It was supposed to be a fun-filled day at the beach with her teenage boyfriend. However, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession for Famata Shahadi. Her boyfriend persuaded her to smoke marijuana with the promise of it making her wise and strong. Famata says, “The first day it didn’t do anything.” So she returned to the beach the next day to try again. This time it was different. “The way the drugs treated me - I loved it! I was just laughing and having a good time. I was high.”
It was not long before Famata moved on to heroin and from heroin to crack cocaine. “The first day I tasted that thing, I was hooked. When you taste it, one hit is too many and a thousand hits are never enough.” Sadly Famata was only thirteen years old when her addiction started and by age fourteen, she was prostituting herself to support her habit. Her addic-tion spun out of control and her health deteriorated. “I was so slim. When my friends saw me they thought I had AIDS.”
Famata was no longer the beautiful prostitute, so her regular customers turned her away. Broke and sick, Famata moved to the only place that housed people like her: the ghetto. There she was in the company of other addicts, all hopeless and despe-rate. She got an occasional supply of crack and a wooden bench to sleep on at night. No one seemed to care about those in the ghetto, but one man, Pastor Francis Thomas. Pastor Thomas would daily go and preach the Word of Jesus Christ to those in the ghetto. He recalls, “They’d puff smoke in my face and sometimes abuse me, but I’d consistently tell them: ‘Jesus loves you.’ ” Famata couldn’t understand why someone she didn’t know would love her, “Jesus didn’t die for me. I don’t even know Him. Why would He die for me?”
One day Famata received a small piece of crack from a drug dealer. “First I thought I was high, but it was different. I began vomiting green water. I felt life leaving me.” Although Famata said she did not know Jesus, she remem-bered a prayer she once heard in school.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I knew I was dying and I said, “Lord help me.” She passed out. Her friends ran to the one person they believed would care for a dying drug addict, Francis Thomas.
Pastor Thomas carried Famata home. On the way home Famata came to herself. I said, “Lord I give my life to you because I know this day I’m going to die.” I raised my hands toward heaven and something strange came upon me.
When Pastor Thomas arrived at Famata’s house, her mother was unwilling to receive her. Pastor Thomas pleaded with Famata’s mother until she agreed to take Famata back, though she had been gone for nine years.
In the beginning, her mother was skeptical of Famata’s so-called “change”, but this was a major turning point in Famata’s life.
From that day, Famata has never looked back. She still hangs out in the ghetto but not as a drug addict, but as a minister of the Gospel!
People who knew her are amazed at how Jesus changed her life. Some people will just come and raise their hands to heaven and say, “God, if you can change this girl, you can save me!” Not only has Famata’s life changed, but her name has as well. Famata married the man who saved her life on that almost tragic day - Pastor Francis Thomas. Famata and Francis continue to reach out to the unwanted in the streets of Liberia with the love of Jesus Christ!
“Instead of shame and dishonour, you shall have a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy!”
(Isaiah 61:7 Life Application Bible).

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