I was brought up in Fresno, CA. My parents had a turbulent relationship, and I was sad yet relieved when they got a divorce when I was six. My mother taught me to be an over-achiever as a way to earn love; unfortunately, I was never quite good enough. Living in a single-parent household, my mother was forced to work a lot of hours which led me to being out on my own.

At the age of 11, I was introduced to marijuana and alcohol and started hanging around   with people 10 years older than myself. By 13, I was selling ¼ pounds of methamphetamine and people were beginning to like me (so I thought). I might not have been able to be good enough, but I certainly did excel at being bad.

At 15, I started to hang out with meth-manufacturers, convicts and violent offenders; so that no one would be able to hurt me. I lost my virginity during a black-out where I woke up in a closet at an unknown home.

Even with this kind of lifestyle, I was able to finish high school with good grades. I continued with this destructive lifestyle and, by the age of 27, I had two children whom I supported through drug sales.

The sad thing was, I thought I was a good mom and was doing things right. Addiction is a cunning and deceptive disease of the heart, mind and spirit. Even with my life in utter chaos, I still read my Bible, prayed to God and talked to my kids about God. I believed satan’s lie that I was in control. I was sadly mistaken.

In 1998, this life style came to a screeching halt. I was held at gunpoint by a crazed meth addict who thought he was in love with me. The girl who was with me escaped and called the police. The SWAT team rescued me. I was top headlines on the news and was deeply embarrassed.

I was left homeless and none of my friends would let my little girl and I stay with them. The reality of the situation forced me to make a life-changing decision — I moved to Crescent City with $300.00 and a bunch of boxes of junk.

I went to a College of the Redwoods, starting with some childhood ed classes and realized exactly what I had done to my children. Rather than dwelling on the past, I pressed on and finished my education, working 3 part-time jobs trying hard to become a good role model.

A friend I met in college took me to church, and when they sang “He Knows My Name,” I broke down and realized that God loved me and saw me through everything. He never left my side. He was calling me to a love that I didn’t have to earn, and He thought I was a treasure. He wanted to forgive me of all my past mistakes and give me a future!

God gave me the strength to work 3 different jobs in the field of special education with severely autistic students while going to college full-time. I found teaching very rewarding and planned to go into the field of special ed teaching. I graduated with honors and a prestigious award that has only been given 3 times in the colleges history, and best of all, I was able to give a speech at graduation ceremonies that gave all the glory to God!

While looking for a college to transfer to, I stumbled upon Bethany Assemblies of God College and felt God telling me that I was to pursue a drug and alcohol counseling degree, so that I could give back what I had been given so freely.

I graduated with my Bachelors degree in 2006 and worked with an established state-funded program which opened Del Norte County’s first Drug and Alcohol rehab. Yet, there was still something missing. State regulations confined the life restoring power of Jesus Christ.

I prayed and discovered a program named “Freedom Now” which has an 86% recovery rate…fully recovered for people attending for one year, two times a week. That means no more being slaves to meetings, but slaves for Jesus!

I was able to implement this program at Our Daily Bread Ministries in the summer of 2007 and have seen countless deliverances, lives changed and prayers answered. The people who attend are an inspiration to me as I see them grow in the power of Christ, overcome through the blood of the Lamb, and go forth to minister what they have learned to all they come in contact with.

The transformation from defeated, insecure and depressed individuals to powerful, successful and completely healed assets to God’s Kingdom is awe-inspiring!

In His Service,

Daphne Cortese-Dean

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