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CBN.com "I learned to hate and I mean I don't use hate lightly -- I hated God with a passion," Serena says. "My mom would force me to go to church on Wednesday nights and Sundays and I just hated it. I hated it because it was another area that my mom controlled me in."
Serena grew up in a home where there was no love ... just chaos.
"My earliest memories in my home life were of my family and of my mom and dad just fighting. My mom was physically abusive towards my father, which was really weird to see at a young age."
Eventually Serena would feel the pain of her mother's rage.
"My mom was schizophrenic, crazy. She was telling me about God one day; beating me the next. But then she would tell me at night that she loved me and God loved me. I didn't even want her God," she recalls. "I just really had a weird understanding of love from a really young age. I thought this was how it was supposed to be."
Even with Serena's twisted view of love she continued to cry out to God.
"As I was going through abuse I would go in my room at night and I would cry. I would ask God why He did not hear me. I knew my mom seemed to think that He was so real but He didn't comfort me. I am in here by myself, I'm hungry, I've got bruises, my brothers are scared and there's always tension. But He was never there."
At the age of ten Serena's pain was so deep that she began to self mutilate.
"I would just carve anything into any part of my body. I would sit there with a tack, and I wanted to feel the pain that my mom was inflicting on me verbally, as though she had inflicted it on me physically. But I thought that I deserved it."
The abuse continued with no relief in sight. Serena began to rebel. Her quest for love led her to explore pornography, experiment with gateway drugs like pot, and hard core drugs like cocaine and acid. She was eventually lured to ecstasy, the drug that goes hand in hand with the rave club scene.
"It seemed like everyone there was underage. And it seemed like everyone was just together. No one cared if you were fat, little, or big. It just seemed like there was acceptance. And I said, 'Yes this is awesome and I loved it.'"
The drug high gave Serena the ability to cope with the ongoing abuse at home. It seemed like the perfect answer. But she was still plagued by thoughts of suicide.
She says, "I would just wish I was dead. I tried slicing my wrist twice. I tried overdosing on drugs. Once I tried hanging myself and the rope broke."
Serena overdosed on heroine and fell into a coma. When she awoke she realized she needed help.
"If you're 15 and you've overdosed on heroine, what's left to do? I was thinking that, 'I'm 15, I'm going to be 16 next month. What's left for me. So I was thinking, 'I need help, because this is going no where."
Serena reluctantly agreed to go to the House of Hope, a Christian ministry dedicated to turning the troubled lives of teens around for God's plan and purpose.
Founder of House of Hope, Sara Trollinger says, "Serena was one of those hopeless young ladies that was visiting the rave clubs, and just everybody had given up on her."
"I was a mean kid, and I was a little brat," Serena says. "But Sara would always tell me she loved me. She would tell me that I was beautiful, and I would tell her she didn't know me. It made me want to strive for something more, that someone had enough faith in me. Still she held my hand the whole way and it was just beautiful."
Eventually, Serena found the love she was looking for from the God she thought was never there.
"This song came on and it said what a friend I found. It talks about how God is more intimate than lovers, and how He's more personal than a mother. It hit me that everything that I had built up in my life, everything that I had held to -- my boyfriends; my hate towards my mom; everything -- that God wanted to be that. God wanted to be my mom. God wanted to be that love that I was trying to fill."
After 17 months of rigorous discipline and studying the word of God Serena successfully graduated from the program. Today she is on staff at House of Hope -- as a house parent -- giving to other girls what she desperately needed -- love.
"If you could speak into their lives or heal something that's been wounded before that makes everything worthwhile."
Sara recalls, "She was one of those that you thought, 'Lord you've got to come in on this one.' And He did, and He showed Himself powerful. I've watched her grow in her levels of integrity and her desire to be a pure woman of God. Since she has come back to the House of Hope I'm seeing that even more."
Serena adds, "I thank God every day for my salvation. When I think of all of the stuff I have done in my life -- God told me, 'You're saved and you're forgiven.' He says all these things to me, and I just say, 'wow.'"
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