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CBN.com “My name is Bridget Rashi Coates, and I’m 17 years old.”
Bridget grew up in one of the poorest projects in the southeast section of the District of Columbia. As a youngster, she already had an idea of how her life would turn out…
“I thought you go to parties every day, you drink, you smoke, you have a hangover everyday, you have a couple of babies and be on welfare,” Bridget explains. “That’s how you’re suppose to live until you die.
“I’m one of 11 kids, and that’s not including the 15 kids my father had. We lived in a five-bedroom house, and all of us lived in that house. So it was pretty crowded, not much privacy.”
There wasn’t much safety either. Over 20 people lived in Bridget’s home. Relatives and friends would come and go as they pleased. One night, a close male relative entered Bridget’s bedroom and led her into the closet.
“He punched me in my mouth and told me to shut up and so I did. When he was finished I went back to bed,” she recalls.
Bridget was only 10 years old.
“I cried my way to sleep, but this happened every night, so I learned how to deal with the pain in alcohol and stuff.”
Bridget endured continuous sexual abuse for over a year. She finally reported the rapes to the police and tried to tell her mother what was happening.
“She couldn’t believe that I had called an investigator,” Bridget tells The 700 Club. “They were going to take all my brothers and sisters away, and she just wanted it to be over. So when the investigators came to school again, I wanted to drop the case because it was my fault that everyone was going to break up. So I just had to drop the case… I never pressed any charges.”
By the time Bridget was 11 years, she had been raped by three different people. She was ready to end her life.
“There was nothing more to live for because I was so used and abused. I became anorexic. I didn’t eat anything, and when I did, I would throw up. Then I started popping pills. I would literally drown 10 to 15 pills a day, and I’d drink alcohol with it, lay down and cry myself to sleep. I was like, ‘God, I want to die.’ Every morning I would wake up, and I was angry with God.”
Bridget knew about God from going to church as a young one. “Yeah, my family went to church -- hard to believe,” she says.
When her suicide attempts failed, Bridget thought she’d give church another try. She was hungover that morning. But she heard beautiful music coming from a nearby church.
“I love music, and this music was just awesome,” she says. “I had to go in there to see what it was about. So I walked into a church unexpectedly -- Open Door Baptist Church. I went and sat on a back pew… When I came in, the deacons opened the door, and I was like, ‘Cool!’”
But to Bridget, the message she heard from the pulpit wasn’t so cool.
“The pastor was talking about love, being in a place where you belonged and about God and how much God loves you. He wants the best for you. I got offended because I was like, ‘Who in their right mind would love an 11-year-old who drinks and smokes and is abusive?’ I felt worthless.”
Bridget wasn’t fully convinced that this God that the preacher spoke of could love someone like her.
“I went back a couple Sundays more, and within two months, I just wanted more. I wanted more of that Person that the pastor was talking about Who could love me. So one day as I was sitting in the pew, the pastor was talking about that Person again who loved people. I just started crying, and before I knew it, I was on my feet, and they were singing this song, “Oh the Blood of Jesus.” I just felt like God’s blood was coming down on me, and He forgave me for everything I’ve done in my past. I was walking up the aisle ready to receive God’s love.
“That person that I was, I didn’t like that person anymore, and I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I had become a person who felt loved by a King. A King wanted me to enter into His presence, and so from that moment, I kind of felt like a princess!”
Since then, Bridget has joined a new church, Urban Outreach, led by Pastor Ken Brown. When he realized the danger Bridget was in, living at home, Pastor Ken, his wife, and their four children invited Bridget to stay with them.
Pastor Ken says, “After she was here just one or two days, we just fell in love with her. My wife says, ‘I don’t mind if she stays the whole summer.’ It’ll be longer. This is her home now, and we are her family… I should say, her second family.”
“There is peace. I can come home, have peace and be able to talk to one another,” Bridget says.
Today, in many ways, Bridget is just your average teenager. She leads worship at her church and is headed to Bible college in the fall -- a far cry from the little girl who once thought her only option was a life of crime and poverty.
“Lord knows there’s so much confusion of my past and mixing it in with what God wants me to do and what my family wants me to do,” she says. “I have to go back to God and say, ‘It’s not about me. It’s all about You. It’s all about what You want me to do.’
“I imagine God as a Person Who sits upon a throne, and there’s this ladder that reaches down to me. Day by day, I’m constantly climbing that ladder, to enter into my Father’s arms, which I have so longed to. I know that one day when I get to Heaven, I will finally be in those arms. That’s all that matters to me -- my Father in Heaven Who sits on the throne.”
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