CBN.com “Everything I did, anything I did — it was never good enough.”
Laurie Ishii grew up in a southern California home where her father’s lack of approval and his high standards for success were hard for her to live up to. Laurie felt the same way about God.
She tells The 700 Club, “I saw God as a taskmaster, just a mean, judgmental, condemning God. If you’re not perfect, you’re gonna go to hell. So, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go to hell, and I’m going to earn my way there.’”
As she got older, she rebelled against her father’s iron rule and against God through drugs, sex and Asian street gang violence.
“I liked the fighting,” she says. “I liked the drive-by shooting. I liked seeing the violence. That really was what I knew: get mad at somebody, hit ‘em.”
Laurie was shot by a rival gang in a drive-by shooting. As she lay bleeding in the street with a bullet lodged near her spine, her thoughts turned to where she might spend eternity if she died.
“Because of the way I was living, I knew I wasn’t going to heaven if I was going to die.”
Laurie recovered and left the gang but didn’t leave her destructive lifestyle.
“Drugs became my focus,” she confesses. “I was a crack whore -- just have sex for drugs.”
She was living with three guys when one of them became a Christian. She recalls, “I watched him. I really watched him, and I saw God change his life.”
Then one day at her mother’s house, she felt compelled to pick up a Bible.
“In Psalm 51 where it says that against you and you only have I sinned, I didn’t realize that the things I’m doing are actually against God. That blew my mind. I prayed, ‘God, if You’ll take away the drug addiction, I’ll serve You.’”
Her desire for drugs? “It was gone,” she exclaims. “I stopped smoking cigarettes, everything.”
Laurie began a new relationship with Jesus Christ. She married and had a son. This would be a great place to end her story, but the real test lie ahead.
Pain began to radiate throughout her body. It was fibromyalgia. Her drug of choice to ease the pain became heroin…and she was hooked.
She says, “There’s something about when you’re a junkie and you’re truly dependent on heroin to survive… It’s so hard because you can’t do anything without having the drug. So, you will stoop to the lowest lows to just get what you have to get. By this time, I had been taking my son with me to the drug dealer — leaving him in one room to play with a toy and going to have sex with the drug dealer for drugs in the other room. I remember saying, ‘What have I become?’”
Laurie moved in with a heroin-addicted friend and left her son with her husband.
“When I was leaving, my son was holding on to me and saying , ‘Mommy, please don’t leave me.’ I couldn’t stay. I had to go and get high.”
Suicide seemed like the only option. After several failed attempts, she devised a desperate plan to kill herself.
“I went up to the roof of my eight-story apartment, and I don’t know if I fell or jumped.”
A small tree broke her fall, but Laurie still landed on her head. Once she came out of the coma, she faced months of rehabilitation. Laurie had to learn to read, write and walk all over again. As soon as the hospital released her, the craving for drugs drew her back to the streets.
She was on a bus headed to downtown LA's skid row to score heroin, when she says God got her attention again.
“I heard a voice. It was the Lord and He said, ‘Laurie, you’re going to die out here a junkie if you don’t turn around and serve Me.’”
Laurie returned to the Christian halfway house where she’d stayed before, but this time with a different outlook.
“It was a journey of a totally different relationship with God,” she explains. “I had the fear of God that I never had before but not a sick fear. It was a respect — an awe.”
Laurie ministers to the street people of Hollywood and targets pimps and prostitutes. Her hope is that they will experience the same love from God that took her from certain death to a new life in Christ.
“God could have taken my life in just a second, but He chose to have mercy on me and allow me to live,” she says. “I didn’t deserve anything but hell. I didn’t deserve His grace or His mercy. It just blew me away. After all I’ve done, He loves me.”
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