attention, or sacrifice, and how much they didn’t inconvenience me. I would go out my way for them and fight for them, but only if I was getting what I wanted in return—sex and other things.

After allowing God to reveal real love to me—real *unconditional* love—I have been unable to think of myself. It is no longer about how I can get something from someone; it’s all about my partner and how great I can make her, how amazing can she be, how can I help her achieve her goals. It’s about laying down my life and dreams to fulfill hers, and *letting* her do the same for me. It’s about dying to myself, and together raising each other up.

I have learned that love means “not doing” as much as it does “doing.” If you can maintain your sex drive toward women, and then toward the woman of your dreams, not sexualizing them for your emotional and momentary gain before marriage, then you will be able to give her anything and everything. You will be able to focus all your love towards her. Sex is not love. Sex outside of love says “satisfy me,” where as sex in marriage is an expression of love that says, “Let me satisfy you and your needs.”

Parker, 25, California, US

The Bag

Pressure and Protection


I sat in my buddy’s living room watching FUSE. At this point, I was a still a virgin but I had become very aware of the opposite sex. My buddy, Tim, went into his older brother’s room to find a controller so we could hook up the Xbox 360. However, when he came out he was holding a big bag with an even bigger grin on his face.


Tim wasn’t a virgin. I guess you could say he got lucky, but he hardly remembers because he was so drunk when it happened. His brother, on the other hand, had a new girl with him every time I came over.


Tim dumped the bag out in the middle of the living room table. So many condoms fell out that some started to spill over the table top.

“What the heck? Who needs this many?!” I exclaimed.

“Dude, I’m gonna’ take some.”

“No! Your brother’s gonna’ kill you!”

“He has so many! He won’t even know. In fact, you should take one,” Tim held one out. There in his hand was the plastic wrapper with the all too-familiar protruding ring-shape. “That is of course, unless you’re too much of a girl?”

“What? No, I’ll take it…”I reached out and grabbed the condom. I then took out my wallet and slid it inside. What the heck am I doing? My parents haven’t even talked to me about sex! I felt pressured to use the condom, but I had no idea how.


All throughout high school, I remember the power I felt knowing I had the ability to have sex anytime. Why? Because I had a condom! I didn’t care about the repercussions, I had no grid for it because no one I cared about ever stopped to talk to me about it. In fact, I almost felt encouraged. As long as I was careful not to catch anything, then everything would be just fine. Protection — that’s what I had.


But I was wrong.


This girl, who I won’t name, captured my heart. I did everything for her. I texted her often and called her late. After school, I would walk her home then turn around and find my way back to my house. I cared about her. I used to think to myself, “If I could spend this one condom… I would spend it on her.” But I didn’t. Much like the other girls in my class, she got drunk and gave herself to someone else.


The worst part was, I was at that same party when she “disappeared” with some guy. It broke me. I couldn’t even look at her for the longest time. Or him. I lost my appetite and cried often.


I realized something through that experience: sex is powerful. I thought I had it all figured out because I had 3 oz. of rubber and plastic in my back pocket. I was wrong. I knew I wanted to be a man who valued sex. I carried around that condom for another year. When it was time to get rid of it, I decided thereafter to save myself for the woman of my dreams. But when I finally threw it away, I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Instead, I felt like I had discovered the real me: a man who felt no pressure to lose his virginity.


– Victor, 22 Arizona US

One Day at a Time

I never learned about love and intimacy and being romantic, nor to love my wife as Christ loved the church. If my parents taught me about that kind of love, I missed it. I heard about love and intimacy and being romantic to objectify females and allow me to seek out sexual gratification. The adult entertainment industry has been in my life since I was approximately 4 years old. From the age of 10 until a week before I graduated with my degree in Biblical Counseling (May 15, 2010), my parents owned an adult book store.

I was the cool guy; the “go to guy” for condoms, etc. Even had teachers in junior high jokingly offer me higher grades if I provided them with an item from my parents store. At the age of 19 I worked there for a year and was exposed to much more than I had ever expected. I had a hard time maintaining long term relationships, seeking out sexual gratification from every female I met or dated. I made it a point to count all my sexual encounters; often forgetting their names and the fact that they had emotions and feelings that I took for granted.

I have been married 4 times, with my current marriage of 14 years. I have been a Christian since 2006 and I love the Lord with all my heart, yet I struggle with internet pornography. I seek it out more than being intimate with my wife. She has caught me and I have sought forgiveness, yet I haven’t repented. This is part of my fight of giving up everything and submitting to God. I have a lack of trust from my youth, still hold a grudge against my step-dad for his alcoholism, and the fact that he physically abused me and I am mad at my mom for not protecting me. I share this for the youth and for the young adults and adults my age or older who still struggle.

There is a reason for everything and there is a reason for God. My struggle continues, because I have allowed my prideful nature to reject all help and this has led to a dysfunctional marriage and family. I never thought that pornography would have any type of effect on me as I grew up, because I was sexually active, yet it has. Even more STD’s are a result of my lifestyle and something I will have with me for the rest of my life. God, nothing is too great for You to handle. Break us down and allow us to see Your glory. Tell us that we can live without these habits and hangups. Speak to our hearts and teach us that intimacy is in the heart and soul, not the sexual organs. Romance is for love, not seeking sexual gratification. Lord, I ask for forgiveness for those feelings I disregarded and fill my heart with conviction and the desire to repent and never look back at this sinful desire. Let me be one of your disciples to get this message out to others and to teach them Your way is the right way and there is no other satisfaction than an intimate relationship with You. In Jesus’ beautiful and glorious name, AMEN.

I pray for everyone who has posted here and who hasn’t. Know that you came to this site for a reason. It is HARD to write here and open yourself up not only to God, but to total strangers, yet remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and came here for help and support. Pray out to God for strength and direction. I pray for every visitor, whether the one who struggles, the spouse or significant other of the one who struggles, the victims of sexual abuse and those who are the abusers. Seek God and He will give you shelter. Your testimony is the beginning of healing and restoration. May your heart be heavy no more and may your walk with be more Christ like.


Victim to Victor


I spent the first 12 years of my life in Northern Virginia. When I was only 10 years old, family members abused me. Before the abuse I was a pretty normal little girl: I loved to read, collect stamps, draw and I was a member of the Barbie fan club. Unfortunately, after I was abused, I became a different little girl. No one helped me or validated the abuse I had suffered, so part of me went into hiding and I became depressed. I didn’t want to be around anyone, no longer went to school, and eventually ran away when I was 12.

When I ran away, I was a walking target for traffickers and predators who look for damaged children: I had been abused, I was depressed and was in desperate need of help. It didn’t take long for traffickers to find me. Surprisingly it was a couple – a man and a woman – who found me on the streets of Washington D.C. They took me off of the streets where I was hungry and alone and brought me into their home where they fed me and seemed to care for me. That is, until they initiated me into the world of trafficking. They used me for a few months until they no longer needed me and then sold me to another trafficker. Right in our nation’s capitol, I was sold into trafficking to a man named Moses. Soon after buying me, Moses took me to New York City where he trafficked me for 8 years.

During my time on the streets of New York I was abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, addicted to drugs, jailed, and more all before I was 18 years old.

To ease my pain, I became addicted to drugs. This habit became very expensive and I was no longer a valuable commodity to my trafficker, so he released me into New York. It was terrible; I was addicted and alone in the city. Thankfully, at a methadone clinic where I had sought treatment, I met a woman named Anita who helped me to find my sister who had apparently been living in the nearby city of Philadelphia and that Christmas, she helped me reunite with my family.

After a very difficult time detoxing off of methadone I started to slowly get my life back. I lived in Washington State, Mississippi and eventually came back to Virginia where I got married and tried to have a baby. Soon after I starting trying to have a baby, I found out that because of all the trauma I had endured on the streets, I was infertile. Somehow, I think it was a miracle; I was able to have treatments and can happily say that I was able to have a daughter.

In all of that moving around and having my daughter, I kept my past a secret. No one knew about the years I had been trafficked or abused but me. Then one night, when my daughter was 15, she decided to run away. My past came rushing back to me and I was so afraid that the same things that happened to me would happen to my daughter. I couldn’t just sit around, so I spent the whole night making phone calls and looking for her. Thankfully, I found her the next morning and, shortly after, told her about my story. After that, she never ran away again and she is doing well today. I have a wonderful grandson and I live a content and quiet life.

“I believe I am alive today because God watched over me all those nights on the streets. He kept a part of me untouched inside – despite all the men and all the trauma I endured – a part of me remained clean and whole.  I call that part of me my soul.”

I choose to believe that I went through all that I did, so that today I can help others. If I can educate one person or give hope to one victim of trafficking, then I am doing my job and everything I went through was worth it. I choose to be a victor not a victim – not just to survive, but to thrive. Today I tell my story whenever I can so I can help others.

— Story from the Richmond Justice Initiative

My Mess Becomes a Message

A positive pregnancy test? My heart sank. How could this be? I was only seventeen. I just wanted it to disappear. Fear flooded my entire being. They promised I would be okay. They assured me they could “help.” They promised it would not ‘hurt’. Little did I know that this decision would ‘hurt’ for the remainder of my life. Isolated and filled with shame in that dark, cold clinic, I chose to have an abortion. That would be the last time my heart would smile for ten years. As I walked out of that clinic, I not only left my child there; I left pieces of my soul and spirit.

The next ten years were filled with complete self-destruction: addiction, manipulation, deceit, multiple men, domestic violence, and even a stint in jail. I hated myself. I felt completely unworthy. At the bottom of the pit, in sheer desperation, I begged God to rescue me. I was so broken and battered, I knew that only God could help.

God did far more than respond to the cry of my heart. He clothed me in unconditional love. His arms protected me. He proved to be trustworthy. He began teaching me about His plans and destiny for my life. It seemed too good to be true.

However, I still could not bring abortion to the foot of the cross. It seemed unforgiveable. Finally, with tears streaming down my face, I fell before Him. I poured out my deep remorse for choosing to abort my child. All He could do was cry with me. I could tangibly feel His heart breaking ‘with’ mine. In this precious moment, He allowed me to see what my child could look like, and that she was sitting in His lap.

Only God could turn my mess into a message, allowing me to minister to post-abortive women and bringing His hope to an area so filled with shame and hopelessness. It is such an honor!

– Sheridan, 32, Texas, US

Finding Freedom in Community

I Am Not Alone

 I’m in the men’s purity group in the church. I didn’t start going because I was struggling with a pornography issue that I couldn’t control, I went because the way that I had chosen to “control” my sexuality was to not acknowledge my feelings and shut them down. I went because what I needed was to connect to my heart and my emotions. I have a need to connect and feel, but that can be scary when I don’t know how to do that.

The men’s purity group is not about getting guys to not look at porn as much as getting guys to connect with their hearts and break out of their isolation. The group had a method that said: “If you want to look at porn, call someone.” I started to learn to connect to my emotions by not isolating myself and, instead, reaching out for an emotionally safe connection. I don’t just call anyone; I call someone of the same sex who is walking with me through life and will embrace me, not try to fix me. I can’t stand it when someone labels me with my struggles and gets more concerned with trying to fix me than connecting with my heart. Walking in purity always requires me to be vulnerable but it’s up to me to make sure that the people I walk through life with are safe and want to know my heart and not my “disorders.”

“I started to learn to connect to my emotions by not isolating myself and, instead, reaching out or an emotionally safe connection.”

I learned an easy acronym called H.A.L.T. which stands for Hopeless, Angry, Lonely, Tired. I found that generally when I want to isolate myself and self-medicate, I usually feel one of these four ways. This gave me power. Instead of getting trapped and falling victim to my feelings, I can do something about them — I can go connect and explore them with someone else. Living a life where my feelings are my friends and I don’t have to be afraid of them is kind of weird, but that’s where I am. I really don’t care about what Christian circles say about living “the right life” if that means I can’t be real with myself. I am holy and clean because of God, not myself. God says I’m clean, and the more I’m me, the more I will naturally deconstruct the things in my life that contradict that. The “perfect” life of performance will always tell me I’m dirty. I am not trying to fix myself; I am getting to know how incredible I am, and the powerful God-made hearts of those around me.

– Andy, 27, Colorado, US


Real Sex, Real Life


Before meeting my husband, I had bought into the media’s version of sex. I believed that it was just an act that I would have to perform to keep my husband satisfied so that he wouldn’t have an affair. In my mind it was a physical duty that I would enjoy sometimes, but ultimately it was a chore to keep my man content. I thought that the only thing men wanted was sex.

The first conversation I had with Justin, who is now my husband, totally surprised me. He shared with me his belief that sex is the most intimate and connected experience two people can have. Having sex is actually telling your mind, body, spirit, and emotions that you are making a covenant to become one with that person. If you don’t have love and commitment to cover this deep connection, you’re defrauding yourself and the person across from you.

“Having sex is actually telling your mind, body, spirit and emotions that you are making a covenant to become one with that person.”

When we got married and had sex for the first time, it was the most beautiful and powerful encounter I have had with God and another person. God’s presence was so thick and tangible. We knew that this act was connecting us together in ways nothing else could. We wept in the beauty of the moment. There is nothing better than knowing that you are giving all of who you are — all of your flaws, greatness, fears, guards, and love —to someone who is giving the same things back to you. Knowing that Justin paid the price of commitment in marriage, I felt covered in love and was able to let someone into me in a way beyond explanation. I felt protected, comforted, adored, and received.

Abi, 27, Colorado, US

Redemptive Love in Redding


 I was born to a single teen mom. My dad left three months into the pregnancy leaving my mom was devastated. She cried all the time and as a result, I felt abandoned by my father and a burden to my Mom. I hated my parents for sleeping together because I felt like my conception was an accident.

Later on, my mom married another man and had two other children. My step father was abusive, and when I was four, my mom left him and began working two jobs to support her three children. Working long hours, my mom often left us with our aunt and uncle. The next two years of my life were a living nightmare. My uncle would watch porn at night and at five years old, I was exposed to pornography. Something inside me felt uncomfortable and slimed, so I asked him to turn it off. Instead of turning it off, he sat me down on his lap in front of the TV screen while he touched me. As far as I can remember this was the only time, but it was enough to damage me. I felt violated by my uncle and forgotten by mom.

Shortly after, I started masturbating. It was my drug to numb the pain. I did it everyday. I couldn’t stop. At age ten I realized what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to stop. At fifteen I turned to romance novels in place of masturbation to escape. I felt empty and lost and at sixteen started cutting myself. I never did it with the intention of committing suicide (although the thought had crossed my mind) but I did want to die so that the pain would stop. I’d fantasize about losing my virginity but never did. I’m so grateful. To this day I have something to give my future husband on our honeymoon night.

“I felt violated and forgotten. I started masturbating to numb the pain. I did it everyday. I couldn’t stop.”

Then we moved to Redding to attend Bethel Church and my life has never been the same. I found Moral Revolution, wonderful Godly women to help me, and hope. I read Moral Revolution and wanted to weep. For a long time I was told and shown that sex was nothing more than just a pleasurable thing; that guys were nothing more than abusive perverts and girls were mere objects. That children were worthless. This was my normal. But here was a book that told me sex was good and God had been the one that created it! The revelation that sex wasn’t defiling hit me like a brick.

God showed me that there were good guys in the world. I have developed amazing male friends that love me for who I am and not what I can give them. My mom had remarried when I was ten and I was finally creating a good, strong, and healthy relationship with someone I could finally call dad. Finally, I had self worth. I no longer felt like an accident, a burden, lost, or like any of the other pathetic lies the devil kept telling me. I finally forgave everyone who hurt me and became open with my addictions.

I thank God for his amazing love. For the hope He brings and the joy I now have. One day I will marry a man who’ll love me, fight for me, and protect me. He will have a heart of gold and be be a champion. I am not perfect and I still have a lot to work through. But the girl I was at thirteen is not the same girl that I am at 17.

God is so good! He’s so so good to me!

Anonymous, Redding, CA